Sydney Film Festival announces full program for its 71st year

“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,” he said. “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.

This year, the Festival will present 197 films from69 countries including 28 World Premieres and 133 Australian Premieres, bringing together hundreds of new international and local stories, with more to be announced.  The program is made up of 92 narrative feature films, including prestigious international festival prize-winners and 54 documentaries tackling crucial contemporary issues, from established and upcoming documentarians.

The World Premiere of Midnight Oil: The Hardest Line will serve as this year’s Opening Night feature.  Comprised of 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, this film 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.

Direct 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 Poor Things director Yorgos Lanthimos; Grand Tour, the latest from Miguel Gomes about a romantic pursuit across Asia; and 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 directorial debut September Says, a Gothic psychological drama in which the closeness of two sisters becomes increasingly disruptive; and Cannes Un Certain Regard contender Việt 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.

Home to Festival favourites, red carpet events and world premieres, the State Theatre will once again screen a spectacular selection of films this year.

Star-studded features will premiere at the iconic State Theatre with Jodie Comer, Austin Butler and Tom Hardy leading The Bikeriders, Jeff Nichols’ take on the rise and menacing transformation of an iconic American motorcycle club. In Lee, Oscar winner Kate Winslet stars alongside Alexander Skarsgård in the true story of model turned WWII correspondent Lee Miller. My Old Ass is a comedy love story starring Aubrey Plaza and Maisy Stella produced by Margot Robbie; and Viggo Mortensen directs and stars opposite Vicky Krieps in The Dead Don’t Hurt, a feminist western about a romance in a time of corruption and war.

Fresh from screenings at Sundance and Berlinale, The Outrun, is a moving adaptation of Amy Liptrot’s 2017 bestseller, starring Saoirse Ronan as a recovering addict; and a highlight of the 2024 Berlinale competition, A Different Man features Sebastian Stan in a meta dramedy about a man who undergoes radical surgery to become handsome.

Australian films will have their World Premiere at the State Theatre. Kid Snow is an Aussie drama about a travelling tent boxing show set in ’70s outback WA, starring Phoebe Tonkin and Billy Howle; and Ian Darling’s newest documentary The Pool, charts a year in the life of the iconic Bondi Icebergs, the pool and the people who cherish it.

Award winning films include winner of the Special Jury Prize at Venice, Green Border, legendary filmmaker Agnieszka Holland’s refugee thriller; and Porcelain War, which won the Documentary Grand Jury Prize at Sundance 2024, and follows three Ukrainian artists who choose to stay behind and fight.

The spine-tingling Freak Me Out Program, curated by Richard Kuipers, returns with 6 features, 6 shorts and a special live event. Selected for both Berlinale and SXSW 2024, Cuckoo stars Hunter Schafer as a troubled teen working at a holiday resort in the Bavarian Alps, where very strange goings-on start to take place. Annick Blanc’s debut, Hunting Daze (Jour de Chasse) was a SXSW Midnighters hit centred on a woman stranded at a buck’s party in the Quebec wilderness.

Coming direct from its Tribeca World Premiere, Yannis VeslemesShe Loved Blossoms More is a Greek Weird Wave fever dream about time travel and family ties. New Zealand writer-director Michael Duignan’s The Paragon, sees a tennis coach team up with a mysterious psychic tutor to seek revenge on a hit-and-run driver.

A special film and live music event not to be missed, Hear My Eyes: Hellraiser will give audiences the opportunity to experience Clive Barker’s 1987 extra-dimensional horror classic, re-scored live by EBM explorers Hieroglyphic Being and Robin Fox, and a synched laser-art show at City Recital Hall.

Between family-friendly affair, such as the Australian premiere of Illumination’s latest Despicable Me 4, a classically restored screening of Phillip Noyce’s profound narrative on the Stolen Generations, Rabbit-Proof Fence, the FLUX: ART+FILM program, which explores the fertile ground between art and cinema with four radical and innovative films by artists who transform our experience of what cinema can be, and such Sundance winners as June Squibb‘s Thelma, the jaw-dropping Sasquatch Sunset, featuring unrecognisable turns from Riley Keough and Jesse Eisenberg, and the acclaimed I Saw the TV Glow, SFF will leave you wanting for not as it makes sure it’s 71st year is one you won’t be forgetting anytime soon.

Sydney Film Festival will run from Wednesday 5 June to Sunday 16 June 2023, offering Sydneysiders another exciting season of cinema amidst a whirlwind of premieres, red-carpet openings, in-depth discussions, film guests and more. For more information, session times and tickets, visit

Peter Gray

Seasoned film critic. Gives a great interview. Penchant for horror. Unashamed fan of Michelle Pfeiffer and Jason Momoa.