Films

2015 Program Preview

Here are 27 new films to be featured in this year's festival, plus a 10-film Ingmar Bergman retrospective curated by David Stratton. This preview gives you a taste of the range of features and documentaries you will find in the full program released Wednesday 6 May at 11am. Tickets to all films will also be available from this date.

Flexipasses are on sale now here and there are also a strictly limited number of Subscription Packages available, that give you a specially selected program from less than $8 per film, available here. Single tickets and discount packages for the Bergman Retrospective are also on sale now. 

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Opening Night Gala 2015 - Ruben Guthrie

Opening Night Gala 2015 - Ruben Guthrie

Brendan Cowell's directorial debut - starring Patrick Brammall, Alex Dimitriades, Abbey Lee, Robyn Nevin and Jack Thompson - is a hilarious, bittersweet love letter to Sydney, a beautiful city with a dark side.

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Closing Night Gala 2015

Closing Night Gala 2015

Our Closing Night Film is under wraps until our full program launch on Wednesday 6 May, but you can secure your seat now to this signature Sydney Film Festival event. Bid a fond farewell to the 62nd annual Sydney Film Festival at an evening filled with acclaim, applause, awards and another example of the best in film at the State Theatre.

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Slow West

Slow West

World Cinema Grand Jury Prize winner at Sundance, this darkly funny, unconventional western is thrilling and romantic. A mysterious traveller (Michael Fassbender) conceals his motives from the lovelorn and naïve Scottish teenager (Kodi Smit-McPhee) who embarks on a perilous quest to find his beloved in 1800s Colorado. Ben Mendelsohn is brilliant as a fur-clad outlaw.

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A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence

A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence

Swedish cinematic visionary Roy Andersson (You, the Living, SFF 2008) brings his trademark absurdist humour and singular vision to this winner of the Venice Golden Lion. Zipping back and forth through time, and peopled with a bizarre, yet strangely familiar cast of characters, the film is a meticulous series of tragicomic vignettes.

Essential Bergman: Selected by David Stratton

Essential Bergman: Selected by David Stratton

David Stratton will present a program of 10 essential classics directed by the great Ingmar Bergman from 6-14 June 2015. The renowned critic and broadcaster will introduce each screening in the retrospective program.

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Mr. Holmes

Mr. Holmes

Aged 93 and long-retired, Sherlock Holmes (beautifully acted by the great Ian McKellen) lives in a farmhouse and tends to his bees. Struggling with his fading memory, Holmes is determined to solve a mystery that has tormented him for decades. Inspired by his housekeeper's son, he sets about cracking one final case.

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Strangerland

Strangerland

Nicole Kidman makes a welcome return to Australian independent cinema in this striking film. The teenage children of Catherine (Kidman) and Matthew (Joseph Fiennes) mysteriously disappear from the outback town the family has recently settled in. When local cop Rae (Hugo Weaving) tries to solve the case, he uncovers a dark history with repercussions for him too.

Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief

Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief

One of the hottest films at Sundance, this eye-opening look at the Church of Scientology is the latest offering from Oscar-winning documentarian Alex Gibney. Expect a candid portrait of the eccentric founder L. Ron Hubbard and his church's rise to power and fortune, with the help of tax breaks and Hollywood A-listers like John Travolta and Tom Cruise.

Love & Mercy

Love & Mercy

Musical genius Brian Wilson is portrayed brilliantly by both Paul Dano and John Cusack in this beautifully moving portrait. Love & Mercy looks at the seminal moments of Wilson's life, from the period in which the Beach Boys were churning out chart-topping hits to the recording of the magnificent 'Pet Sounds' and his battle with mental illness.

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The Look of Silence

The Look of Silence

The Look of Silence is a companion piece to Joshua Oppenheimer's Oscar-nominated The Act of Killing (SFF 2013), but a very different journey. While the earlier film concentrated on the killers' account of the 1960s Indonesian communist purge, the second focuses on the victims, their families and community. Their story, however, is no less harrowing.

Deathgasm

Deathgasm

This fabulously funny and gory Kiwi horror flick was the talk of this year's SXSW Film Festival. When metal-thrashing teenage misfits Brodie and Zakk find a strange piece of sheet music they accidentally summon a hideous supernatural entity. With nothing less than the annihilation of human existence on the beast's malevolent mind, carnage and hilarity ensue.

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54: The Director's Cut

54: The Director's Cut

A new cut of this 1998 cult-classic ode to hedonism at legendary New York disco Studio 54 celebrates director Mark Christopher's homoerotic original vision. The naïve Shane (Ryan Phillippe) uses his undeniable sex appeal to climb the club's hierarchy. Mike Myers is scintillating as dissolute club owner Steve Rubell; Salma Hayek and Neve Campbell co-star.

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Beats of the Antonov

Beats of the Antonov

Winner of the People's Choice Award at Toronto, this eloquent documentary celebrates the resilience of the inhabitants of war-torn Sudan's Blue Nile and Nuba Mountain communities. Through traditional music and dance, they cope with this conflict with an exuberance that may seem at odds with the terrain in which they survive.

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Best of Enemies

Best of Enemies

The infamous 1968 televised clash between left-leaning novelist Gore Vidal and conservative author William F. Buckley, Jr. is the subject of this entertaining documentary. Directors Robert Gordon and Oscar-winner Morgan Neville (20 Feet from Stardom, SFF 2013) skilfully blend vintage footage and more contemporary interviews with humorous and fascinating results.

Bikes vs Cars

Bikes vs Cars

The joy and potential of two-wheeled transport, in an era when the design of our cities is determined by the automobile, is explored in this timely, globetrotting documentary. Activists and thinkers from São Paulo, Toronto, Stockholm and Los Angeles fight for better cities, refusing to stop riding despite the increasing number of traffic-related fatalities.

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The Chinese Mayor

The Chinese Mayor

A Special Jury Award winner at Sundance, this revealing look at today's China is from the team behind festival favourites Last Train Home (SFF 2010) and Fallen City (SFF 2013). With extraordinary access, they document non-conformist Mayor Geng Yanbo of Datong and his controversial efforts to revive the glory of the former capital of Imperial China.

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The Crow's Egg

The Crow's Egg

Dubbed the next Slumdog Millionaire, this funny and charming film from South India is for both adults and older kids. Two mischievous and resourceful brothers living in poverty in a Chennai slum see an ad for pizza and become determined to taste this magical food for the very first time, setting off an adventure full of both triumphs and setbacks.

Dreamcatcher

Dreamcatcher

Fiercely compassionate, honest and moving, Dreamcatcher is the latest from renowned documentarian Kim Longinotto (Sisters in Law, SFF 2005). This compelling portrait of former sex worker Brenda Myers-Powell, who mentors Chicago's streetwalkers through her Dreamcatcher Foundation, earned Longinotto the Documentary Directing Award at this year's Sundance.

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The Duke of Burgundy

The Duke of Burgundy

This sensual melodrama is a chronicle of a lesbian S&M relationship between Cynthia (Sidse Babett Knudsen, Borgen) and Evelyn (Chiara D'Anna) who engage in an erotic game of increasing strain and intensity. The Duke of Burgundy is both a heart-warming romance and an homage to European erotica: kinky, funny and a pleasure from start to end.

Eisenstein in Guanajuato

Eisenstein in Guanajuato

Daring, sexually explicit and wildly funny, Peter Greenaway's latest film depicts Russian filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein's visit to Mexico in 1931 to shoot a film. Politically and financially vulnerable, Eisenstein - together with his Mexican guide, Palomino - experiences the ties between sex and death through 10 days that would shape his life and career.

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How to Change the World

How to Change the World

This gripping chronicle from documentarian Jerry Rothwell charts the birth of Greenpeace from 1970s Vancouver to international status. Revealing interviews, excerpts from eco-warrior Bob Hunter's eloquent writings, and compelling archival footage, reveal how internal squabbling and power plays endangered the group's ecological purpose.

The Hunting Ground

The Hunting Ground

Following his Oscar-nominated exposé of sexual abuse in the army (The Invisible War), director Kirby Dick tackles the tough issue of rape on American college campuses from Harvard to Berkeley. The facts are staggering: of the one in five women sexually assaulted only a handful of cases are reported. Two young women decide to fight back using a little-known case law.

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Kabukicho Love Hotel

Kabukicho Love Hotel

In this sweet, sexy ensemble drama from former 'pink film' director Ryuichi Hiroki, a love hotel in Tokyo's red-light district plays host to its occupants' illicit goings-on. J-pop band AKB48's Atsuko Maeda (Tamako in Moratorium, SFF 2014) stars in this bittersweet portrait of disaffected urbanites that combines graphic sex and sentimentality.

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My Love, Don't Cross That River

My Love, Don't Cross That River

This exquisitely crafted, award-winning portrait of a South Korean couple married for 76 years was a box office sensation in its homeland. The couple's love seems immutable and you can well imagine these lovebirds in the bloom of youth. But time stands still for no one, and Jo Byeong-man, the older of the duo at 98, is becoming increasingly frail.

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Necktie Youth

Necktie Youth

Shot in striking black and white, Necktie Youth is a visually stunning tale of disaffected youth in contemporary Johannesburg. A year after the live-streamed suicide of their friend Emily, Jabz and September take a drug-fuelled trip through the affluent suburbs of their city, discussing bizarre sex, politics and race, and finding themselves in increasingly strange scenarios. 

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Phoenix

Phoenix

This complex mystery of deceit is director Christian Petzold's sixth collaboration with Nina Hoss (including Barbara, SFF 2012). A concentration camp survivor returns to Berlin and attempts to reclaim the life she was stripped of. With nods to Hitchcock's Vertigo, and a brilliant final scene, the power of Phoenix lasts long after the credits roll.

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Song of the Sea

Song of the Sea

This enchanting treat for families is inspired by Ireland's rich Celtic folklore. Ben and his fairy-like sister, Saoirse, live on a rocky island, where seals bob up to inspect their every activity. Nominated for Best Animated Feature at this year's Oscars, this legend-inspired tale is chock-full of glorious imagery, captivating critters and lilting Gaelic music.

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Villa Touma

Villa Touma

Set in Ramallah, the directorial debut from award-winning screenwriter Suha Arraf (The Syrian Bride, Lemon Tree) offers a rare glimpse into aristocratic Palestinian Christian society. Shut away in their villa, three unmarried sisters cling desperately to their former glory until their orphaned niece arrives to turn their world turns upside down.

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Sunrise

Sunrise

This emotionally gripping noir is Partho Sen-Gupta's first dramatic feature in a decade. Shifting between dream and reality, a grief-stricken Mumbai police inspector - played almost wordlessly by Adil Hussain (Life of Pi) - searches for his kidnapped six-year-old daughter, haunted by visions of an elusive spectre and the seedy Paradise nightclub.

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99 Homes

99 Homes

Set during America's 2008 housing crisis, this intelligent, adrenaline-charged thriller from Ramin Bahrani generated tremendous buzz at Venice, Toronto and Sundance. Desperate construction worker (Andrew Garfield) is seduced into accepting a job with a ruthless real estate broker played by Michael Shannon, the very man who evicted him from his family home.