Four films now in the running for awards at Cannes, including two homegrown titles, and two Berlin award winners are among the 12 films in competition at the Sydney Film Festival (SFF).

Terrence Malick’s The Tree Of Life and Julia Leigh’s Sleeping Beauty are in competition in Cannes, while Jeff Nichols’ Take Shelter is in Critics Week and Ivan Sen’s Toomelah is in Un Certain Regard. Sleeping Beauty and Toomelah are Australian.

The Berlin winners are Joshua Marston’s The Forgiveness Of Blood, which won best screenplay for Marston and Andamion Murataj, and Asghar Farhadi’s A Separation which won the Golden Bear for best film and Silver Bears for the male and female acting ensembles.

Festival director Clare Stewart announced Sydney’s fourth competition line-up this morning — although it was known last month that Norwegian Wood, The Future and Attenberg were part of the line-up — and also revealed that Joe Wright’s third film, Hanna, will open the festival on June 8 and Mike Mills’ second film, Beginners, will close the event on June 19.

The other three films in competition are Fernando Leon De Aranoa’s Amador from Spain, Mohamed Diab’s Cairo 688 from Egypt and Alexander Zeldovich’s Target from Russia.

The winner will walk away with $65,200 (A$60,000), Australia’s biggest pot of film prize money.

Stewart has persuaded Zeldovich, Marston, Attenberg director Athina Rachel Tsangari and The Future director Miranda July to make the trip to Australia to walk the red carpet.

Chinese director Chen Kaige is president of this year’s jury — four additional jurors are yet to be named — and his new film Sacrifice is also in the program.

Other international directors in Sydney for the festival will include Jody Shapiro (How To Start Your Own Country) and Phil Rosenthal (Exporting Raymond).

Stewart has once again divided her program into strands to help audiences navigate the films. Shapiro’s film about “micro-nations” is in the “Take me on a journey” section, for example, while Rosenthal’s, which is about trying to make a Russian version of Everybody Loves Raymond, is in “Make me laugh”. There are also small programs of films about music, about the creative drive, about the environment and for families.

Also scheduled are two television series, This Is England ‘86 from the UK and Dreileben from Germany, retrospectives of the work of jailed Iranian filmmakers Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulof, and a collection of Hollywood melodramas from Douglas Sirk.

The 58th Sydney Film Festival has programmed 161 films from 42 countries, 75 of which are feature films. Twenty of the 29 Australian films in the program are finalists for the Foxtel Australian Documentary Prize or for Dendy Awards for short films.
In official competition
Amador, dir Fernando León de Aranoa (Spain)
Attenberg,dir Athina Rachel Tsangari (Greece)
Cairo 678, dir Mohamed Diab (Egypt)
The Forgiveness of Blood, dir Joshua Marston (US)
The Future, dir Miranda July (US, Germany)
Norwegian Wood, dir Tran Anh Hung (Japan)
A Separation, dir Asghar Farhadi (Iran)
Sleeping Beauty, dir Julia Leigh (Australia)
Take Shelter, dir Jeff Nichols (US)
Target, dir Alexander Zeldovich (Russia, Germany)
Toomelah, dir Ivan Sen (Australia)
The Tree of Life, dirTerrence Malick (US)

FOXTEL Australian Documentary Prize finalists:

Carnival Queen, dir Amy Gebhardt
A Common Purpose, dir Mitzi Goldman
Dancing with Dictators, dir Hugh Piper
The Hungry Tide, dir Tom Zubrycki
I’m Not Dead Yet, dir Janine Hosking
Life In Movement, dirs Bryan Mason, Sophie Hyde
My America, dir Peter Hegedus
Rollerboy, dirs Jayson Sutcliffe, Polly Watkins
Scarlet Road, dir Catherine Scott
Shut Up Little Man! An Audio Misadventure, dir Matthew Bate