Written by Chris Swan
May 10, 2023
Must See Films at the 2023 Sydney Film Festival
Sydney cinephiles rejoice! The program for the 2023 Sydney Film Festival has been announced and it’s jam-packed with incredible films from around the globe.
With a huge selection featuring titles from the world’s most prestigious film festivals, this year’s SFF program delivers a cavalcade of cinematic treasures to entice all type of moviegoer. Here are a few of our top picks from the festivals line-up. Tickets are on sale to the public today!
Sydney Film Festival will run in cinemas from June 7 – 18.
Check out the full program HERE
From the director of Barbara and Phoenix, Christian Petzold’s latest film AFIRE won the Grand Jury Prize at this year’s Berlin Film Festival. The film follows two friends who arrive at a small holiday house on the Baltic coast, hoping the trip will inspire their respective creative pursuits.
ANATOMY OF A FALL
Direct from the Cannes Film Festival, Wim Wenders’ portrait of the artist Anselm Kiefer is a mesmerising cinematic experience in 3D and a stunning exploration of Kiefer’s life, work and methodologyBook tickets
A suspenseful look at the lengths people will go to gain freedom, BEYOND UTOPIA follows various individuals as they attempt to flee North Korea, one of the most oppressive places on Earth. Gripping, visceral, and urgent, Winner of the Audience Award (US Documentary) at the Sundance Film Festival, Madeleine Gavin’s film embeds the viewer with these family members as they attempt their risky escape. The result is a singular, illuminating, and unforgettable experience.Book tickets
Writer-director Georgia Oakley’s debut feature BLUE JEAN measures the bitter impact of Margaret Thatcher’s anti-gay Section 28 ruling. Anchored by stunning performances from Rosy McEwen and Kerri Hayes, this poised and penetrating debut explores with intense sensitivity a period in British history the effects of which still resonate in countless lives today.Book tickets
Benjamin Millepied’s reimagining of Carmen tells the captivating story through an experimental dreamscape with original score and songs from Academy Award nominated composer Nicholas Britell, starring Oscar nominee Paul Mescal (Aftersun) and Melissa Barrera (Scream).
The film’s producers will be in attendance during the festival.
HOW TO BLOW UP A PIPELINE
Based on the controversial manifesto by Andrew Malm, HOW TO BLOW UP A PIPELINE is an incendiary thriller about a group of young environmental activists who execute a daring mission to sabotage an oil pipeline in Texas.Book tickets
IS THERE ANYBODY OUT THERE?
While navigating daily discrimination, a filmmaker who inhabits and loves her unusual body searches the world for another person like her, while exploring what it takes to love oneself fiercely despite the pervasiveness of ableism.Book tickets
LITTLE RICHARD: I AM EVERYTHING
Lisa Cortés’s Sundance opening night documentary LITTLE RICHARD: I AM EVERYTHING tells the story of the Black queer origins of rock n’ roll, exploding the whitewashed canon of American pop music to reveal the innovator – the originator – Richard Penniman aka. Little Richard.Book tickets
Palme d’Or winning director Kore-eda Hirokazu (Broker, Shoplifters) returns with MONSTER, the delicate and powerful story of duty, social conflict and secrets.
When her young son Minato starts to behave strangely, his mother feels that there is something wrong. Discovering that a teacher is responsible, she storms into the school demanding to know what’s going on. But as the story unfolds through the eyes of mother, teacher and child, the truth gradually emerges.
NAM JUNE PAIK: MOON IS THE OLDEST TV
Amanda Kim’s portrait of Korean video artist Nam June Paik charts his meteoric rise in the New York art scene and his Nostradamus-like vision of a future in which “everybody will have his own TV channel.”
Executive produced and narrated by Oscar nominee Steven Yuen (Minari, Nope), NAM JUNE PAIK: MOON IS THE OLDEST TV is a timely exploration of a revolutionary artist who was a pillar of the American avant-garde in the 20th century and arguably the most famous Korean artist in modern history.
ON THE ADAMANT
Winner of the top prize, the Golden Bear, at the Berlin Film Festival, ON THE ADAMANT follows patients and caregivers at a psychiatric centre with a unique floating structure in the middle of the Seine River in central Paris. Directed by award winning documentarian Nicolas Philibert (Etre et Avoir), the film is a compassionate and intelligent portrait of the Paris landmark.Book tickets
WINNER of the Best Actor prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, Wim Wenders’ Japan-set charmer is a deeply moving and poetic reflection on the beauty to be found in the everyday.Book tickets
Director and actress Rachel Ward (Beautiful Kate) is the last person you’d expect to join a farming revolution. Besieged by drought, bushfires and ecological despair, Rachel finds hope in the soil beneath her feet and begins a journey of discovery to regenerate the land on her farm, and herself.
RACHEL’S FARM is screening in 2 competitions in this year’s festival ( Best Australian Documentary & Sustainable Future Award) and director Rachel Ward and the filmmaking team will be in attendance.
Based on true events. An inspirational teacher (Eugenio Derbez, CODA) takes a radical approach when he arrives at a poor-performing school in Mexico, in this 2023 Sundance Audience award winner.Book tickets
RED, WHITE & BRASS
The latest feel-good comedy from executive producer Taika Waititi and the team behind Hunt for the Wilderpeople and The Breaker Upperers.
Maka, a Tongan superfan, will do whatever it takes to get tickets to the Tonga v France Rugby World Cup game – even if that means promising to deliver a brass band for the pre-match entertainment. Only problem is, the band doesn’t exist and Maka has four weeks to make one. Inspired by a true story!
The filmmaking team behind RED, WHITE & BRASS will be in attendance at the festival.
The world premiere of this Australian animated film will be fun for the whole family. With an exceptional voice cast including Jillian Nguyen, Sam Neill, Tim Minchin and Deborah Mailman, SCARYGIRL is a homegrown animation feature about a young girl, Arkie, who must leave the safety of her home to travel to a mysterious city of light to save her father from a powerful scientist, and prevent the destruction of her planet.
The filmmakers will be in attendance at this year’s festival.
Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, SCRAPPER, the debut feature from Charlotte Regan, follows 12-year-old Georgie who attempts to reconnect with her father (Harris Dickinson, Triangle of Sadness). Also starring newcomer Lola Campbell, SCRAPPER offers a fresh and inventive take on British working-class cinema.
The Japanese icon “Ultraman” is reborn in this brand-new feature film from Hideaki Anno (Neon Genesis Evangelion) and Shinji Higuchi (Shin Godzilla).
The continued appearance of giant unidentified life forms known as “S-Class Species (Kaiju)” has become commonplace in Japan, and conventional weapons have no effect on them. In the midst of a Kaiju threat, a silver giant appears from beyond Earth’s atmosphere. In the government report, it’s written – “Ultraman (tentative name), identity unknown”.
SMOKE SAUNA SISTERHOOD
The first documentary by an Estonian director to compete and win at Sundance. SMOKE SAUNA SISTERHOOD is a deeply moving, intimate and breathtaking approach to issues of trauma, healing, and community. In the darkness of a smoke sauna, women share their innermost secrets and intimate experiences, washing off the shame trapped in their bodies and regaining their strength through a sense of communion.
Director Anita Hints will be attending this year’s festival.
SUBJECT explores the life-altering experiences of sharing one’s life on screen through key participants of acclaimed documentaries The Staircase, Hoop Dreams, The Wolfpack, Capturing The Friedmans, and The Square. These documentary “stars” reveal the highs and lows of their experiences as well as the everyday realities of having their lives put under a microscope.Book tickets
THE CORRIDORS OF POWER
Directed by Oscar nominee Dror Moreh (The Gatekeepers, The Human Factor), THE CORRIDORS OF POWER is a riveting examination of United States foreign policy, of how American leaders have responded to reports of genocide, war crimes and mass atrocities over the past 40 years.
Featuring in-depth interviews with political heavyweights including Henry Kissinger, Hilary Clinton, Madeleine Albright and Condoleezza Rice, Moreh gives viewers the unique opportunity to see past the headlines to discover how political decisions are made, revealing how past mistakes can dictate our future.
THE ETERNAL MEMORY
Winner of the Grand Jury Prize (World Cinema – Documentary) at the Sundance Film Festival, THE ETERNAL MEMORY chronicles the lives of Augusto and Paulina, a prominent Chilean couple who navigate the challenges of Alzheimer’s disease. Oscar nominated Maite Alberdi (The Mole Agent) tells an uplifting yet heartbreaking love story that balances vibrant individual and collective remembrance with the longevity of an unbreakable human bond.Book tickets