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What to watch when you don't know what day it is - SFF's summer watchlist
Community December 18 2023 by Sydney Film Festival Staff
It’s late December. The house is a mess. Everyone’s exhausted. But from the embers of festive family chaos, a unanimous decision emerges: it’s time for a movie. Stop the petty fights and endless scrolling before it happens, and let the team behind Australia's leading film festival help guide you towards a kind of cinematic satisfaction only possible in those tranquil days before the new year.

Justin Martyniuk – Program Coordinator & Programmer

My all-time Christmas comfort watch is Wilder’s THE APARTMENT – Jack Lemmon can soothe any hangover food coma. SBS On Demand also have ol’ favs BRING IT ON and FANTASTIC MR. FOX that are always fun, no matter what day it is. 

Jenny Neighbour – Head of Programs & Documentary Programmer

The Festive Season should be a magical time, and Studio Ghibli’s Hayao Miyazaki is an undoubted master of enchantment. So, I’ll be heading to Sydney cinemas to see his latest (and perhaps his final film?) THE BOY AND THE HERON and hitting the streamers to see my all-time favourite, MY NEIGHBOUR, TOTORO – just love those dust bunnies!

Nashen Moodley – Festival Director

POOR THINGS. Yorgos Lanthimos returns with an absolutely delightful and deeply strange flight of the imagination. Unlike anything else you’ll see this summer, POOR THINGS is wild, brilliantly acted and very, very funny.

Joshua Forward – Head of Marketing

Escape the heat at the cinema with 2023 SFF Audience Award winner ANATOMY OF A FALL. Get chills from the French Alp settings, and then get chills again from the best acting you’ll see all year from Sandra Huller. If she doesn’t get nominated for an Oscar, it’ll be a bigger crime than the one in the movie. If you’re looking for a movie to appease the post-feast crowd at home, I recommend THEATER CAMP. Absolutely hilarious and will ring deeply true to anyone who has ever done amateur theatre… or had amateur theatre inflicted upon them.

Windsor – CRM & Ticketing Manager

HEREDITARY. Because holidays are about family and so is HEREDITARY.

Editor’s note: Do not watch HEREDITARY with your family

Frances Wallace – SFF CEO

SWEETIE. Just when your family is starting to drive you crazy over the holidays, think of watching SWEETIE.  A radical film that changed the way I viewed storytelling, this bold, rambunctious film left a permanent mark on my brain.

Alternatively, revisit all of Jane Campion’s films that SFF featured in our retrospective JANE CAMPION – HER WAY.

Eden Tollis – Head of Philanthropy

BOTTOMS. FIGHT CLUB meets MEAN GIRLS. I didn’t realise I needed a high school movie with so much fight choreography. Watch this if you are looking for a fix before the new MEAN GIRLS comes out in Jan. 

POLITE SOCIETY. Feels like it fits within the Hot Fuzz Cinematic Universe, a perfect afternoon viewing that might encourage you to pick up martial arts.

Annie Parnell – Travelling Film Festival Manager

SHAYDA. If you haven’t yet seen this excellent Australian drama, from Iranian-Australian filmmaker Noora Niasari, make sure you watch it ahead of potential Academy Award nods.

With multiple nominations for Australia’s AACTA awards, our equivalent of the Oscar and BAFTA Awards, and already an award-winner from Sundance, the moving performances from lead actors Zar Amir Ebrahimi, Selina Zehednia and Osamah Sami as well as a terrific ensemble cast, bring a warmth to this film that is powerful and real.  It’s Australia’s official entry to the Best International Film for the next Oscars and when you watch it, you’ll know why.

Beatrix Brady – Festival Administrator

SISTER ACT. I watched it for the first time this year and it completely holds up. Whoopi Goldberg is a legend and she’ll never die.

MARIE ANTOINETTE. Watched recently as part of the Randwick Ritz’s Sofia Coppola retrospective in the lead-up to PRISCILLA being released, and it’s an absolute treat (and would be a very fun double feature with NAPOLEON).

Dominic Ellis – Digital Marketing Manager

My choices all skew ‘feel good’. No one wants a downer in December.

I’ll start with THE FIFTH ELEMENT. We weren’t particularly encouraging of ‘personality’ in the 90s (#JusticeForSuperMarioBros), so Besson’s zany sci-fi wasn’t well received back in 1997 – even picking up a few Razzie noms. But ignore all that – THE FIFTH ELEMENT is a doozie. There’s so much colour and life in this movie. So many weird costumes; even weirder performances. Tune into SBS On Demand and play it hard.

Richard Linklater films are made for this time of year. SLACKER and DAZED AND CONFUSED are two bona fide classics, but both can be a bit hard to find in Aus. So let’s go with an under-appreciated one… EVERYBODY WANTS SOME!! is rarely included in the Linklater pantheon, but it’s an extremely agreeable movie – so meandering and fun-loving – that couldn’t be more apt for a time of the year when nothing much matters.

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