In a late announcement made early this morning, the Sydney Film Festival added seven new titles to their 2017 program, all direct from the recently wrapped Cannes Film Festival. Palme d’Or winner The Square, from Swedish director Ruben Östlund of Force Majeure fame, joins Joshua and Benny Safdie’s Robert Pattinson-starrer Good Time and White God director Kornél Mundruczó’s Jupiter’s Moon in bringing Sydney’s Cannes Competition tally up to seven films in total. Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled, Bong Joon-ho’s Okja, Michael Haneke’s Happy End and Fatih Akin’s In The Fade were announced in May as part of the initial program.
The prolific Takashi Miike’s Blade of the Immortal (stunningly, his hundredth film) will also screen in Sydney straight from its Out of Competition berth at Cannes. Prix du Un Certain Regard prize winner A Man of Integrity, from persecuted Iranian director Mohammad Rasoulof, and animated Critic’s Week hit Tehran Taboo, the second Iran-set animation in the SFF program, will bolster the festival’s Iranian presence, joining two films by and a documentary about the late Abbas Kiarostami.
Perhaps the most interesting late addition is Zambian-born, Welsh-based director Rungano Nyoni’s I Am Not a Witch (pictured above), which debuted in the Director’s Fortnight sidebar at Cannes. The film follows a young girl’s exile from her village in Zambia over suspicions of meddling in the supernatural. Inspired by the director’s observations whilst travelling through Ghana, I Am Not a Witch promises a fusion of African and Western sounds and textures. It is also one of only two features in this year’s program from the African continent outside of South Africa, giving Sydney cinephiles a valuable glimpse into an underrepresented region (and from the rare perspective of a female director, no less).
While this small but not insignificant crop of additions might seem slightly lacklustre when pitted against 2016’s bumper late announcement—which included Park Chan-wook’s The Handmaiden, Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson, Maren Ade’s Toni Erdmann and Olivier Assayas’s Personal Shopper—festival goers should keep in mind the restrictively short time period between the Cannes and Sydney festivals (as well as this year’s slightly underwhelming Cannes Competition), and find some pleasure in the fact that they will have the opportunity to catch roughly a third of the Cannes Competition, including the newly-minted Palme d’Or winner, long before the rest of the country and indeed much of the world.
These late additions are, overall, an eclectic and sometimes surprising selection of films: Good Time, for example, is a film most presumed would make its Australian premiere at the Melbourne International Film Festival in August, considering that festival’s cozy relationship with the young directors. It is also the first time Sydney has secured the Palme d’Or winner straight from Cannes since 2014’s Winter Sleep.
The Sydney Film Festival runs from Wednesday June 7th through to June 19th, opening with Warwick Thornton’s documentary We Don’t Need A Map. A selection of ten films will vie for the Sydney Film Prize, worth over $60,000 and most recently awarded to Kleber Mendonça Filho’s Aquarius in 2016 and Miguel Gomes’ Arabian Nights trilogy in 2015.
Sydney Film Festival Cannes Late Announcement:
The Square (dir. Ruben Östlund)
I Am Not A Witch (dir. Rungano Nyoni)
Jupiter’s Moon (dir. Kornél Mundruczó)
Good Time (dir. Josh and Benny Safdie)
A Man of Integrity (dir. Mohammad Rasoulof)
Tehran Taboo (dir. Ali Soozandeh)
Blade of the Immortal (dir. Takashi Miike)