A Guide to Sydney Film Festival’s Line-Up for 2019

The 2019 Sydney Film Festival program is here and it’s spectacular. There are tonnes of great films to sort through – and to leave your bank account quaking – so here’s our picks to help focus your spending.

Photo Credit: City of Sydney

Yesterday, the program for the 2019 Sydney Film Festival was released and we’re still reeling. There’s a slew of zombie kills, ads for tourism Australia, some sexy space adventures and an Agnes Varda throwback destined to make you cry. It’s a lot to navigate so we’ve brought together a summary of everything you need to know.

In Competition:

Twelve films make up the line-up of films in competition this year; with feminist-satire, farm-side humour and controversial memoirs filling out the list. Heart and Bones brings back local favourite, Hugo Weaving onto our screens as a photographer who discovers an image that has the potential to ruin his life. While Okja director, Bong Joon-ho returns with Parasite, a suspenseful examination of two families living in vastly different conditions.

But unless you have a spare couple hundred to spend catching every film up for the big win, we recommend one in particular:

Judy and Punch (2019)

This directorial debut by Australian actress, Mirrah Foulkes (The Crown, Animal Kingdom) is inspired by the traditional puppet show “Punch and Judy”. With the addition of some darkly comic – and beautifully gothic – themes, as well as a script full of razor-sharp feminist satire, this 17th century fable about puppeteers might just take out the big prize. Starring another Australian favourite, Mia Wasikowska, the film promises a twisted experience brimming with laughter, horror and maybe a puppet or two?

There’s no trailer for this one but keep an eye out, it’s certain to make a splash.

Photo credit: Sundance Film Festival

Get’em while they’re hot:

Every year there are a couple of films that stop at the Sydney Film Festival before they’re swept up into inevitable blockbuster, and even Oscar, success. Last year we had Blackkklansman, this year we’re stumped for choice. Firstly, there’s the animated follow up to Secret of Pets. Even if the film isn’t your vibe, stars Tiffany Haddish and Kevin Hart will be attendance to promote the film which could be fun. Claire Denis’ High Life is the noir, sci-fi thriller already winning the hearts of critics worldwide and Amazing Grace gives unparalleled access into a previously unreleased concert by a 29-year-old Aretha Franklin.

But our pick of the film you should definitely catch is:

The Dead Don’t Die:

Jim Jarmusch returns with a dark-comedy zombie thriller destined to be equal parts weird and wonderful. A darling of indie cinema, Jarmusch has a reputation for well-crafted films that cross genre boundaries and have fun doing it. His last film, Paterson, was widely acclaimed when it premiered at Cannes in 2016. Plus, with Selena Gomez, Adam Driver, Bill Murray, Chloe Sevigny and indie-favourite Tilda Swinton, it’s already destined to make a box-office splash in the pool reserved for non-Marvel films.

The Oldies:

Every year, Sydney Film Festival screens some classic films that draw every vintage cinephile and black-and-white film-lover from far and wide. This year there’s a classic German Expressionist horror from 1922, The Golem: How He Came into the World, and Béla Tarr’s 1994 masterpiece, Sátántangó. But this year the focus is on legend of the French New Wave cinema of the 1960s, Agnes Varda. To commemorate her passing in March, a collection of the legendary director’s films will screen.

We recommend seeing them all but, if you have to choose one, go for the 1963 classic about a selfish actress awaiting a crucial call from her doctor:

Cleo from 5 to 7:

True Blue Gems:

It wouldn’t be the Sydney Film Festival without some Australian films side by side with international juggernauts. This year, Rachel Ward’s Palm Beach and New Zealand gem Daffodils are sure to warm hearts and delight audiences. But there is one film that we can’t help but hype:

The Nightingale

Jennifer Kent stunned and horrified audiences with 2014’s The Babadook. In between becoming a gay-icon, The Babadook has only grown in its reputation and infamy since its premier. This year, Kent returns with another horrific tale seething with Gothic imagery a la Jane Eyre and unending suspense. Starring Sam Claflin, Aisling Francioisi and Harry Weaving (son of Hugo Weaving). It’s already caused quite a stir at the Venice Film Festival and we can’t wait to be Baba-shook shook shook all over again.

With tonnes of other films to offer – and a closing night film yet to be revealed – this year’s festival is shaping up to be one wild cinematic ride. Keep an eye out on the program as the run off from Cannes Film Festival sweeps over the Pacific to land on our shores.

Check out the full program here.

Let us know which films have made it onto your must-see list at this year’s Sydney Film Festival.