Blaze, Lynch/Oz and Mystery Road: 10 films to see at the Sydney Film Festival 2022 | Sydney Film Festival 2022

After a hairy few years for the Sydney Film Festival – postponed to 2021 after one online only installment in 2020 – things appear to be more or less back to normal, with the event taking place June 8-19 and featuring its first full schedule since 2019.

As usual, the programmers spared no cinematic effort, traveling the world in search of cinematic delights. Here are 10 films to check out at this year’s festival.

Director: Various / Country: Australia/New Zealand

For the second year in a row, the opening night feature is an anthology production divided into eight chapters. Last year was Sydney drama Here Out West; this year it is a co-production between Australian First Nations and Maori filmmakers, who reflect on the colonization of indigenous peoples. Timed to coincide with the 250th anniversary of Captain Cook’s arrival, the chapters vary in tone and genre, from an animation set in ancient times to a dystopian story based in underground tunnels in Auckland.

Director: Teemu Nikki / Country: Finland

First of all, I love this title! Second, the premise: an action thriller shot from the perspective of a blind person. This very ambitious concept would have been executed through heavy use of close-ups, as there are no establishing shots, and a soundtrack full of narrative detail. The story involves wheelchair-bound Jaakko (Petri Poikolainen) who sets out to meet his long-distance love (Marjaana Maijala), whom he has never met in person.

Director: Alexandre O Philippe / Country: WE

The Wizard of Oz is an extraordinarily imaginative blockbuster with a cultural impact impossible to measure. Gauging its influence on a particular director is a little more manageable, however, so Alexandre O Philippe (whose previous film investigations include Memory: The Origins of Alien) sets out to track how the film influenced the work of David Lynch. The great author is a fan, going so far as to say: “Not a day goes by that I don’t think of the Wizard of Oz.

Director: Dylan’s River / Country: Australia

Mark Coles Smith as the younger self of one of ‘Australia’s greatest screen sleuths’ in Mystery Road: Origin

With his Akubra hat, cowboy boots and no-BS attitude, Jay Swan – played by Aaron Pedersen in two Mystery Road films and two spin-off TV series – belongs in the pantheon of Australia’s greatest detectives. A new six-part series continues the character’s legend by focusing on his early years, as a young constable (now played by Mark Coles Smith) working in a town called Jardine. Mystery Road: Origin was directed by Dylan River, son of famed filmmaker Warwick Thornton.

Director: Kevin Kopacka / Country: Germany

Who wouldn’t want, in the words of this year’s festival program, an “orgiastic psychedelic time-traveling dream”? German director Kevin Kopacka’s bizarre horror flick – known as Hinter den Augen die Dämmerung in his native language – follows a couple who inherit an old, dilapidated castle where, of course, all sorts of weird supernatural things happen. produce.

One of the characters notes that “renovating this place is going to cost us a fortune”, which made me think: why shouldn’t shows like The Block be inspired by this film and others like it, placing contestants in haunted houses that they must redecorate while fending off evil spirits from hell?

Director: Alejandro Loayza Grisi / Country: Bolivia/France/Uruguay

What semi-respectable film festival program wouldn’t be complete without a drama about an elderly couple of llama herders living through the drought in the Bolivian highlands? Utama, which won a major award at this year’s Sundance, garnered rave reviews – ScreenDailyfor example, describing it as a “strikingly beautiful work that utilizes stunning widescreen cinematography” and the hollywood journalist as “a powerful and uplifting tale of survival in a dying world”.

Director: Ari Foman / Country: France/Belgium/Luxembourg/Netherlands/Israel

The latest from Ari Folman, who directed the semi-autobiographical animation Waltz With Bashir, reworks the story of Anne Frank from a contemporary perspective. The tale summons to life an imaginary friend of Frank’s, Kitty, who emerges from the pages of her diary and goes in search of her maker, believing she is still alive. In a four-star review, Peter Bradshaw described the film as “a kind of fantasy reimagining or reboot, rereading history through a contemporary lens and giving it a kind of YA identity.”

Director: David Estal / Country: Australia

Any movie set in the back of a car should evoke memories of David Cronenberg’s beautifully peculiar GFC commentary, Cosmopolis, an adaptation of a book by Don DeLillo starring R-Patz as a young billionaire who uses a limousine as a mobile office. David Easteal’s Australian film is mostly set in the backseat of a car carrying a real Melbourne lawyer, whose story is fleshed out during his daily commute.

Director: Joe Chase / Country: UK

“A very curious example of form reflecting content”: We Met in Virtual Reality was filmed entirely inside a VR server

VRChat is well known to VR enthusiasts as a social platform where users wearing avatars come together to make friends and visit various worlds, stylized with strikingly different aesthetics. Joe Hunting’s documentary focuses on people falling in love with VRChat during the pandemic. The main novelty is that the entire doco was filmed/recorded inside VR, making it a very curious example of form-reflecting content.

Director: Del Kathryn Barton / Country: Australia

Julia Savage as a young girl in Blaze by Del Kathryn Barton – and her imaginary friend.
Julia Savage – and her imaginary friend – in Del Kathryn Barton’s Blaze

After a 12-year-old girl (Julia Savage) witnesses a sexual assault as she walks home from school, help to deal with her subsequent trauma comes from an unlikely place: a dragon! Presumably, this dragon belongs to the imaginary friend variety rather than the type of powerful beast depicted in Game of Thrones. Blaze is the feature debut of Del Kathryn Barton, a two-time Archibald Award-winning artist known for her incredibly surreal and evocative works. Barton will also take part in a talk at the Sydney Film Festival Center on June 18.

About Victoria Rothstein

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