Sydney Film Festival gets underway today. There are heaps of awesome movies to check out. We've already cast our eyes over a couple of the highlights:
Obviously we're interested in the music doccos that are on offer at this year's Sydney Film Festival. We're especially excited for Marley, and we were fascinated to watch Under African Skies, which sees Paul Simon return to South Africa to reunite with the musicians who collaborated on his mega-hit Graceland.
The album's 1986 release put Simon in the eye of a storm of controversy for breaking the UN cultural boycott of the South African Apartheid regime. Prize-winning filmmaker Joe Berlinger (Metallica: Some Kind of Monster and the Paradise Lost trilogy) follows Simon to South Africa for the album's 25th-anniversary celebrations, where he confronts his critics - including Artists United Against Apartheid founder Dali Tambo - and defends his appropriation of African music. Anyone who has an interest in Simon, in this seminal album, or in the politics of South Africa at the time, will be absolutely fascinated by this interesting and thought-provoking documentary. To be honest, it's worth watching just to see footage of the studio sessions. Awesome.
Coincidentally, yesterday we checked out another film based in South Africa (we were sitting next to Margaret and David in the screening - eeek). Beauty is a study of desire that won of the Queer Palm at Cannes. In it, South African director Oliver Hermanus focuses on Francois (Deon Lotz), a middle-aged, Afrikaans-speaking family man who becomes obsessed with the young son of longtime friends. As Francois stalks the young man, his world begins to unravel. Beauty is a gripping, tough watch. It's difficult to discuss the film's more difficult scenes without giving away plot-spoilers, but suffice to say its challenging, powerful content is typical of the kind of unrelenting cinema that Sydney Film Festival offers up as part of its extensive programme.
Under African Skies is playing Friday 8th June at 6.30pm and Sunday 10th June at 2.30pm at Event Cinemas, George Street, Sydney. Tickets are selling fast. You can see Beauty on Sunday 10th June at 8.30pm and Monday 11th June at 8.15pm at Event Cinemas, George Street, Sydney. Tickets here. For a full schedule of all the amazing stuff that Sydney Film Festival has got going on, visit: http://sff.org.au/public/home/