“The response from our audience has been fantastic, we’ve seen a real appetite for film.”
With the Sydney Film Fest in full swing online Festival junkees and toe-dippers alike still get to enjoy the early-June staple amongst friends even if we’re a little further apart this year. With the annual ‘Europe! Voices of Women in Film’ strand now taking on an even stronger pride of place amidst a less expansive yet still premiere Program, with individual tickets and Fest passes now on sale, Sydney Film Festival Director Nashen Moodley sat down to talk 2020 and highlights.
“Europe! Voices of Women in Film, run in collaboration with European Film Promotion, showcases films from some of Europe’s most vital female filmmakers – many of whom we introduce to Australian audiences for the first time,” said Nashen. “From gripping Irish sci-fi thriller ‘Sea Fever’ to gritty German love story ‘Kids Run’ and daring Swedish drama ‘Charter,’ each film brings something unique to the Festival and enriches the overall program.”
Amidst the selection ‘Sea Fever,’ a flick that would likely have otherwise been programmed in the ‘Freak Me Out’ strand, stands out as a high point among both the retrospective and premiere selections. A mix of sci-fi, thriller, horror, fantasy and folklore set far off the west coast of Ireland (our full review here), there’s a fair amount of emerging talent behind and in front of the camera worth having on your radar.
‘Kids Run,’ covering the career and life of an amateur boxer and struggling father of three, hits a lot of the strides of many a familiar fight flick; notably excelling in it’s final, sport-centric stretch when a key contest turns on a beat novel to boxing dramas making much better use of the ring as an analogy for perseverance, as is commonly the case, than most.
‘Charter,’ likewise about a struggling parent, the fallout of a broken relationship and too benefiting greatly from well-cast child actors, navigates contentious and deliberately nebulous material sometimes to great effect and inevitably wildly different interpretations. One karaoke sequence, appearing at the outset as if characters are pointedly going to sing their feelings to the audience and all concerned, turns out to be one of the best in show; doing well to tease out the dynamic between the three family members.
‘Our Law,’ a highlight of the program and an Australian entry, has deservedly garnered much attention amidst rising awareness of racial prejudice and disparity in Australia and across the globe following the reported tragic deaths of Indigenous Australians, African Americans at the hands of Police Officers and the Black Lives Matter and related protests.
Created prior to most recent events (see here for an interview with Director Cornel Ozies), the film is instructive in how cultural sensitivity, knowledge of communities and use of language can be beneficial to law enforcement; chronicling examples of regular challenges and personal hurdles faced by two Western Australian Officers.
“’Our Law’ explores the nature of Police work from the unique perspective of Officers working at Western Australia’s only Indigenous run Police Station,” said Nashen. “It is a particularly significant film as it explores whether Indigenous officers are the key to dismantling prejudiced Police culture from within – a topic that is both very relevant and underexplored.
“In light of the Black Lives Matter movement, the film’s overarching themes are particularly pertinent in today’s socio-political climate.”
Having gone wholly online for the first time ever, amidst numerous Festivals doing so, SFF achieving such to date represents within Australia a unique undertaking given the scale of the project, breadth of the audience and extent and nature of premiere features on offer.
“We are exceptionally grateful for the continued support of filmmakers, Government funders, partners, donors and our audience for helping make the virtual Festival such a success,” continued Nashen.
“We do not currently have plans for an online component in future years. The Festival very much looks forward to seeing our audience in cinemas next year for a fully immersive and connected Sydney Film Festival.”