Thursday, May 08, 2008

Sydney Film Festival 2008 line-up announced

Yesterday I was lucky enough to attend the announcement of this year’s line up of the Sydney Film Festival.

Once again it looks like an entertaining and enthralling line up. Of the films announced by the festival’s director Claire Stewart, there were definitely a few stand outs. The new Official Competition brings twelve Australian premieres, three of which are world premieres. Mike Leigh’s Happy-Go-Lucky has been widely acclaimed for a fabulous performance by Sally Hawkins and is the Opening Film of the Festival. Steve McQueen’s Hunger tells the story of hunger striker Bobby Sands and the ever reliable Guy Maddin will be narrating his latest film My Winnipeg live on stage at a Gala screening.

Of the clips shown Samuel Bencheritrit’s I Always Wanted to be a Gangster and Roy Andersson’s hilarious looking You, The Living both brought the house down. The Aussie documentary Salute looks fabulous; telling the story of the 1968 Olympics in Mexico and the politic statement that changed three athletes’ lives forever. The style of the film recalls Once in a Lifetime: The Extraordinary story of the New York Cosmos, one of my favourite documentaries of recent times, with its use of vintage archival footage. Other documentaries include American Teen (The Breakfast Club made flesh) Glass: A Portrait of Philip Glass in Twelve Parts (happy, happy, happy!) and Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr Hunter. S. Thompson. The trailer for Michael Haneke’s remake of his own 1997 Funny Games looked incredibly disturbing and will hopefully match the originals harrowing storyline. Having Naomi Watts and Tim Roth in the film will certainly help but it remains to seen whether the curse of the Hollywood remake continues…fingers crossed.

Music will once again play a major part of the festival at the Metro Theatre. Special nights are planned around many of the films. Respect Yourself: The Stax Records Story and Anvil: The Story of Anvil (a true life Spinal Tap) in particular have themed nights with DJs and live bands to enhance your viewing pleasure.

For me, at first glance of the program, I was also very happy to see two new film’s from Takashi Miike – Crows: Episode 0 and Sukiyuki Western Django, the prolific director’s tribute to Sergio Corbucci’s classic spaghetti western Django, Brian DePalma’s Redacted and Son of Rambow – the story of two young boys remaking Rambo in their backyard. The horror genre is somewhat lacking this year round but two film’s do show promise. Oliver Blackburn’s UK low budget thriller Donkey Punch takes terror from Leeds to Mallorca as three brash young girls go on holiday for a good time and rather predictably…don’t get it when they head out on a cruise (Ladettes to Ladies meets Dead Calm anyone?) and the Icelandic murder mystery Jar City just looks grim, the scene when the film’s ‘hero’ tucks into a sheep’s head are not want you want to see over coffee on a Thursday morning!

And the fact that Jack Black will be introducing the Australian premiere of Kung Fu Panda is just the icing on the cake! This is only a very small selection of the huge amount of films showing between June 4th and 22nd. Check out and check back here for my reviews and interviews as the festival gets under way. Happy Viewing!

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