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Sydney fest opens with ‘Lantana’

'Spagnola,' 'Everybody' shutter gathering

SYDNEY — Opening night at the 48th Sydney Film Festival will feature the world preem of Ray Lawrence’s detective drama “Lantana” starring Geoffrey Rush, Barbara Hershey and Anthony LaPaglia.

Fest, unspooling June 8-22, will shutter with a double bill: the world premiere of local director Steve Jacob’s movie “La Spagnola” and the Oz preem of Dominique Deruddere’s “Everybody Famous!” from Belgium.

This year the program will include 150 features and shorts from 28 countries, approximately half from Europe.

United Intl. Pictures is sponsoring a new audience award as part of its commitment to promote European films. The Prix UIP, worth $13,000, will go to the best Euro feature in the Contemporary World Cinema Program.

That prize, and a raft of new sponsorship deals with Tourism New South Wales, Star Alliance and Deutsche Bank, are the festival’s first steps toward introducing a full-fledged competition program. SFF aims to raise $260,000 to launch a competition to celebrate its 50th anni in 2003.

A Paul Schrader retrospective will be minus its star — the director is starting work on his new project, “Auto-Focus” for Propaganda Films.