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The 2005 Sydney Film Festival

Steve Guttenburg does WHAT!?
by Michael Collins

The biggest film event of the year for Sydney film geeks is not the closing chapter of the Star Wars saga. It's the opening of the Sydney Film Festival. This year's festival - with over 170 films from around the world - really is a pig in mud experience for the cinema fan. Starting on June 10 and running for sixteen days across a variety of locations, eFilmcritic will provide you the vital information on what’s what for the festival. Read on to know the best films to see.

There's an embarrassment of riches at the festival. It's difficult to know where to start. So how about we start at the, er, start.

Opening night film is BAFTA award winner Summer of Love and should be a good one to check out. With a couple of stars from the film turning up to the festival and the all-important after party afterwards this should be a nice - if a tad pricey – way to start the festival.

The festival has a whole bunch of a categories of films to help you choose what ones to see. That is, if you've decided not just to see the whole lot. Go you good thing if you are!

There's the rather generously titled, Gala Events. It's not entirely clear why they are GALA events, but make sure you look good for the photographers, just in case. The pick of these events should be the silent film, People On A Sunday, with newly composed live accompaniment from Ensemble Offspring (No, not the guys who sing Come Out and Play).

The staple of the festival is as always the Contemporary World Cinema. This is where you virtually move house into the State Theatre and set up camp for your hard core cinema experience.

The pick of this bunch looks to be, 5x2 from François Ozon (8 Femmes and Swimming Pool), Alter Egos + Ryan (Academy award winning animation from Canada with accompanying doco).

There's feature documentaries including, Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room, continuing the cinema attack on the corporate world. Girl In a Mirror about Australian photographer Carol Jenkins also looks interesting. It’s already causing a stir before the festival has even started with accusations of censorship when the festival program cropped one of her shots!

Still on censorship, there's also, Inside Deep Throat. Films about the porn industry are always fascinating (and they seriously turn you off porn once you see how awful people are treated) and this one should be no exception.

Oompah bands always make a great film - Just look at Willy Wonka. Alternatively look at, Life Is A Miracle. The new film from Serbian master Emir Kusturica. The madman genius behind Underground and Black Cat/White Cat should give us one of the most absurd offerings of the festival.

More madness and absurdity should be seen in Paradise Now. It is a tale about two boyhood friends who are chosen to be suicide bombers. This will be a chance for us to get inside the mind of these people. I'll be lining up for that one for sure.

British cinema is being featured at the festival with the best of the lot is not actually set in the old country. The Hamburg Cell, is another story dealing with terrorists in training. This time it's some of the terrorists in the most infamous attack of all – the September 11 attacks.

Jan Hrebejk won the hearts and ballot ripping of SFF03 with Divided We Fall. This year he's back with, Up and Down, and Hrebejk will be at the festival to introduce the film and take questions.

Documentaries are again in full force at the festival. Apart from the ones already mentioned an interesting one looks to be I Am A Sex Addict. The eye catchingly titled film is about film's director Cayeh Zähedi confessing his addiction to prostitutes. The film promises confession with humour and maybe a little hope.

Sport and film have an uneasy relationship so impressively SFF05 is going to challenge that idea. A series of sport focus films are being presented. The most appealing looking to be Murderball. I saw some Murderball at the Paralympics (or Wheelchair Rugby as the wowser organising committee insist on calling it) and it was some of the most gripping sport I have ever seen (after the Blind sports that is). A film on the sport will perhaps capture the drama and tension of the sport – and hopefully some of the violence as well.

Go hang out at the Festival Club. Part of the festival experience is to talk about the films afterwards. The Statement Bar underneath the State Theatre will be the place to be for hanging out with your mates afterwards.

Last year the music was so loud in the Statement Bar that you could hear it in the main theatre while people were trying to watch a movie. Let's hope they work on the sound proofing this year.

Closing night film will be a must see. It's, Howl's Moving Castle, by Hayao Miyazaki. Miyazaki's last film was the astounding Spirited Away. This will be an exercise in Japanese animation at its very best and should be a dazzling sight.

Let's talk about the cash. The ticketing arrangements continue to be more and more flexible and rightly so. The precise details are on the festival website.

If you can’t see yourself going all the way with a subscription, the best deals to be had are the flexi pass and mini day passes. You can share the flexi passes with your friends so good deals are to be had if you plan things right. The best way to get tickets if at all possible is by going direct to the State Theatre. Work out what movies you want to see and head on down there.

This is just a sample of what’s in stall for the festival. There’s a heap more. I haven’t even mentioned the increased number of venues (including Hoyts for the first time) and you can discover yourself the opportunity of seeing Steve Guttenburg in hot pants and roller skates. – if you would want to.

See you at the festival!

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originally posted: 06/01/05 12:33:55
last updated: 09/24/05 07:12:03
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