News / 18 May 2017


SYDNEY FILM FESTIVAL returns from June 7th to 18th for twelve days and nights of inspiring and entertaining premieres, talks and parties. To make your life easier and as genre-packed as possible, we’ve put a together a hit list of everything you need see!

78/52 | Friday June 9th & Monday June 12th | Buy Tickets
A documentary tribute to a movie sequence: the infamous shower scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho gets the full-on geek cinephile treatment. The title refers to the number of set-ups and cuts in the two minute scene in Bates Motel that shocked audiences on release in 1960. Alexandre O. Philippe’s 78/52 tracks in deliciously manic detail the story of this legendary sequence and how it changed cinema forever. Interviews with acclaimed horror filmmakers such as Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth), actor/producer Eli Roth (Cabin Fever, SFF 2003) and Australia’s Leigh Whannell (writer/producer Saw) feature. Three-time Oscar winning editor Walter Murch lends his expertise, as does author/screenwriter Bret Easton Ellis, composer Danny Elfman, actor Elijah Wood and even Hitchcock’s granddaughter Tere Carrubba. Scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis also offers insights on her mother Janet Leigh’s most iconic role.
BETTER WATCH OUT | Sunday June 11th & Friday June 16th | Buy Tickets
HOME ALONE collides with Michael Haneke’s FUNNY GAMES in this wickedly clever and twisted Christmas-themed horror-comedy starring Aussie scream queen Olivia DeJonge (THE VISIT). When high school beauty Ashley (DeJonge) arrives to babysit precocious 12-year-old Luke (Levi Miller, JASPER JONES) it’s the usual routine of ordering pizza and watching a scary movie, but that is where any semblance of normality ends. It would be a sin to even hint at what happens next to Ashley and Luke in their supposedly safe suburban neighbourhood. What we can say is that Better Watch Out generates white-knuckle suspense and pitch black humour while dishing out plot shocks galore that even hardened horror hounds won’t see coming. Directed with a winning combination of guile and brute force by Chris Peckover (UNDOCUMENTED), this twisted Christmas cracker is packed with gory delights.

A GHOST STORY | Tuesday June 13th & Friday June 16th | Buy Tickets
Made in secret and on a micro-budget, A GHOST STORY is a haunting and sparse love story starring Rooney Mara (LION) and Oscar-winner Casey Affleck (MANCHESTER BY THE SEA). Influenced by the work of Apichatpong Weerasethaku, David Lowery’s enigmatic film is built with a sparse narrative, minimal dialogue and a series of glorious images that convey great emotion. Affleck and Mara play a married couple who live in a cosy Texan home. When the man is killed, he returns to the house they shared as a spectral presence covered by a white sheet. The ghost watches his grieving wife as she lives on without him: what follows is a startling meditation on loss, grief, love and the passage of time.

MAYHEM | Friday June 9th & Thursday June 15th | Buy Tickets
This fabulously blood-drenched combo of apocalyptic virus thriller and viciously funny corporate satire slayed ’em at SXSW. Now it’s our turn. Talk about a tough day at the office. Ambitious lawyer Derek Cho (Steven Yeun, THE WALKING DEAD) is framed for dismissal by a calculating superior. If that’s not bad enough the firm’s gleaming office tower then becomes infected by ID7, a virus that causes victims to lose all inhibitions. As rampant fornication and unbridled bloodlust erupt in the quarantined building, Derek meets disgruntled client Melanie (Aussie star Samara Weaving). So begins a fast and furious tale in which the unlikely duo must slaughter their way to the top floor and demand justice from those corrupt scumbag executives who done them wrong. Director Joe Lynch (EVERLY) and writer Matias Caruso, please take a bow.
| Wednesday June 6th & Friday June 16th | Buy Tickets
The horror-comedy classic howls into Sydney in all its blood-drenched glory. Come and watch this delirious mix of gore and gags outdoors, while a full moon hovers over the city. It’s one thing to be bitten by the travel bug and go backpacking around Europe for three months. It is quite another thing to be bitten by a mythical beast while hoofing through the English moors. So begins the genuinely frightening and extremely funny tale of American backpackers David and Jack. Once bitten, twice shy? Not on your life, as Londoners discover when the next full moon rises. But can lovely local nurse Alex (the divine Jenny Agutter) save the day? Written and directed by John Landis (The Blues Brothers) at the height of his powers, AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON set a standard for horror-comedy that’s rarely been equalled. And the soundtrack totally, utterly, completely rocks.

THE BEGUILED | Saturday June 17th & Sunday June 18th | Buy Tickets
Fresh from its Cannes Competition berth, Sofia Coppola’s new film is a seductive thriller set in the Civil War era starring Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst and Elle Fanning. Employing her distinctive aesthetic and sensual style, with THE BEGUILED, Sofia Coppola adapts Thomas Cullinan’s Civil War-set novel into a tale of desire, jealousy and revenge. The film is set in 1864, three years into the Civil War, at a Southern girls’ boarding school. In these perilous times, the girls left at the school are those with nowhere else to go, and they are under the care of Martha Farnsworth (Kidman). When one of the younger girls discovers an injured enemy soldier, it is decided that the ‘Christian thing to do’ would be to take him in until he is sufficiently recovered. As the soldier, John McBurney (Farrell), recovers he becomes the subject of fascination for the girls and women of the house. The prim and proper environment is taken over with sexual tension and rivalries. In this society of virtually no men, the ‘real Southern hospitality’ meted out to McBurney is of a quite unusual kind. Coppola and the excellent cast deal with this material with relish, creating a film filled with eerie tension and flashes of mischievous humour.

SPOOKERS | Saturday June 10th & Sunday June 11th | Buy Tickets
If you’ve ever wondered what possesses someone to work as a creepy clown or zombie bride and scare the hell out of theme park visitors, then SPOOKERS has the answers. Located on the site of a former psychiatric hospital near Auckland, ‘scream park’ SPOOKERS has been scaring the living daylights out of visitors since 2005. Dressing up and playing psycho clowns, corpses and chainsaw-wielding maniacs is all in a day’s work for SPOOKERS’ talented and super-enthusiastic performers. But what draws someone to this line of work, and what are their own fears, hopes and dreams? The answers are revealing, funny and sometimes deeply moving. Complete with beautiful fantasy sequences and made with a huge heart, SPOOKERS is another feather in the cap of gifted Berlin-born, New Zealand-based filmmaker Florian Habicht (PULP, SFF 2014). If ever there was a Freak Me Out ‘family film’, this is it.

DESPERATE LIVING | Sunday June 17th | Buy Tickets
In the sacred year of 1977 the ‘Pope of Trash’ John Waters served up this deliriously demented punk rock fairytale set in the garbage dump kingdom of Mortville. The anarchism and sense of societal decay that propelled the punk rock movement inhabits every frame of DESPERATE LIVING. From the moment we see that dinner plate and meet neurotic Baltimore housewife Peggy Gravel (Mink Stole, superb) we’re plunged into a beautifully bizarre punk-inspired fantasy only John Waters (PINK FLAMINGOS, HAIRSPRAY) could have so perfectly created. Kinkiness, perversity and utter hilarity are the order of the day as Peggy and her 400-pound lesbian maid become killers and wind up in Mortville, a crazy fascist state populated by skid row bums and ruled by wicked Queen Carlotta (the immortal Edith Massey). Fairy-tales don’t get any more fractured or funny than this.

GAME OF DEATH | Wednesday June 7th & Tuesday June 13th | Buy Tickets
Fresh from SXSW comes a skull-smashing splatterfest about an evil board game that forces its teenage players to become serial killers. ‘Snakes and Ladders’ was never like this. GAME OF DEATH takes the trusty kill-or-be-killed premise to fabulously blood-soaked extremes. It all starts with seven young party animals chillaxing on a sunny afternoon. The mayhem starts as soon as someone says ‘hey, let’s play this goofy-looking retro board game I just found.’ Cue a swift descent into hell as the pals realise they have to kill a lot of people quick-smart or one by one their heads will explode. Orchestrating more than a simple cavalcade of highly entertaining violence, first-time feature directing duo Laurence ‘Baz’ Morais and Sébastien Landry pack in smart social commentary as these bratty millennials become more human – and inhuman – as the body count mounts.
MRS K | Saturday June 10th & Sunday June 11th | Buy Tickets
A wildly enjoyable Tarantino-esque martial arts thriller. Veteran Hong Kong action star Kara Wai returns in kick-ass form as a housewife taking on the underworld. MRS K sees veteran martial arts star Kara Wai (DRAGON) in her second come-back film with director Ho Yuhang (following AT THE END OF DAYBREAK), alongside a cast of Asian cinema legends. Wai plays Mrs K, a former underworld player turned wealthy domestic goddess. When a stranger blackmails Mrs K about her past misdeeds she quickly gets rid of him, hoping it’ll be the end of the matter. It’s not – more unsavoury characters from her past show up and kidnap her daughter. Mrs K is forced out of her sheltered existence to punch and fly kick her way to redemption. With stylish action sequences, a touching story of familial loyalty and a luminous performance by Kara Wai, MRS K is a thrilling, high-energy ride.

THE UNTAMED | Thursday June 8th, Friday June 9th & Saturday June 10th | Buy Tickets 
A creature of another world unleashes people’s base sexual impulses in this imaginative meld of social realism and erotic sci-fi which won the Venice Silver Lion for Best Director. Following on from his harrowing 2013 crime drama HELI, which won Best Director at Cannes, the talented Amat Escalante has changed tack completely in this unique, category-defying film. At its centre is young mother Alejandra, who is raising two boys with her boorish husband Angel. All is not well with this family, but the arrival of the mysterious Veronica brings promise of a solution to all their problems: in an isolated cabin there is something not of this world, something irresistible that’s able to provide both matchless pleasure and devastating pain. Filled with indelible images, and with Escalante brilliantly in control of every moment, THE UNTAMED is provocative and singular.

For more details visit the official site!