Films

SFF 2014 Preview

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    Altman on Altman

    Altman on Altman

    When Robert Altman was granted an honorary Oscar for lifetime achievement at the 2006 Academy Awards eight months before his passing, Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin introduced him as "a man who didn't play by the rules or stick to the script." Presented at SFF 2014 by Altman's eldest son, Michael Altman, this selection of classics - both the hits and lesser-known titles - celebrates his idiosyncratic career and cinematic genius.

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    Black Coal, Thin Ice

    Black Coal, Thin Ice

    Winner of the Golden Bear at this year's Berlinale, this stylish and exhilarating film noir is set in industrial northern China. The story follows a murder investigation that ends in tatters when police officers are killed and wounded while arresting suspects. Forced to retire, injured officer Zhang takes up the trace years later when similar murders come to light and a beautiful and mysterious woman enters the picture.

    Cold in July

    Cold in July

    Michael C. Hall (Dexter), Sam Shepard and Don Johnson (Miami Vice) are an unlikely Texan trio in this nasty and funny pulp thriller from director Jim Mickle (Stake Land, SFF 2011; We Are What We Are, SFF 2013). After killing a home intruder, Richard (Hall) becomes a reluctant hero. When the dead man's father (Shepard) stalks his family, things take an unexpected turn. Enter wisecracking PI Jim Bob (Johnson), and the three go on to uncover a grisly secret.

    E-Team

    E-Team

    In the midst of humanitarian crises, Human Rights Watch sends in specially trained investigators armed only with laptops and mobiles - the E-Team. They painstakingly interview witnesses to atrocities, often under perilous circumstances, determined to capture their stories before they are suppressed. This documentary skilfully captures their commitment and profound humanity.

    Frank

    Frank

    Michael Fassbender, Domhnall Gleeson and Maggie Gyllenhaal star in a hip, hilarious and sometimes dark comedy from Irish director Lenny Abrahamson (What Richard Did, SFF 2013; Garage). Fassbender always wears a bizarre giant fake head as the enigmatic lead singer of an ambitious indie-pop group. He and his bandmates go from an excruciatingly long recording session to facing the pitfalls of fame at SXSW.

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    Gabrielle

    Gabrielle

    In this uplifting tale from the producers of SFF 2012 Audience Award winner Monsieur Lazhar, a musically gifted young woman with intellectual disability falls in love, only to discover her family has concerns. Can she handle an adult sexual relationship? Gabrielle won the Canadian Screen Award for Best Film, and radiant newcomer Gabrielle Marion-Rivard (in a semi-autobiographical role) won Best Actress.

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    God Help the Girl

    God Help the Girl

    Directed by and featuring music from Belle and Sebastian's Stuart Murdoch, this is a warm coming-of-age story turned indie-pop musical. Troubled yet fantastical dreamer Eve (played by Emily Browning), sensitive musician James (Olly Alexander) and posh Cass (Hannah Murray) sing and dance their way through the streets of Glasgow during what is bound to be the most idyllic summer of their lives.

    Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy?

    Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy?

    In this filmed conversation, French cinematic visionary Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) meets 'the most important thinker alive' - philosopher, linguist and activist Noam Chomsky. Featuring brightly coloured, hand-drawn animation to illustrate Chomsky's personal life and ideas, and crafted with verve, it's both a visual and cerebral pleasure.

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    Joe

    Joe

    Nicolas Cage delivers a remarkable performance as a hard-drinking tough guy with a violent past in this Southern Gothic drama from David Gordon Green (Prince Avalanche, SFF 2013; Pineapple Express). When he meets 15-year-old Gary (Tye Sheridan), who suffers under an abusive alcoholic father, Joe takes the enterprising young man under his wing, and together they navigate a difficult world in search for redemption.

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    Killers

    Killers

    From cult-hero co-directors the Mo Brothers (Macabre): A Tokyo serial killer uploads footage of his grisly deeds to a secret website. When a Jakarta journalist stumbles across the videos, he decides to follow suit and administer his own form of filmed justice. When the seasoned psycho and the copycat meet, the stage is set for intense psychological drama.

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    Love Is Strange

    Love Is Strange

    John Lithgow and Alfred Molina are magnificent in this topical and tender romance. After 39 years together, Ben and George are wed in New York under new marriage laws. Soon after, George is fired from his teaching job at a Catholic school; and the pair are forced to give up their comfortable lives. The great supporting cast includes Marisa Tomei.

    The Lunchbox

    The Lunchbox

    Irrfan Khan (Life of Pi, Slumdog Millionaire) stars in this Indian indie hit - a delicious celebration of romance and food. In Mumbai's remarkable dabba (lunchbox) delivery system, only one in four million home-cooked meals is ever lost. That one wayward lunch connects a housewife with an office worker in the dusk of his life, leading them into a rich fantasy.

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    Nelson Mandela: The Myth and Me

    Nelson Mandela: The Myth and Me

    Nelson Mandela remains an international icon of peace. In his personal letter to Mandela - augmented by interviews with the Dalai Lama, Ariel Dorfman, Tariq Ali, Henry Kissinger and others - director Khalo Matabane confronts his childhood hero with the difficult question of whether Mandela went too far in his policy of forgiveness and reconciliation.

    Omar

    Omar

    The latest Oscar-nominated drama from Palestinian director Hany Abu--Assad (Paradise Now, SFF 2005) is a high-impact thriller tinged with political consciousness and imbued with romance and tragedy. A young Palestinian resistance fighter is arrested and blackmailed by Israeli secret police, but attempts to double-cross them in a desperate bid for love and freedom.

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    Particle Fever

    Particle Fever

    The biggest machine ever built, the Large Hadron Collider was designed to recreate the moments after the Big Bang, thus explaining the origin of matter (the 'God Particle'). In this immensely enjoyable documentary, former physicist Mark Levinson takes us inside the moment of truth: when the switch is thrown for the first time. Particle physicists have rarely been so compelling - or funny.

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    Pulp

    Pulp

    It's the day of Pulp's last UK concert in their hometown of Sheffield, and all across the city fans are ready for a big night. New Zealander Florian Habicht's loving portrait of this iconic Britpop band is full of wit and warmth, and when gangly, charismatic genius Jarvis Cocker takes to the stage, and the crowd sings 'Common People', you'll want to join in!

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    The Redfern Story

    The Redfern Story

    WORLD PREMIERE: Darlene Johnson's forceful documentary tells the story of the volatile birth of the first all-Indigenous theatre company, the National Black Theatre. Featuring interviews with indigenous media pioneer Lester Bostock, writer Gerry Bostock, actor Lillian Crombie, activist-academic Gary Foley, academic Marcia Langton, actors Rachael Maza, Bryan Brown and Bindi Williams.

    The Redfern Story is presented in partnership with Screen Australia's Indigenous Department, the ABC and Vivid Sydney.

    Rosebud Exhibition at the Hub

    Rosebud Exhibition at the Hub

    All of us have meaningful objects we carry through our lives - objects that tell a story about who we are and who we aspire to be; objects that mean little to anyone else but signify the world to us. Inspired by the title character's beloved sled in Orson Welles' classic film Citizen Kane, Los Angeles-based Australian photographer Hugh Hamilton brings to the Festival Hub at Town Hall a series of striking portraits of such objects, along with their owners - a gallery of the brightest talents of the film world.

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    Ruin

    Ruin

    In the stunning follow-up to Hail (SFF 2011), Australian filmmakers Michael Cody and Amiel Courtin-Wilson deliver a visually breathtaking, impressionistic tale of love and brutality. Phirun and Sovanna are magnetically drawn together when forced to flee the city and take to the jungle. Along with growing love, they face burgeoning chaos and violence.

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    Sepideh: Reaching for the Stars

    Sepideh: Reaching for the Stars

    This heart-stirring documentary follows an Iranian teenager who yearns to be an astronaut despite social mores and financial woes. Sepideh hauls her telescope to the dark hills surrounding her rural hometown, trailing gossip in her wake - good Iranian girls don't go out after dark. Filmed over several years, this is compelling, inspiring viewing.

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    The Texas Chain Saw Massacre

    The Texas Chain Saw Massacre

    Forty years after it was released to high acclaim and hysterical outrage, now superbly restored, Tobe Hooper's classic is a superior slasher film - and much more. With very little explicit violence, this tale of five young friends who encounter a family of cannibal psychopaths remains one of the most notorious, influential and terrifying motion pictures ever made.

    Presented as a special late-night screening at Blacktown's Skyline Drive-In on Friday 13 June

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    Tom at the Farm

    Tom at the Farm

    Xavier Dolan, the young Canadian who won the 2010 Sydney Film Prize at the age of 21 for Heartbeats, directed and stars in this tense and complex Hitchcockian psychological thriller. A young man attends the funeral of his gay lover in rural Quebec, only to find himself trapped in a dangerous dance of lust and sadistic impulses with the deceased's brother.

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    Ukraine Is Not a Brothel

    Ukraine Is Not a Brothel

    Australian filmmaker Kitty Green's fascinating documentary follows the members of FEMEN, the infamously topless female protestors of Ukraine - naked warriors against patriarchy. Such defiance has a price: the women tell of their horrific treatment at the hands of the authorities. The disturbing question, however, is just who controls their campaign?

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    The Unknown Known

    The Unknown Known

    Oscar winner Errol Morris puts former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in front of his penetrating lens, quizzing him on the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, his relationship with George H.W. Bush, and his years in office. Rumsfeld takes it all in his stride, and Morris' patient, insistent probing makes for fascinating viewing.

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    Watermark

    Watermark

    Filmmaker Jennifer Baichwal and environmental photographer Edward Burtynsky (Manufactured Landscapes) reunite to document humanity's relationship with water. Stunning aerial footage - filmed over three years - of the rapid shrinking of immense natural waterways is interspersed with firsthand accounts that tell of our use and misuse of this vital resource.

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    We Are the Best!

    We Are the Best!

    Lukas Moodysson (Together; Lilya 4-EverShow Me Love, SFF 2009) returns with a boisterous, feel-good film about three 13-year old girls in early '80s Stockholm who are determined to start up a punk band despite their considerable absence of musical ability. Sweet, humane and wonderfully energetic, We Are the Best! will inspire young and old alike.

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