See the Director’s Picks at the Sydney Film Festival

The 63rd Sydney Film Festival (8-16 June 2016) held their per-festival drinks on Tuesday 24 May 2016 with great food from Abode Bistro at the Parkroyal Hotel Darling Harbour.

In 2016 the Festival will present 244 films from 60 countries including 25 World Premieres, representing hundreds of fresh perspective and new stories from across Australia and the world.

Nashen Moodley, Festival Director, announced his director’s pick, which included:

Hotel Coolgardie

A wryly observed documentary set in a tiny mining town somewhere between Kalgoorlie and Perth. Two Finnish girls on working visas, Lina and Steph, head to this remote spot for a three-month stint behind the bar of the local pub. It’s a tough gig. The girls contend with drunkenness, relentless sexual advances, and a belittling, bullying boss. The booze-addled patrons rant about failed relationships and female duplicity; it seems the girls’ only ally is the toothless, odorous local, Canman. The barmaids struggle to negotiate this unhealthy environment, with little by way of distraction. Gleeson’s warts-and-all debut is by turns shocking, amusing and unexpectedly moving.

Suntan

Is set on a sun-drenched Greek island and is about a middle-aged doctor becomes obsessed with a group of beautiful, frequently naked, young tourists in this sensual and disquieting drama.

Notes of Blindness

In the early 1980s, writer and theologian John Hull lost his eyesight after decades of steady deterioration, documenting his experience on audio cassettes. Upon publication, author and neurologist Oliver Sacks described Hull’s diaries as “The most extraordinary, precise, deep and beautiful account of blindness I have ever read. It is to my mind a masterpiece.” In 2013, Spinney and Middleton made an award-winning short film based on Australian-born Hull’s experiences entitled Notes on Blindness: Rainfall (SFF 2014). Hull’s profound life is now the inspiration for this breathtaking feature-length film. The filmmaking duo, with an approach akin to Clio Barnard’s The Arbor (SFF 2011), cast actors Dan Skinner and Simone Kirby to lip sync to Hull’s original recordings. The resulting film, and associated VR project (which can be viewed at the Festival Hub), is a remarkable re-creation of the author’s thoughts and observations that unearths the interior world of blindness. Hull was closely involved with the process before his death, aged 80, in July last year.

The Lure

Is unique Polish romance-horror-mermaid-musical that defies classification and deservedly won the Special Jury Award for Unique Vision and Design at Sundance 2016.

Rosita

Is a film with an funny and insightful look at immigration and arranged marriage, a young Filipino woman relocates to a fishing village in Denmark to wed a middle-aged widower.

Zach’s Ceremony

Ten-year-old Zach enjoys fishing and boxing with his dad Alec, and is looking forward to his initiation ceremony. It’s a vital part of his Indigenous heritage, marking the transition from boyhood to manhood. Growing up isn’t easy, and for Zach there are the added pressures of racism and city living – a long way from his father’s community in Far North Queensland. An Aboriginal activist, leader and actor, Alec is a devoted dad, but his strict parenting inevitably causes friction. Shot over six years, this is a remarkable portrait of a young man struggling with identity and his father’s expectations, as he heads towards adulthood.

Weiner

This is a absorbing exposé of Anthony ‘sexting scandal’ Weiner’s 2013 New York mayoral campaign which won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival.

For a full program, go to: www.sff.org.au

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