Now he has made a documentary describing his mother’s last years, Everyone is Grandma, will have its world premiere at the Sydney Film Festival next month. Described as an “uplifting film that charts the family’s playful, moving and hopeful journey into the public spotlight and behind the scenes,” it entered the $10,000 competition for Best Australian Documentary.
Festival director Nashen Moodley has unveiled a strong lineup of Australian feature films and documentaries for the 69th festival, which runs from June 8-19.
Returning to the traditional winter lock after the pandemic forced it to postpone it until November last year, the festival opens with the anthology film we’re still here a celebration of Aboriginal, Maori and South Pacific Islander resilience from 10 primarily up and coming directors.
“International filmmakers are returning,” Moodley says. “We have parties and activities. It feels like we’re closer to what the festival was like pre-pandemic.”
A departure from tradition, the closing film has yet to be chosen, but it seems unlikely that one of the country’s two major films will hit Cannes this month – Baz Luhrmann’s musical biopic. Elvis or George Miller’s fantasy novel Three thousand years of desire – will be late additions to the program.
The official $60,000 competition for “bold, sophisticated and courageous” cinema includes two daring Australian films that have been well-received at foreign festivals: Archibald Prize-winning artist Del Kathryn Barton’s Blazedescribed as a magical story about a 12-year-old girl who witnesses a shocking crime, and Goran Stolevski’s You won’t be alonea supernatural story about a shape-shifting witch in a Macedonian village.
Also in the competition are the top prize winners at the Berlin Film Festival (Carla Simon’s Spanish drama alcarras), an Indonesian drama set in the tumultuous 1960s (Kamila Andini’s Before, now and then) and a suspenseful Mexican thriller about a teenager’s search for his long-lost father (Lorenzo Vigas’ The box†
As well as a political thriller set in a small Turkish town (Emin Alper’s burning days), there is a documentary about a French couple who became daredevil volcanologists (Sara Dosa’s fire of love) and a love story about an elderly Indigenous couple who fight to preserve their way of life in Bolivia (Alejandro Loayza Grisi’s head†
Promising Australian films showing elsewhere at the festival include Gracie Otto’s Seriously red, a comedy about a woman who becomes a Dolly Parton impersonator; Craig Boreham’s Lonely, about a country boy who discovers Sydney’s gay dating culture; and David Easteal’s The fieldsa docudrama set in a car as a Melbourne lawyer drives home.
Especially topical is Rowan Devereux’s Plotted: a modern romance, about four roommates trying to survive in the Sydney rental market.
The $10,000 documentary contest includes Maya Newell Georgie Stone’s Dream Lifeabout a transgender teenager, Luke Cornish’s keep walkingwhich focuses on two Sydney street dancers, and Brodie Poole’s General Herculesabout a quirky mayoral election in Kalgoorlie.
Moodley says it’s been a strong year for comedies at the festival, citing Cooper Raiff’s Cha Cha Really Smoothabout a graduate director played by the director who falls in love with an elderly mother, played by Dakota Johnson, and Australian director Sophie Hyde’s Good luck to you Leo Grandewho has Emma Thompson as a retired widow who hires a young sex worker.
Then there’s Armagan Ballantyne’s absurd Kiwi comedy nude tuesday, featuring Damon Herriman and Jackie van Beek as a couple trying to save their marriage during a New Age retreat, and Craig Roberts’ The specter of openness, with Mark Rylance as the worst golfer to ever play the British Open.
While there are fewer great Hollywood movies than then King Richard† Dune and Zola screened last year, Ralph Fiennes and Jessica Chastain star in John Michael McDonagh’s black strip the forgivenand Amy Schumer, Richard Jenkins and Steven Yeun star in Stephen Karan’s family drama The people†
Discover the following TV series, streaming series and movies to add to your must-sees. Have The Watchlist delivered every Thursday†