Online Version of Sydney Film Festival Skews Heavily Australian

The Skin of Others
Courtesy of Tarpaulin Productions

The Sydney Film Festival has revealed a heavily Australian leaning selection as the backbone of its first virtual edition.

Organizers had planned a real-world festival for late June. But that was canceled in March due to the coronavirus outbreak, which caused cinemas to be closed and audiences confined to their home addresses.

More recently, the festival organizers saw that they could make use of some of their selection and preparatory work to come up with an online festival instead. Announced on May 3, the online edition will run June 10 – 21.

The full program, announced Wednesday, comprises 7 feature films, 13 documentaries, and 13 shorts, for a total of 33 titles. That compares with some 300 pieces of content in a normal SFF edition.

The lineup is organized in four programming strands: the Documentary Australia Foundation award for best Australian documentary; the Dendy Awards for Australian short films; Europe! Voices of Women in Film; Screenability, which includes three short films and bundled content made by film makers with disabilities.

Highlights of the documentary strand include: Tom Murray’s “The Skin of Others” a portrait of an Aboriginal soldier; “Morgana,” about a housewife who made porn films; and Jakeb Anhvu’s “A Hundred Years of Happiness,” about a rural Vietnamese family’s preparations for their daughter’s arranged marriage in Korea.

All seven of the features appear within the Voices of Women section. They include: “Charter,” “Force of Habit,” “Kids Run,” “My Little Sister,” “A Perfectly Normal Family,” “Sea Fever” and “Zana.”

In order to recreate something of the festival atmosphere, all the features and feature-length documentaries will include a virtual presentation by the film maker and be followed by and online Q&A. Similarly, the DAF winner who collects a $6,000 (A$10,000) award, will be announced at a virtual prize ceremony, on June 18.

State-backed broadcaster SBS will use its OTT platform, SBS On Demand to give 40 films from previous editions of the festival free online screenings for a month, starting from June 10.