Sydney Film Festival 2021 First Films

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'My Best Part' 'My Best Part'

Before its full programme launch in July, Sydney Film Festival shares the first 22 films to be screened as part of the 2021 event.


“With this first look at our 2021 programme we invite audiences back into cinemas to explore our times through film,” Sydney Film Festival Director Nashen Moodley says.

“The global health crisis has taken a terrible toll on humanity and in many areas of life. We may feel isolated, out of touch, and missing our global connections as we all face restrictions, and have been unable to travel beyond country borders for over a year.

“This August we invite the audience to join us in discovering the important issues, people, places and phenomena motivating the world’s top filmmakers. To come together and share in their diverse experiences.”

Leading the titles from today is ‘Wash My Soul In The River’s Flow’, a musical journey through love and country based around a collaboration between First Nations artists Archie Roach and the late Ruby Hunter, Paul Grabowsky and the Australian Art Orchestra.

Creative duo Jenny Lee and Linda Jackson are honoured with ’Step Into Paradise’, a vibrant, passionate true story of the pair’s enduring friendship and game-changing collaboration.

Next, starring in a very different role, Australian screen icon Essie Davis plays a single mother battling the system and her troubled past in ‘The Justice Of Bunny King’, with Thomasin McKenzie (‘Jojo Rabbit’).

‘Night Riders’, a Canada-New Zealand production, is a tale of Indigenous resistance set in a dystopian future, directed by Cree/Metis woman Danis Goulet and executive produced by Taika Waititi.

Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen headlines ‘Riders Of Justice’, an eccentric, transgressive crime-comedy and Mads’ fifth collaboration with director Anders Thomas Jensen.

Ellie Coltrane and Joe Manganiello feature in The Smiths tribute ‘Shoplifters Of The World’, inspired by true events.

‘Zola’ chronicles the infamous 148-tweet threat from A’Ziah ‘Zola’ King. It was nominated for a Sundance Grand Jury Prize in 2020.

Australian director Eddie Martin revisits the cast of Larry Clark’s ‘Kids’, 26 years after its release in ‘The Kids’.

‘Memory Box’, nominated for the 2021 Berlinale Golden Bear, sees filmmakers Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige meditate on the role memory plays in shaping our lives.

Award-winning director Jennifer Abbott brings potent stories from the frontlines of climate change in ‘The Magnitude Of All Things’, travelling the world and capturing a planet in crisis. It features Greta Thunberg among many vital activists.

zola sff2021
'Zola'

International festival circuit prize-winners include. . .

‘Hive’, which won Grand Jury Prize, Best Director and Audience Awards at Sundance 2021. It’s the debut drama from Kosovo-born filmmaker Blerta Basholli about the true story of a Kosovo War widow fighting the patriarchy.

Venice 2020 Special Jury Prize winner ‘Dear Comrades!’, examining the true events of the Novocherkassk massacre of 1962, from Russian director Andrei Konchalovsky.

2020 Berlinale Golden Bear winner ‘There Is No Evil’ from Mohammad Rasoulof, a powerful take on the death penalty and its impact on Iranian society.

Berlinale 2021 Silver Bear winner ‘Wheel Of Fortune And Fantasy’, presenting three stories about coincidences and three complicated women, by Japanese director Ryusuke Hamaguchi.

And Sundance 2021 Special Jury and Audience Awards winner ‘Writing With Fire’, a documentary about the journalists behind India’s all-female news network, and their tenacious grassroots reporting.

International comedic hits include ‘Swan Song’ starring Udo Kier as a former drag queen and snippy hairdresser from small-town Ohio, living in a retirement home. Co-starring Jennifer Coolidge, Linda Evans and Michael Urie. . . And ‘My Best Part’, the directorial debut from French actor Nicolas Maury, starring as a highly-strung actor alongside Nathalie Baye as his doting mother.

On the supernatural and scary side of things is director Christian Petzold’s ‘Undine’ starring Paula Beer and Franz Rogowski; Philippe Lacote’s drama ‘Night Of The Kings’; and, as part of Sydney Film Festival’s Freak Me Out programme, ‘The Beta Test’ from Jim Cummings and PJ McCabe.

The first of this year’s Family Films is ‘The Ape Star’ about outsiders and unconventional love, adapted from Frida Nilsson’s novel and directed by Sweden’s Linda Hamback.

The full Sydney Film Festival programme drops on 21 July.

Sydney Film Festival runs from 18-29 August.

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