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Sydney Film Festival Preview

The 2011 Sydney Film Festival is upon us, and with 161 films, from 42 different countries, in 49 different languages, the festival once again promises to be a diverse and memorable experience for cinephiles.

The Australian premiere of the high octane thriller Hanna will open the Sydney Film Festival at the State Theatre on the 8th of June. Starring Saoirse Ronan, Cate Blanchett and Eric Bana, Hanna marks a departure for British director Joe Wright, who is better known for his period dramas Pride and Prejudice and Atonement. Cate Blanchett will attend the opening night.

Saoirse Ronan stars as the teenaged title character in Joe Wright's adventure thriller HANNA

12 movies are featured in the Official Competition, with local films and international releases duking it out for the top prize of $60,000. Among them is the erotic drama Sleeping Beauty, the directorial debut of novelist Julia Leigh which stars Emily Browning in a daring role; A Separation, the Asghar Farhadi directed drama which won the film and ensemble acting awards at the Berlin Film Festival; and the much awaited return of master filmmaker Terrence Malick, with his anticipated drama The Tree of Life starring Brad Pitt and Sean Penn, finally making its way to our screens.

Emily Browning and Rachael Blake in Julia Leigh's SLEEPING BEAUTY

Chen Kaige, one of China’s most influential directors whose Farewell My Concubine won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, will play the role of Jury President. His period film Sacrifice is also playing in the festival.

Also in competing are 10 local documentaries for the Foxtel Australian Documentary Prize, with a cash prize of $10,000. The 10 finalists shortlisted for the completion include the controversial Scarlet Road, which looks at the sex lives of people with disabilities; Dancing with Dictators, which focuses on the arrest and imprisonment of Australian newspaper publisher Ross Dunkley by the Burmese government; and I’m Not Dead Yet, where the life of influential and politically incorrect Australian country singer Chad Morgan is looked upon.


With so many films, categories have been created to help navigate the vast field of quality movies on offer:

FIRE ME UP fuels the flames of controversy and revs up the action, and features the likes of the acclaimed Japanese thriller 13 Assassins (director Takashi Miike) and Errol Morris latest documentary Tabloid.

13 ASSASSINS from Japanese movie maverick Takashi Miike

LOVE ME promises to pull at the heart strings and make you reach for the Kleenex with a new version of Jane Eyre starring Mia Wasikowska, and the Mel Gibson drama The Beaver.

MAKE ME LAUGH will do just that, with the fish-out-of-water documentary Exporting Raymond and the John C. Reilly led comedy Cedar Rapids, a couple examples of the fun on offer.

FREAK ME OUT offers plenty of scares and gore for the most devoted of horror buffs, and features the Norwegian creature feature The Troll Hunter and acclaimed splatter fest Tucker & Dale vs Evil.

Norwegian folklore explored in THE TROLL HUNTER

TAKE ME ON A JOURNEY will sweep you away with its selections, led by the western Meek’s Cutoff starring Michelle Williams.

PUSH ME TO THE EDGE will test your mettle, with films such as the Danish war documentary Armadillo and Sundance darling Martha Marcy May Marlene.

Also on hand are films for the whole family, headlined by the Sydney premiere of the animation sequel Kung Fu Panda 2, with actors Jack Black and Lucy Liu on hand to mark the occasion.

Closing the festival on the 19th of June is the whimsical drama Beginners from director Mike Mills, which stars Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer.

Christopher Plummer and Ewan McGregor in Mike Mills' BEGINNERS

Yet that is not all. With retrospectives, forums, and many, many more films, the 2011 Sydney Film Festival is the place to be for film lovers of all tastes. Check out their website and book your tickets now!

The 2011 Sydney Film Festival runs from 8-19th June,

to view the full programme click here