The Sydney Film Festival (SFF) today named three of its 12 competition titles: Tran Anh Hung’s Norwegian Wood, Miranda July’s The Future and Athina Rachel Tsangari’s Attenberg.
The remainder will be revealed at the official launch on May 11, one month before the June 8 opening night.
The competition carries a $62,000 (A$60,000) first prize in recognition of “courageous, audacious and cutting-edge” filmmaking.
Greek film Attenberg has already earned a special jury award at the Thessaloniki Film Festival and the best actress award at Venice for Ariane Labed, who plays a young woman so isolated that she mimics the animal behaviour she sees in David Attenborough documentaries.
July won a slew of awards for her debut, Me And You And Everyone We Know; The Future, her follow-up, is about a couple and the cat which narrates the film.
Norwegian Wood, adapted from Haruki Murakami’s novel about a university student who falls in love with two young women simultaneously, has the visual lushness that featured in the director’s Vietnamese films The Scent Of Green Papaya and Cyclo. Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood has scored this latest film, which is regarded as Japanese.
”Attenberg and The Future, in terms of the performances and the approach to narrative, draw quite heavily on performance art,” SFF director Clare Stewart told ScreenDaily. “It is not new for other disciplines to filter into cinema but in both cases it is interesting and refreshing.”
Because of timing, Sydney draws a lot of films from Rotterdam, Berlin and particularly Sundance.
“The energy and inventiveness of their (Sundance’s) films play well to our audiences,” said Stewart, who invited Sundance director John Cooper to be a member of the jury last year.
Today she also revealed the names of about 20 other films that will be in the program alongside the three competition films — and four were Sundance award winners.
They are Tyrannosaur, which earned awards for British actor-turned-director Paddy Considine and the actors Peter Mullan and Olivia Colman; dramatic world cinema winner, Anne Sewitsky’s Happy, Happy from Norway; world cinema documentary winner Asif Kapadia’s Senna from the UK; and world cinema documentary directing winner, James Marsh’s Project Nim, also from the UK
The 58th SFF is Stewart’s fifth as director.