Most Anticipated: Sydney Film Festival 2011

Sydney Film Festival - 8 Bloody Revolutions

Sydney Film Festival 2011 Campaign Poster 3The Sydney Film Festival is upon us this week, kicking off with the opening night salvo of Hanna. Now in its 58th year, the Sydney Film Festival is undoubtedly the event on the Sydney film scene, and the official competition this year has got some incredibly strong names attached to it, including Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life, Julia Leigh’s controversial Sleeping Beauty and Ivan Sen’s Toomelah. With 45 movies being watched between the two of us, which will be covered extensively in our daily diaries right here on The Reel Bits, we thought we’d let you in on which of 30-odd films a-piece that we are most keen on seeing.

It was difficult to know where to stop with this year’s festival program, as it seems to have been designed to appeal to a much wider audience. Quite a number of films have already got Australian distributors and might simply provide audiences with a chance to see the film early. Of the 30 films I’ve selected at this year’s Festival, the ones below best represent the neurons firing inside my bearded skull and what I absolutely can’t live without seeing this June.

Meek’s Cutoff – Kelly Reichardt’s follow-up to Wendy and Lucy. Apart from reuniting with her Wendy and Lucy star Michelle Williams, this (along with last year’s True Grit) gives us the hope that the Western will finally be returned some of the legitimacy it has lost as an art form over the last few decades.

The Future – Miranda July has not been seen in these parts since 2005’s Me and You and Everyone We Know, and the artist/filmmaker is bound to have something interesting for us this time out, especially if the recent trailer (narrated by a cat with a busted paw) is anything to go by.

Meek's Cutoff

13 Assassins – The chance to see Takashi Miike doing a chanbara flick on the big screen is not one to pass up easily, in this reworking of the 1960s film of the same name. With a career that has been filled with the excesses of Audition and Ichi the Killer through to his ‘Spy Kids for older kids’ takes on Yatterman, Miike is due for an epic bit of swordplay, and we can’t wait.

The Tree of Life – Could we really miss out on this one? Terrence Malick has only made 5 features in almost forty years, although he is getting faster. Winner of the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, the metaphysical epic with Brad Pitt and Sean Penn, the film has divided critics and we can’t wait to see it and make our own minds up about the latest work of what might be the world’s most enigmatic director.

Martha Marcy May Marlene – This one comes with a fair bit of buzz about it, and it may be the only film with an Olsen sister worth watching this year. Sean Durkin’s debut feature stars ‘forgotten Olsen’ Elizabeth, and John Hawkes, who excelled in last year’s Winter’s Bone. Cinematography is from Jody Lee Lipes, who also did the fascinating-looking Tiny Furniture, due to screen at the Melbourne International Film Festival next month.

Honourable mentions:

Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil, Sleeping Beauty, Hobo with a Shotgun and Norwegian Wood. No festival would be complete without some splatter gore, highly sexualised and controversial art pieces and an adaptation of a Japanese surrealist novelist, right?

Must See
It’s The Tree of Life really, but our love of Westerns shoots Meek’s Cutoff straight to the top of the list.


Martha Marcy May Marlene

The Sydney Film Festival runs from 8 – 19 June 2011 at various venues across the Sydney CBD. For the full program, please visit their website. Tickets are now on sale.