Sydney Film Festival reveals a diverse and progressive program for its 65th year

As if you would expect anything less, the Sydney Film Festival has once again come through with an exciting, diverse and progressive program for its 65th iteration. Set for 6th to 17th June, the lauded festival is looking to be as immersive and thought-provoking as ever with a program that reaches far beyond the Official Competition and includes everything from the always anticipated Freak Me Out program, to International Documentaries and an expanded virtual-reality program. All in all, the program spans 326 films from 65 countries, including 21 world premieres.

Opening the festival this year will be New Zealand comedy The Breaker Upperers from writers, directors and stars Jackie van Beek and Madeleine Sami. The film follows two cynical misfits earning a living breaking up unhappy couples for cash by faking deaths, impersonating cops and strippers, and feigning pregnancies. The Closing night film will be completely different, focusing more on a heart-warming drama as SFF brings Brett Haley film Hearts Beat Loud to Australia, which stars national treasure Toni Colette alongside Nick Offerman, who plays an ageing hipster dad forming an unlikely band with his reluctant, talented daughter played by Kiersey Clemons.

You can read our interview with Nick Offerman and Brett Haley about Hearts Beat Loud HERE.

The Official Competition, a program of 12 films (half of which showcase the talents of women directors this year), will feature a large range of stories and settings, from war-torn Afghanistan (Jirga) to the recesses of the Ku Klux Klan (BlacKKKlansman, from Spike Lee). Other films include Daughter of Mine by Laura Bispuri, The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Desiree Akhaven, and Transit by Christian Petzold.

As always, activities during the festival will extend far beyond just screenings. The Hub will once again be a rousing pop-up hang out spot for film lovers to engage in Q&As, listen to free talks, and have a tipple or two between screenings, once again cementing itself as the beating heart of SFF’s creative energy.

Several extended talks and Q&A sessions in partnership with Vivid Ideas will also take place, seeing as the two festivals overlap, these include Leigh Whannell (Saw, Insidious) who is also premiering his new cyberpunk-horror film Upgrade as part of the Freak Me Out program. Also on the schedule is a talk from eight industry guests highlighting European women filmmakers and examining the industry gender gap; a panel of Indigenous Australian filmmakers discussing 25 years of industry change; and a look at the making of Jirga by Australian director Benjamin Gilmour, lead actor Sam Smith, and producer John Maynard.

You can read our interview with Leigh Whannell and the stars of Upgrade about the film HERE.

There’s so much to unpack for this year’s SFF and we’ll be doing so in the coming days as we lead into the festival. Stay tuned to The Iris for more on Sydney Film Festival and in the mean time, head on over to their official website to start booking in your screenings.


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Chris Singh

Chris Singh is the Deputy Editor of the AU review and a freelance travel writer. You can reach him on Instagram by following @chrisdsingh.

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