READ: Our Guide to Sydney Film Festival

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Words By: Guy Webster

This week the folks at Sydney Film Festival released the program for the 2019 season. With a mix of music bio-pics, sauntering space adventures and hour-long ads for tourism Australia, there’s tonnes to choose from this year. But don’t worry if you’re struggling to sort through the deluge of movies because we got you covered. Just choose whichever statement best describes you below for the best recommendations this side of the box office.

Bohemian Rhapsody was okay but I’m still terrified of Rami Malek to be honest - Give me music bio-pics or give me death:

We all know that music bio-pics are the only films we can expect in a post-Avengers wasteland; plus if Rami Malek didn’t have Bohemian Rhapsody he’d probably just be that one creepy dude on the quiet carriage. This year, Sydney Film Fest has amped up (music pun right there) the music-centred flicks and we’re keen for the associated Spotify playlists to come. For INXS fans there’s Richard Lowstein’s anticipated documentary, MYSTIFY Michael Hutchence. But out of all there is to offer we are most excited about Amazing Grace, a never-before released film that documents Aretha Franklin’s spine-tingling 1972 performance in a small Baptist church in LA. With heart-wrenching vocals and a full choir, this performance became her biggest-selling album and it’s destined to leave you tearfully pretending you can hit that one note (you can’t, stop trying).

My sleep paralysis demon is Lara Bingle saying ‘Where the bloody hell are ya?’ – Aussie Masterpieces

Australian cinema is a fickle beast that some love to hate. But we’ve come far since ‘You’re terrible, Muriel’, and it wouldn’t be the Sydney Film Festival without some national jewels to show the world just how epic Aussie film can be. If you loved The Babadook then you’ve got to catch Aussie Jennifer Kent’s new Nightingale. Or if you’re just in the mood to stare at Hugo Weaving for a bit (relatable) then catch the thrilling, and beautifully acted Hearts and Bones. But between the wry wit of a reunion in Palm Beach or the sexy gothic stylings of Jeffery Walker’s Lambs Of God, we recommend you catch Sophie Hyde’s Animals. This hilarious and brutally honest journey of two life-long friends who come face to face with the tensions, joys and sudden sadness of entering their thirties and the burdens of being friends for too (?) long.


Whether you’re a horror buff or a very literal zombie who’s just learned what the internet is (I welcome you, zombie friend) then you’ve got to catch Jim Jarmusch’s The Dead Don’t Die. Apart from having one of those names that sounds like a bourgeois tongue-twister, Jarmusch is a favourite staple of the indie / art-house cinema world. His new film, starring Adam Driver, Selena Gomez and our favourite Bill Murray, is an ode to the classic zombie flick. With equal parts blood, gore and bloody gore, it promises to have you laughing, cringing, and uttering a slightly pompous ‘Hmm’ of agreement. But literally, say Jim Jarmusch’s name ten-times over I dare you; and buy your tickets here:

I hate that one dude who brings up Citizen Kane all the time but god I want to do that at least once – Oldies but Goodies:

Every year Sydney Film Festival brings back some classics from a by-gone era when people didn’t know how disappointing Game Of Thrones would end up being. It was a simpler time, and there’s plenty black-and-white flicks to take you back into a nostalgic, but still damn brutal past. There’s expressionist horror in The Golem: How He Came into the World and existential horror in Eternity. But we recommend you fall head first into the memorial showings of Cleo From 5 to 7; a black and white 60s adventure that traces a day in the life of a vain movie star as she wanders through Paris waiting for the results from a doctor’s appointment. The director, Agnes Varda, left  us this year and you should feel bad if you don’t see it.