by Olana Osborn
posted 02/05/2017

Sydney Film Festival 2017

The 64th Sydney Film Festival today announced 28 prominent new films to be featured in this year’s 7-18 June event, and the first of over 150 Festival guests: award-winning British filmmaker Nick Broomfield, director of the hotly anticipated Whitney Houston documentary Whitney ‘Can I Be Me’. Also revealed in advance of the full program launch of 200+ films on Wednesday 10 May is a new Festival location: Randwick’s iconic Ritz Cinema.

“These films bring together thousands of talents and perspectives from across the globe, to create a lens – a way of looking at and experiencing aspects of the world and ourselves,” Sydney Film Festival Director Nashen Moodley said. “And it’s as entertaining as it is enlightening.

“From the view backstage with Whitney Houston to the view from the top in Mountain or An American Werewolf in London viewed through the windscreen of your car, the 2017 Festival is a collection of film from every angle, from everywhere, for every kind of film lover.”


True stories

Highly anticipated true stories include Oscar-nominated I Am Not Your Negro: a timely perspective on race in America using the words of James Baldwin narrated by Samuel L. Jackson. Controversial post-apartheid South African first lady Winnie Madikizela-Mandela gets an extensive portrait in Winnie, and Rumble: Indians Who Rocked the World is a celebratory examination of Native American musicians and their role in the development of American popular music. Ethan Hawke and Sally Hawkins (Happy Go Lucky, SFF 2008) star in Maudie, based on the life story of Canada’s best known folk artist Maud Lewis.

New venue

In 2017 the Festival will continue to bring films from the world’s top film festivals to venues across Sydney including for the first time at Randwick’s Ritz Cinema – celebrating its 80th birthday this year. The State Theatre, Dendy Opera Quays, the Art Gallery of NSW, Event Cinemas George Street, the Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace Cremorne, Dendy Newtown, Casula Powerhouse, and the Skyline Drive In Blacktown return as official festival screening venues. An expanded virtual reality program will also pop up at the Festival Hub at Sydney Town Hall premiering cutting edge films.

Outstanding documentaries

Outstanding documentaries remain essential to the Festival, and this year’s program has many award-winners and enthralling themes from factual filmmakers around the world. Untitled is the final film of the late Michael Glawogger (Whores’ Glory – SFF2012), created after his death by collaborator Monika Willi. Slovenian metal band Laibach and their Latvian-Norwegian film crew get unprecedented access into North Korea in Liberation Day, and Hoop Dreams director Steve James’s David vs Goliath tale Abacus: Small Enough to Jail is a story about America’s financial crisis that actually manages to paint a bank as the small guys.

The Festival is supported by the NSW Government, through Screen NSW and its tourism and major events agency Destination NSW, the Federal Government through Screen Australia, and the City of Sydney.

The full Sydney Film Festival program will be announced on Wednesday 10 May at 11am.

Note: Flexipasses and subscriptions to Sydney Film Festival 2017 are on sale now. Please call 1300 733 733 or visit for more information.

Tickled Atmos in Cinema Photos at Dendy Newtown

Tickled Atmos in Cinema Photos at Dendy Newtown


From Wednesday 7 June to Sunday 18 June 2017, the 64th Sydney Film Festival offers Sydneysiders another exciting season of cinema amidst a whirlwind of premieres, red-carpet openings, in-depth discussions, international guests and more.

Sydney Film Festival also presents an Official Competition of 12 films that vie for the Sydney Film Prize, a highly respected honour that awards a $60,000 cash prize based on the decision of a jury of international and Australian filmmakers and industry professionals. Previous Sydney Film Prize winners: Aquarius (2016); Arabian Nights (2015); Two Days, One Night (2014); Only God Forgives (2013); Alps (2012); A Separation (2011); Heartbeats (2010); Bronson (2009); and Hunger (2008).

The Festival takes place across Greater Sydney: at the State Theatre, Event Cinemas George Street, Dendy Opera Quays, Dendy Newtown, Skyline Drive-In Blacktown, Art Gallery of NSW, Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace Cremorne, Randwick Ritz, Casula Powerhouse, the Festival Hub at Sydney Town Hall and SFF Outdoor Screen in Pitt Street Mall.

The Festival is a major event on the New South Wales cultural calendar and is one of the world’s longest-running film festivals. For more information visit:

The 64th Sydney Film Festival is supported by the NSW Government through Screen NSW and Destination NSW, the Federal Government through Screen Australia and the City of Sydney. The Festival’s Strategic Partner is the NSW Government through Destination NSW.



Director, Screenwriter: Ramona S. Diaz | Philippines, USA | 2017 | 94 mins | Tagalog with English subtitles | Australian Premiere

A vibrant, Sundance award-winning Filipino documentary filmed in the busiest maternity hospital in the world, that reveals an overcrowded, hectic and yet profoundly humane environment. Mothers, daughters – and the occasional father – cram the corridors of Manila’s Dr. Jose Fabella Hospital. The ward is frenetic: hundreds of beds are strewn with mums and their carefully labelled new-borns. Birth control is frowned upon in this underprivileged, predominantly Catholic community; even unmarried teens and 20-somethings with six kids are reluctant to use it. Resources are limited so, in lieu of incubators, the hospital has adopted Kangaroo Mother Care. Parents are obliged to snuggle their premature babies to their chest, 24 hours a day, until they reach an optimum weight. The camaraderie and openness of these resilient mothers makes Ramona S. Diaz’s film enormously engaging and gratifyingly uplifting.


Director: Marco de Stefanis | The Netherlands, Belgium | 2016 | 84 mins | In English | Australian Premiere

An emotional story of collaboration and dedication set in in a Palestinian West Bank zoo, which involves a cavalcade of animals, their devoted carers and enthusiastic visitors. We first meet the remarkable Dr. Sami, the Qalqilya zoo’s veterinarian, on his way to work, carrying a cute pygmy goat in a cardboard box. He routinely cares for newly born animals at home. “I raise them like my own children,” he tells visiting schoolkids. The zoo is a rare oasis for the local community, and given they cannot leave their environment; it is also their only opportunity to see the world’s creatures. Unhappily, the beleaguered establishment is out-dated, cramped and penniless. Dr. Sami, with the enthusiastic support of his Israeli counterparts at the Jerusalem zoo, seeks international support and recognition. Perhaps in time, he’ll even be able to replace the much-loved giraffes that, spooked by gunfire, died in the last intifada.



Director, Screenwriter: Cristian Mungiu | Romania, France, Belgium | 2016 | 127 mins | Romanian with English subtitles

Winner of the Best Director prize in Cannes 2016, this gripping film by Romanian Cristian Mungiu is about a father’s desperate actions to protect his daughter. Mungiu, who also won the Cannes Palme d’Or for 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (2007), takes a searing look at Romania’s power systems, posing stark and resonant ethical questions. Eliza Aldea has a scholarship to study in the UK, but the day before her final exams she is attacked. Worried that his daughter will fail to get out of Romania, her father Romeo enters into a plan to protect his daughter’s future, even though it involves manipulating the system and entering into a labyrinth of bribery. Shot and directed with Mungiu’s signature control and grace, Graduation explores one of the director’s favourite themes: how good people can find themselves perpetuating the rotten structures of society.


Director: Shubhashish Bhutiani | India | 2016 | 102 min | Hindi with English subtitles | Australian Premiere

An old man drags his busy son to Varanasi so that he may die and attain salvation there in a comedy about death that, at heart, is a delightful, poignant celebration of life. Daya Kumar (Lalit Behl) believes that his end is near, so he tells his family that he wishes to die in the holy city of Varanasi, on the banks of the Ganges. The stubborn old man drags along his reluctant adult son Rajiv (Adil Hussain) and they check into the Hotel Salvation, where people come to die. But once there, Daya gets his lust for life back, making new friends with the other “dying” residents. Daya and Rajiv are forced to reconnect – both to each other and to the world around them. Described as an “arthouse take on the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”, Hotel Salvation is a wonderfully accomplished film that captures the vibrancy and strangeness of Varanasi with gentle humour. It was awarded the UNESCO Prize at Venice for the film that best represents the values of peace and human rights.

What: Sydney Film Festival

When: 7-18 June 2017

Where: Various Cinemas Across Sydney

Ticketing and more information here.


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