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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What’s Up Down Under?: Melbourne IFF Screens Maya Deren Films to Live Score – Alexandra Heller-Nicholas reports

In a rare treat for Australian audiences, Thurston Moore – co-founder, guitarist and sometime-vocalist of legendary US rock band Sonic Youth – will be a guest of the 2019 Melbourne International FIlm Festival where, on 2 August, he will perform live his scores to four Maya Deren’s films, the haunting Meshes of the Afternoon, At Land (1944), Ritual in Transfigured Time (1946) and a new score for her famously unfinished short The Witch’s Cradle.

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What’s Up Down Under? Rachel Ward’s PALM BEACH Opens Sydney Film Fest – Alexandra Heller-Nicholas reports

Sydney Film Festival makes perfect sense as the location for the World Premiere of Rachel Ward’s Palm Beach, named for a well-known, picturesque suburb in Sydney’s Northern Beaches region. The film follows a group of old friends who reunite for a birthday party where festivities take a back-seat to more complex aspects of their interpersonal relationships, with repressed tensions and carefully kept secrets threatening to explode.

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BODY AT BRIGHTON ROCK – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Coming to Body at Brighton Rock with an awareness of Benjamin’s background in horror makes it an even more intriguing watch, as it is not so much a ‘horror’ film as such but rather a thriller that employs the iconography, codes and conventions of horror to paint a compelling portrait of its desperate protagonist’s psychological terrain.

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Australia’s 2019 Moro Spanish Film Festival – Alexandra Heller-Nicholas reports

As demonstrated by this carefully curated selection of eleven films, the future is bright for Spanish and Latin American women filmmakers and this program is a rare opportunity to see their work presented on the big screen in Australia.

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KNIFE+HEART – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Both vicious and joyful, nostalgic and distinctly contemporary, Knife+Heart is above all else unapologetic in the multiple excesses that mark this defiant project of queer genre filmmaking. Vanessa Paradis has for decades demonstrated time and time again an impressive range in her craft, but it is most recently in Yann Gonzalez’s slick neo-giallo Knife+Heart that her unparalleled screen presence has been most effectively utilized.

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Defining Feminist Film Criticism – Alexandra Heller-Nicholas comments

I’ve learned in that time that ‘feminism’ means different things to different people and that this diversity is important. I like ‘feminisms’ plural because it allows different positions to co-exist and be debated and so I don’t sound like I am shouting anyone down I tend to describe my work as ‘interested in gender politics’ rather than feminist because the latter can be read in so many different ways. In short, therefore, feminism is the belief that gender difference relates to power in a way that predominantly favors men, and marks a desire to interrogate that with a focus on change.

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