The Iris’ Sydney Film Festival Awards: Naming the Best of the 2016 Screenings

With a mammoth lineup of over 240 films, this year’s Sydney Film Festival was one of the best efforts yet. From the return of Mel Gibson in Blood Father to the crude-but-evocative absurdism of Swiss Army Man, there was a lot on offer. We’ve compiled our picks for the best of the festival below:

Best Australian film

Winner: Goldstone


“One part Western, one part Detective Noir and one part uniquely Australian, Goldstone is a no holds barred action thriller which has you gripped on the edge of your seat from the minute the first scene kicks into gear. Handled effortlessly by Sen’s direction, the action scenes come quick and fast, and are perfectly interspersed with his own special brand of larrikin Aussie humour”

Runner Up: Down Under


“Jokes at the expense of both sides cleverly highlight the similarities they share, and Forsythe drives this home by darting back and forth as the groups get closer together and the film hurtles towards a more tragic, serious tone for which the director holds very little back.”

Best International film (English)

Winner: Everybody Wants Some!!


“Arguably Director Richard Linklater’s most unadulterated and enjoyable productions ever. I had a smile on my face from start to finish. Fans of Dazed and Confused will not be disappointed, and in many ways he has surpassed his spiritual predecessor. This comes thanks to greater studio support, a fantastic, mostly unknown, cast and a more focused script. Both a great college film that puts it alongside the likes of Animal House, and a surprisingly good sports film, embedding us in the first days of training for the College Baseball season. You won’t want to miss this film – in the context of its genre, it’s absolute perfection.”

Runner Up: Closet Monster


“Though hardly the first drama film to concern itself with what it means to grow up queer in the 21st century, it feels rare to find a film as well realised as this one. The acting, direction, editing and music in Closet Monster all deliver, while Stephen Dunn‘s script works overtime to make good on the film’s many personal touches. The whole endeavor is bristling with creative energy and the results are vivid.”

Best International film (Non-English)

Winner: Land of Mine


“Dutch Director Martin Zandvliet has presented us with a taut, highly strung yet somewhat sobering and hopeful drama in Land of Mine, fully fleshing out the suspense and tragedy of a post-WWII landscape.”

Runner Up: Suntan


“Director Argyris Papadimitropoulos has a darkly comical voice with which he approaches his new film Suntan, willing to lighten the mood with a playful, enjoyable middle but never quite losing focus of the uncomfortable message at the end of it all.”

Best Documentary

Winner: Miss Sharon Jones!

miss sharon jones

“Miss Sharon Jones! is a deeply personal and intimate exploration of a cancer survival story of one of America’s most underrated and under-appreciated musicians. If you weren’t a fan of her before, you will most definitely be a convert after seeing this.”

Runner Up: Europe, She Loves


“A surprisingly intimate look into the emotions and lives of five couples across Europe, the film never really looks, nor feels, like a documentary. It wears its authenticity with pride, inviting you to engage and connect with a snapshot of modern European identity politics.”

To check out our full reviews for these films and the rest of our Sydney Film Festival coverage click here.


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