Full program announced for 71st Sydney Film Festival

Midnight Oil photo by Andrzej LiguzFeaturing 197 films from 69 countries including 28 World Premieres and 133 Australian Premieres, the 71st Sydney Film Festival program has been officially launched by Festival Director Nashen Moodley.

“The 71st Sydney Film Festival unfurls a canvas of bold narratives and remarkable visions, mirroring the evolving dynamics of our world,” said Sydney Film Festival Director Nashen Moodley. “This year, we are proud to present films that challenge, entertain, and provoke dialogue, from the sweeping landscapes of Australian dramas to the complex human stories from global cinema.”

“The 2024 selection reinforces our commitment to fostering a diverse cinematic experience, spotlighting works that engage with pressing social issues, personal stories, and transformative historical moments. These films invite the audience to journey through myriad cultures and experiences, reflecting the rich complexity of the human condition.”

“We invite everyone to join us in exploring this year’s exceptional films, participate in vibrant discussions at The Hub, and share in the joy of cinema that unites us all,” said Moodley.

The Festival features an exceptional line-up including Yorgos Lanthimos’ latest Kinds of Kindness, starring Emma Stone, fresh from the Cannes Competition, and the World Premiere of Aussie boxing drama Kid Snow.

The program also includes the first Indian film to appear in the Cannes Competition in 30 years, Payal Kapadia’s All We Imagine As Light, Lee Tamahori’s intense drama The Convert with Guy Pearce, The Bikeriders starring Jodie Comer, Austin Butler and Tom Hardy, and recent top award-winners: Berlinale Golden Bear Dahomey, and Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner Sujo.

The Festival opens with the world premiere of Midnight Oil: The Hardest Line. Featuring unheard interviews with every band member, unseen live and studio footage, alongside signature moments like the outback tour with Warumpi Band, their Exxon protest gig in New York and those famous “Sorry” suits at the Sydney Olympics.

Midnight Oil: The Hardest Line traces the singular journey of Australia’s quintessential rock band across their 45-year career. Director Paul Clarke and members of Midnight Oil will attend opening night to present the film.

For the 16th year, the Official Competition will award the $60,000 cash Sydney Film Prize to a film that demonstrates audacious, cutting-edge and courageous cinema. The competition is the only film competition in Australia endorsed by FIAPF, the regulating body for international film festivals, and is judged by a jury of international and Australian filmmakers and industry professionals.

SFF Kinds of KindnessDirect from the 2024 Cannes Film Festival competition will be: Kinds of Kindness – a darkly hilarious fable starring Emma Stone, Jesse Plemons and Willem Dafoe from Yorgos Lanthimos (Alps, Sydney Film Prize 2012; Poor Things); and Grand Tour, the latest from Miguel Gomes (Tabu, SFF 2012; Arabian Nights, Sydney Film Prize, SFF 2015) about a romantic pursuit across Asia.

Christophe Honoré’s Marcello Mio where an all-star French cast play themselves in a meta comedy paying homage to the great Marcello Mastroianni. Payal Kapadia’s romantic drama All We Imagine as Light is the first Indian film to appear in the Cannes Competition in 30 years and follows two women in Mumbai who are thwarted in their quests for love.

Also screening straight from Cannes is acclaimed actor Ariane Labed’s (Attenberg, SFF 2011; Alps, SFF 2012) directorial debut September Says – a Gothic psychological drama in which the closeness of two sisters becomes increasingly disruptive; and Cannes Un Certain Regard contender Viet And Nam, which tells the love story of two gay mineworkers.

Internationally awarded films in competition at SFF include Berlin Film Festival Silver Bear winning feature Dying – a multi-generational epic about a conductor and his turbulent family; and the Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner Sujo – a moving Mexican cartel drama that follows a cartel-born child from infancy to manhood. Rich Peppiatt’s raucous and rude comedy Kneecap stars three real-life Belfast rappers as themselves and took out the Audience Award in the Sundance NEXT strand.

Outperforming Barbie and Oppenheimer at the box office in its native Italy, There’s Still Tomorrow is a melodrama directed and starring Paola Cortellesi about an industrious woman in post-WWII Rome. It screens in competition at SFF alongside Puan – an incisive comedy about a philosophy professor at a Buenos Aires university who is threatened by a charismatic rival.

Opening Night Film, Midnight Oil: The Hardest Line will also screen in competition at the 2024 Festival. The winner of the Sydney Film Prize is announced at the Festival’s Closing Night Gala on Sunday 16 June.

Ten documentaries (including seven World Premieres) will contest the 2024 Documentary Australia Prize. As well as receiving a $20,000 cash prize courtesy of Documentary Australia, the winning film becomes Academy Award eligible.

Madman AquariusWorld premieres, Dale Frank – Nobody’s Sweetie, an intimate portrait of artist Dale Frank; Aquarius, documenting a 1973 gathering embraced by activists, hippies, and radicals that changed the town of Nimbin forever; and The Blind Sea, following professional athlete Matt Formston as he takes on the challenge of surfing the biggest wave ever tackled by a blind surfer.

Welcome to Yiddishland, about a global community of artists on a quest to rediscover and revitalise the endangered Yiddish language; Mozart’s Sister, the story of the other Mozart, Maria-Anna, a child prodigy forgotten to time; and Skategoat, about a young boy’s dream to become a pro skateboarder by renegade graffiti artist and acclaimed music video director Van Alpert.

Stan Originals, Revealed: Otto by Otto, where Gracie Otto (Under the Volcano, SFF 2021; The Last Impresario, SFF 2014) attempts to capture the memories of her father, iconic Australian actor and artist Barry Otto; and Welcome to Babel, which charts Chinese-Australian artist Jiawei Shen’s plans to create an epic work.

Also in the running: Sally Aitken’s Sundance Selected Every Little Thing – a story of a woman finding herself as she cares for injured hummingbirds; and You Should Have Been Here Yesterday – a cinematic ode to Australia’s early surfing culture featuring the likes of Tim Winton and Wayne Lynch.

Minister for the Arts John Graham said the Sydney Film Festival is one of the most anticipated events in the city’s cultural calendar. “The Sydney Film Festival is an important moment in our city’s cultural calendar,” said the Minister.

“One of the reasons the festival continues to go from strength to strength is the power of going to the cinema – coming together in a shared experience of escaping day to day life, sitting down in a theatre, and looking into this kaleidoscope of human stories.”

“There’s something special about sharing that experience with hundreds other people that I believe will keep this festival going for another 71 years,” said Mr Graham.

The 71st Sydney Film Festival runs 5 – 16 June 2024. For more information, full program and to book tickets, visit: www.sff.org.au for details.

Images: Midnight Oil – photo by Andrzej Liguz | Kinds of Kindness (supplied) | Aquarius – courtesy of Madman Entertainment