Sydney Film Festival 2018
Winter in Sydney is not devoid of event highlights: ViViD Festival is blossoming in all its glory illuminating the Sydney in all its glory literally and with a high calibre of an eclectic international festival line-up.
Then there is the Sydney Film Fest for the cinema-philes.
While previous incarnations have never lacked highlights, the 2018 instalment made it particularly difficult to feel like you are not missing out on the offerings from the realm of local and international cinema. In numbers this meant well over two-hundred and fifty movies from sixty countries in more than one-hundred and sixty languages.
Yup, that is quite a handful and I shall try to focus on personal favourites to give an idea of the territory covered and the wide range on offer:
Terror Nullius is a must-see: Video installatiors Soda Jerk’s innovative exercise in taking cut and pasting techniques to a whole new level by recontextualising and reframing classic texts to infer new dimensions of meaning and making them relevant to seemingly irrelevant current events and developments. In essence, DJ-ing, sampling and remixing techniques applied to movie making with a great electronic soundtrack to match. It was about time that Terror Nullius emerged out of the confines of Melbourne’s ACMI cinemas, where it was first released.
The Pure Necessity is – as you might have not guessed – a take on Disney’s Jungle Book with the twist of extracting all human characters from each individual frame. Director David Claerhout thereby gives the classic movie a whole new dimension, making it more of a nature documentary and what you as a viewer make of it and take away from.
The Iranian movie Three Faces is a political drama shedding light on limitations, lack of freedom of expression and individuality following the Werdegaenge of three actors at different points of their lives and careers.
Joaquin Phoenix, known for his experimental approach to movie projects, makes an appearance in Gus Van Sant’s Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot and You Were Never Really Here as a former soldier and law enforcement officer who tracks down missing teens in the hands of sex trafficking rings on behalf of wealthy parents. A role that won him the 2017 Cannes Best Actor Award.
Half the Picture tries to find answers to the question as to the gender inequality in the movie industry, especially when it comes to directors along with the trials and tribulations that come with the territory of being a female leader.
Mektoub, My Love: Canto Uno is Tunisian-French film-maker Abdellatif Kechiche’s three-hour long LGBT drama, which is a bit tedious at times but an enjoyable take on the topic.
Searching by director Aneesh Chaganty proved to be an interesting flic as it was shot entirely from the point of view of computer screens and smartphones.
Julian Burnside’s 'Graveyard of dreams' focuses on the heartbreaking plight of refugees – a touching piece of cinema to say the very least.
Foxtrot is Israeli writer-director Samuel Maoz’s movie is an intense, absorbing oeuvre that sheds light on the implications of bureaucracy, grief and the many difficulties of living in a state of perpetual conflict.
Not being big on Japanese animation, I found Mamoru Hosada’s Mirai an eye-catching, entertaining spectacle that makes me want to delve deeper into the genre.
Another outstanding offering was [Censored], which zeros in on what is being cut out when, well censors decide that the general public should be spared from it: A documentary focused on the compilation of clips that fell prey to the scissors of censorship from 1951 to 1978 in Australia.
Paraguayan director Marcelo Martinessi's film, The Heiresses!, won the Sydney Film Festival's official competition and Sydney filmmaker Ben Lawrence took out the Documentary Australia Foundation Award for Australian Documentary with the complex and dark Ghosthunter, which was rewarded for its storytelling approach that did not lack in the suspense department without sacrificing ethos.
2018’s sixty-fifths Sydney Film Fest was another step up from previous incarnations of the festival catering to both a mainstream audience, Arthouse aficionados and an array of nuanced special interests in-between – be it Japanese animation, documentaries or crowd pleasers.