The 2016 Sydney Film Festival Features Sad Jake Gyllenhaal, A US Congressman’s Dick Pics And More
(Sadly not in the same film).
The Sydney Film Festival has just dropped the first 26 films of its program, giving you a taste of the incredibly daunting 200+ films which will be screening this year. Featuring 17 features and nine docos with 22 Australian premieres between them, the films will be hitting all the regular haunts (as well as last year’s newbie venue Dendy Newtown) from June 8-19 and tickets will go on sale when the full program is announced on May 11.
That should be just enough time for you and your jerk friends to get your shit together, actually follow through on plans made in a group text, and get some real movie dates lined up.
When If that happens, here’s a little of what you could be watching:
Demolition (dir. Jean-Marc Vallée)
After the emotional tales of personal growth in Dallas Buyers’ Club and Wild, Canadian director Jean-Marc Vallée gives us this: a film in which Rich Man Jake Gyllenhaal deals with his wife’s death by writing letters to a vending machine company and sledgehammering his house. It’s okay though — apparently he didn’t like his wife much anyway. I, like many reviewers who’ve caught the film at overseas festivals, have mixed feelings about this.
Maggie’s Plan (dir. Rebecca Miller)
After deciding to ditch messy relationships and pursue motherhood through artificial insemination, Greta Gerwig gets involved with Ethan Hawke despite the fact he’s married to Julianne Moore (classic Gerwig). Gerwig then decides Hawke is a bit of a bore (classic Hawke) and devises the titular plan to hoist him back on his ex-wife who is, by the by, an incredibly classy, big-shot academic (classic Moore).
When writing about this at the Berlin International Film Festival earlier this year, Junkee’s Annabel Brady-Brown said the film had “the neurotic energy of Woody Allen and the irreverence of a Shakespearean comedy”. It’s not a bad recommendation.
Weiner (dir. Elyse Steinberg and Josh Kriegman)
Remember when that married US congressman — whose last name was also a widely-used slang term for a penis — posted a picture of his erect dick on Twitter while sexting a 21-year-old college student and effectively exploded his chances as Mayoral candidate for New York? We now have a movie about it, and it’s co-directed by one of his former political staffers.
Weiner (why would you call it anything else?) took out the Documentary Grand Jury Prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and, you know what? Anthony looks none too pleased about it.
Could have used a better phrase than “warts and all”, hey mate.
Everybody Wants Some!! (dir. Richard Linklater)
We’re 23 years on since Matthew McConaughey uttered his first “alright alright alright” in the classic stoner flick Dazed and Confused and now director Richard Linklater is looking to rekindle the sleazeball magic. This “spiritual successor” follows a goofy college baseball team in the late ’70s/early ’80s and is exactly as American as that sounds.
Disclaimer: don’t go in expecting Boyhood.
A Journey of a Thousand Miles: Peacekeepers (dir. Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy)
The Academy Award-winning director of Saving Face and A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness is now giving us the story of a group of female Bangladeshi police officers who were sent to Haiti as peacekeepers in 2010.
Obaid-Chinoy is a widely-respected journalist, activist and filmmaker whose work often focusses on the experiences of women — both her Oscar winning films were about violence against women (whether through acid attacks or honour killings) in Pakistan. She’s also just been announced as a guest of the festival, so her latest offering will definitely be worth checking out.
Sing Street (dir. John Carney)
Remember the whimsy, music and Irish accents of Once? They’re back.
A Scorsese Retrospective With David Stratton
This year’s (already announced) retrospective program will be exploring the work of Martin Scorsese and thus reads a little like the stack of DVDs your dad keeps lovingly nestled next to the TV in your family home. Over the course of the festival you can watch Mean Streets (1973), Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974), Taxi Driver (1976), New York New York (1977), Raging Bull (1980), The King Of Comedy (1982), Goodfellas (1990), Age of Innocence (1993), Casino (1995), and The Aviator (2004) — all on 35mm prints.
There’s no question those are quality movies, but the real kicker is that the program has been curated by David Stratton. The former At The Movies host (who also served as SFF director from 1966-1983) will be making cameos at a few of the films to give a little introduction. Guess you’ll have to book all of them to make sure you’re around.
Heart of a Dog (dir. Laurie Anderson)
You are cordially invited to spend 76 minutes in the mind of experimental artist Laurie Anderson. Here you will find guided meditations on life and love, an ode to her partner Lou Reed, and a lot of feelings about her terrier named Lolabelle.
You’re right, that clip really sells you short on the Lolabelle. Here she is playing the keyboard:
The full Sydney Film Festival program and tickets to these films will be released on May 11. Check out the full list of announced offerings here.