If you were not severely in awe of the amount of films at this years Sydney Film Festival than my hat goes off to you. I managed to squeeze in 8 all up, which was an abysmal 3% of the 250+ films on show over the week and a half of consistent screenings. But despite this each of my 8 films had a female director at the helm and mainly female characters in the centre of their stories. The films I chose also covered off a variety of genres including documentary, sci-Fi, drama, comedy, and I even managed to get an artsy psychological thriller in there.
Half the films I covered this year were a part of the European Film Promotion’s Voices of Women Program, which was also part of the festival last year. Having the opportunity to speak with the 4 directors of the films I covered was such brilliant and eye opening experience. Not only was it inspirational to speak through the vision and process, but also to explore how these European women are experiencing the gender inequality issues in their local industries. It was clear to me that the issue, though still present, wasn’t holding any of these women back from making challenging and interesting films exploring real issues. You can read more in my reviews HERE.
The festival itself did well in terms of its female director representation with 43% of the films directed or co-directed by a woman. The programmers and selection committee was made up of 27 females and 18 males and the festivals board was an even 50/50 gender split. It was clear in the cross section of volunteers present at screenings and even the diversity of audiences that the Sydney Film Festival has done much in the way of welcoming inclusivity, and I’m here for it.
Amongst the scandals of the festival was Jennifer Kent’s much anticipated follow up from The Babadook, Australian period horror film The Nightgale. With two sessions of audience walk outs the film certainly caused a stir dividing viewers with its graphic depictions of violence and sexual abuse. The festival didn’t appear phased however as another session is scheduled in the Back By Popular Demand program on June 19th.
Out of the films I saw my favourites would have to be Booksmart directed by Olivia Wilde, The Deposit directed by Ásthildur Kjartansdóttir, and Hail Satan? Directed by Penny Lane. Each had their own unique flavour and manage to entertain me in three very different ways. I was also thoroughly challenged by the content and themes of Ladyworld, directed by Amanda Kramer, and Animals directed by Sophie Hyde had my boyfriend and I discussing our varied opinions on the story the entire bus ride home.
The Sydney Film Festival is truly a highlight of my year and often results in the highest density of cinema visits for me annually. It provides a platform for stories that normally wouldn’t get wide spread release, especially some of the female directed projects showcased this year. It broadens your mind and I want to keep the conversation going. So…did you go to the Sydney Film Festival? What were some of your favourite films from the 2019 line up? Leave a comment below.