Sydney Film Festival reveals first films for 2018

SFF My Brilliant CareerThe 65th Sydney Film Festival has revealed a sneak peek of this year’s essential viewing: 26 new films to be featured in this year’s June event, as well as a new Festival location: HOYTS Entertainment Quarter.

“65 years young, Sydney Film Festival celebrates a spectacular history of storytelling with another 200+ feature films and documentaries, beginning with these first 26 cinematic gems,” said Sydney Film Festival Director Nashen Moodley. “Since 1954 Sydney Film Festival has presented over 9,000 films to Australian audiences. The Festival may have reached a stately age, but it continues every year to deliver the most cutting edge and provocative voices in international cinema.”

“In 2018’s sneak peek of the program, there are features and documentaries from Argentina to the Arctic Circle. From the war zone of Kabul, where young men risk arrest for their love of rock music, to the revolutionary creativity of punk icon Vivienne Westwood, these unique and poignant films share stories of freedom, identity and passion from across the globe.”

“The 2018 Sydney Film Festival is once again proud to kick-start exciting conversations and showcase powerful ideas and bold statements that open eyes, expand horizons and enrich the lives of our audiences and community,” added Moodley.

Leading the titles to screen in 2018 is Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist. The film is a fascinating profile of revolutionary fashion designer and punk icon Vivienne Westwood from UK model-turned-filmmaker Lorna Tucker.

Also topping the list is the winner of Venice Film Festival’s 2017 Grand Jury Prize, Foxtrot from award-winning Israeli director Samuel Maoz; and 2018 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Award winner, The Miseducation of Cameron Post featuring rising stars Chloë Grace Moretz (Carrie), Sasha Lane  (American Honey) and Forrest Goodluck (The Revenant).

Two Oscar winners will also present their latest works: Sebastián Lelio’s (A Fantastic Woman, SFF 2017) Disobedience starring Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams, and Debra Granik’s (Winter’s Bone) Leave No Trace featuring young New Zealand actress Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie.

Bold psychosexual thriller, Piercing starring Australian actress Mia Wasikowska (Madame Bovary, SFF 2015), and spine-tingling British chiller Ghost Stories starring Martin Freeman (The Hobbit), kicks off the 2018 Festival’s Freak Me Out program.

Anchor and Hope also delivers more star power with Natalia Tena (Harry Potter) and Oona Chaplin (Game of Thrones) alongside her mother, Golden Globe nominee Geraldine Chaplin (Chaplin), in the second feature by award-winning Spanish director Carlos Marques-Marcet (10.000 Km).

Closer to home, Australian journalist Travis Beard’s fascinating documentary RocKabul examines Afghanistan’s first metal band District Unknown, and I Used to be Normal: A Boyband Fangirl Story is a coming-of-age documentary about the intense love of boybands, from The Beatles to One Direction.

Maya the Bee: The Honey Games is a new family adventure – voiced by an all-star Australian cast including Richard Roxburgh, The Umbilical Brothers’ Dave Collins and Shane Dundas, and Justine Clarke (ABC’s Play School) – from Australian animation veteran Noel Cleary (Blinky Bill).

An exhilarating debut feature from Australian director Jason Raftopoulos, West of Sunshine, starring Damien Hill (Pawno) alongside his real life step-son Ty Perham, and Kat Stewart (Offspring), will also screen in 2018.

Favourites selected from the international festival circuit include: Sundance 2018 Special Jury Prize winner, Genesis 2.0 a documentary following scientific efforts to resurrect the woolly mammoth in an Arctic spin on Jurassic Park; and Berlinale Silver Bear winner, Mug from renowned Polish filmmaker Malgorzata Szumowska.

Also highly anticipated are Oscar-nominated films: The Breadwinner and The Insult. The Breadwinner was nominated for Best Animated Feature and produced by a team of Academy Award winners including Angelina Jolie and animation studio Cartoon Saloon (Song of the Sea – SFF 2015). Lebanese filmmaker Ziad Doueiri’s potent legal thriller The Insult was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Oscar.

Sundance Grand Jury Prize nominee American Animals stars a cast of young Hollywood talent including Evan Peters (American Horror Story) and Barry Keoghan (Dunkirk, The Killing of a Sacred Deer).

The brand-new digital restoration, from the National Film and Sound Archive, of iconic Australian Oscar nominated film My Brilliant Career (1979) – from acclaimed director Gillian Armstrong and featuring Judy Davis in her movie debut – will revive this multiple award winner for new audiences.

The Festival also features heartwarming fly-on-the-wall glimpses into personal places, such as the family castle of Spanish director Gustavo Salmeron’s eccentric mother in Lots of Kids, A Monkey and A Castle. And the roly-poly lives of five guide puppies as they train for the ultimate canine career in Pick of the Litter also screening in Sydney Film Festival’s brand new Screen Day Out program developed for high school students.

Interracial love, religious cults, Thai high society, and an appetite for raw offal complete a preview of the Festival’s more avant-garde works, with classic noir Samui Song from Thai auteur Pen-ek Ratanaruang (Last Life In the Universe).

In 2018 the Festival will bring films from the world’s top film festivals to venues across Sydney. For the first time the Festival will present a program of films at HOYTS Entertainment Quarter in Moore Park. The venue will feature specially selected line-up of family films, as well as Screenability, the platform for screen practitioners with disability.

The State Theatre, Dendy Opera Quays, Dendy Newtown, Event Cinemas George Street, Art Gallery of NSW, the Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace Cremorne, Randwick Ritz, and Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre return as official Festival screening venues. An exciting virtual reality program will return to the Festival Hub at Sydney Town Hall premiering cutting edge VR experiences, many for the first time in Australia.

The 65th Sydney Film Festival runs 6 – 17 June 2018. Full program will be announced on Wednesday 9 May. Flexipasses and subscriptions are on sale now. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: My Brilliant Career (film still)