The Sydney Film Festival begins today, Wednesday, June 8, and runs through Sunday, June 19. Approximately 150 features will unspool during the event, which holds its 63rd edition this year. The following highlights a selection of the nearly 60 new and recent nonfiction features appearing in the festival:
Now in its eighth year, the Documentary Australia Foundation competition recognizes national nonfiction. The ten contenders this year include: Sascha Ettinger Epstein’s DESTINATION ARNOLD, a profile of two indigenous female bodybuilders; Andrew Wiseman’s ON RICHARD’S SIDE, the latest in the filmmaker’s 27-year-long chronicle of a disabled man’s life; Gillian Leahy’s BAXTER AND ME (pictured), a personal meditation on the filmmaker’s connection to dogs; Taryn Brumfitt’s EMBRACE, about the filmmaker, an outspoken body image activist; and Belinda Mason’s CONSTANCE ON THE EDGE, a ten-year look at the experiences of a Sudanese refugee in small town Australia.
Among the Australian feature documentaries that are making their world premiere out of competition are: Ian Darling, Jon Muir, and Suzan Muir’s SUZY & THE SIMPLE MAN, an intimate portrait of a rural couple and their sustainable farm; and Rohan Spong’s WINTER AT WESTBETH (pictured), about the senior residents of a NYC artist’s colony.
The fest’s programming team has included an impressive sampling of international and Australian documentaries that have appeared elsewhere on the circuit. Two titles that have not already been covered here are Robert Nugent’s NIGHT PARROT STORIES (pictured), an investigation into the stories surrounding a likely extinct bird; and Pierre Morath’s FREE TO RUN, an exploration of the history and popularization of running as a sport.