A strong batch of local product and world preems forms the backbone of the Sydney Film Festival program announced Friday.
While the opening night film, Pawel Pawlikowski’s “My Summer of Love” stems from Blighty , Australia’s premiere fest (June 10 -25) is acting as the launch pad for a range of local pics.
World preem “Mosaic” from tyro helmer Aaron Catling, explores the story of Candice, a 14-year-old who is assaulted by her “uncle” Ray. The film follows the pair over a decade as their lives crumble until they both realize that the only way to move forward is to deal with the incident in their past.
Catling cites his influences as Australian cinema from the 70s and 80s and favours a harder edged tale as a counterpoint to the traditionally saccharine Oz comedies.
Also set for a world debut is “Blacktown” by helmer/scribe Kriv Stenders. Set in Sydney’s western suburbs, pic looks at the tense romance between Nikki, an office worker and Tony and Aboriginal bus driver who saves her from a date rape.
“The Oyster Farmer” get its Australian preem at the SFF. Pic toplines Alex O’Lachlan as a newcomer who shakes up the Hawkesbury River oyster community.
Rounding out what is a largely gritty, urban view of Oz in this year’s line up is “The Magician” by Scott Ryan, a Tarantino-esqe mockumentary about a film crew following around a Melbourne hitman comes to Sydney from the Melbourne Underground Film Festival.
One theme running through the 52nd edition of the SFF is Muslim identity and it takes a local view in a world preem docu.
“Silma’s School” is about Noor Al Houda Islamic College in Western Sydney. Pic looks at the battle the school has with local authorities over the contaminated land on which it is based, cut together with scenes of school life.
Also on the docu front “Frank Hurley: The Man Who Made History” from writer/director Simon Nasht looks at the impact of photographer Frank Hurley who is famous for his photographs of World War II and Enrest Shackletons’s Antarctic voyage. Hurley also recorded images of Australia and docu examines his legacy with the help of his twin daughters.
Oz docu maker David Bradbury courts controversy in “Blowin the Wind” a pic that looks at U.S. weapons testing and arms in Australia.
Finally, touted as treading the line between docu and drama is “Jabe Babe — Heightened Life” about an unusually tall woman with the life-threatening disease Marfan Syndrome, who also happens to be a professional dominatrix. Pic examines society’s views of body image and its outlook on disease.
Fest will also see the return of the “meet the filmmakers” sidebar Popcorn Taxi which will have talks from director Richard Hawkins who will discuss the Ray Winstone-starrer “Everything” that follows the relations between a man (Winstone) who regularly pays a prostitute (Jan Graveson) just to talk.
The SFF 2005 program includes more than 170 films from 39 countries with strands covering sports, rock ‘n’ roll, new Asian cinema, docus, visionary filmmakers and the best of British and Argentine cinema.