Sydney FF 2019: DARK PLACE – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Dark Place saves the best of its anthology of five horror shorts till last and excels with Kodie Bedford’s unforgettable, electrifying Scout. If every horror anthology contains one short you wish was a feature, this is it; despite being a newcomer to directing, Bedford directs action like an old-hand, and the way she combines familiar genre thrills with inescapable and at times explicit political agenda about the exploitation and abuse of Indigenous Australian women by white men is nothing less than masterful.

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SYDNEY FF 2019: ANIMALS – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Bursting into the national consciousness with her smash 2013 debut feature 52 Tuesdays, Australian filmmaker Sophie Hyde has gone decidedly international in her vision with her much-anticipated sophomore effort, the international co-production Animals. Starring Holliday Grainger and Alia Shawkat, the two women play best friends and flatmates Laura and Tyler whose down-and-dirty carefree bacchanalia of their twenties suddenly begins to fade when faced with expectations of transitioning to the world of so-called ‘adult’ responsibility.

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Sydney FF 2019: MY NUDITY MEANS NOTHING – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

For those still shaken by Marina de Van’s shocking, brave and wholly unique 2002 debut film In My Skin, that the French filmmaker, actor and writer has finally returned with a feature-length film is cause for unbridled celebration. Like In My Skin, although shifting from fictional filmmaking to a documentary format with My Nudity Means Nothing, in many ways these two works have much in common: both feature de Van as their central subject, and both hold at their core a fundamental, almost clinical, focus on the relationship between gender, identity and corporeality.

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Sydney FF 2019: A DOG CALLED MONEY – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Weaving together a range of different threads and textures in his revealing documentary about cult British rock icon PJ Harvey and her 2016 album The Hope Six Demolition Project, Irish filmmaker and photojournalist Seamus Murphy‘s A Dog Called Money crosses the globe with the musician to meet the people and places that inspired her.

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BIT – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

The moment Nicole Maines first hit the news through the landmark human rights decision in the Doe v. Clenchy anti-discrimination case in the Maine Supreme Judicial Court in 2013, there was a strong indication that she would succeed at whatever she put her mind to. The good news for those of us with a desperate hunger for fresh young talent in film and television is that what she’s put her mind to is acting.

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Sydney FF 2019: SCHOOL’S OUT – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

It would at first be far too easy to dismiss School’s Out as representative of generational anxieties about an increasingly vocal, empowered youth, whose voices around the world we see manifest on the daily news in everything from climate change protests to gun restriction rallies in the United States. But the film is far from this simplistic; rather, there is something much opaquer and consequently disturbing about the vision these young people have that the adults and even other students around them are simply not privy to.

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Sydney FF 2019: QUEEN OF HEARTS – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Women directors exploring romantic relationships between grown women and boys is hardly new. While unarguably a part of this tradition, Danish filmmaker May el-Toukhy’s Queen of Hearts is a gut-wrenching and ethically confronting film that hinges on a woman lawyer called Anne whose job is to fight for the rights for abused children and young people. As we discover, this profession lies in uneasy proximity to her status as a sexual predator who has seduced her teenage stepson

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Sydney FF’s ‘Essential Australian Women Directors’ Program – Alexandra Heller-Nicholas Reports

In recent years, the global rise of interest in women’s filmmaking and its broadly neglected histories has found shape in in Australia through a steady series of film festival events focused on the work of women directors including the Melbourne International Film Festival, the Queensland Film Festival, and smaller, more focused niche festivals such as the Melbourne Women in Film Festival. This year’s 2019 Sydney Film Festival (running from 5-16 June) reveals that this momentum shows no signs of slowing down.

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What’s Up Down Under? “Viva Varda” at Sydney Film Fest – Alexandra Heller-Nicholas Reports

Marking the legacy of influential French filmmaker Agnès Varda whose recent passing triggered a torrent of both deep grief and loving memorials from cinephiles across the globe, the upcoming Sydney Film Festival celebrates her unparalleled career with a near-exhaustive program of her most significant films.

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