Last week marked the thirteenth edition of the Sydney World Film Festival, which took place once again at Palace Central, home to new release films, international and local art-house cinema. The official selection featured 34 wonderful independent films, carefully selected out of almost thirteen hundred submissions from all over the world. Jury members have cast their votes and chose the following films as this year's finest:
Best Narrative Feature Film: LADY OF THE CITY (IRAN) BY MARYAM BAHROLOLOOMI. “Shahrbanoo is a mother of three, who has been sentenced to life in prison for drug transferring. After 11 years, she is released from prison for a few days to attend her son's wedding. However, this temporary freedom confronts Shahrbanoo with another aspect of her and her family's lives before returning to prison…”
Best Narrative Short Film: MAMMA (NORWAY) BY ASLAK DANBOLT. “It’s Christmas Eve, and Synnøve is searching for her drug-addicted daughter Michelle in an almost desolated city. Mother and daughter in real life, Synnøve and Michelle play versions of themselves in a story that is very close to their own lives.”
Best Documentary Feature Film: EVERYONE WANTS TO BE THE NEXT WEISMANN (SPAIN) BY ALBERTO TRIANO. “Contemporary art collector and first to discover the great Richard Weismann, Martín Solo takes on the challenge of introducing the world to his unique vision of art by opening his private museum to the public. For this, Martín prepares a retrospective of his latest discovery: Mu Pan, a Taiwanese, Brooklyn based artist, whose fantastical works criticize and reflect the violence and brutality of society. Martín feels he failed with Richard Weismann but this time he is prepared to lay all of his cards on the table.”
Best Documentary Short Film: THE PSYCHLIST (NORWAY) BY MARTIN A. WALTHER. “When his daughter died under tragic events just 11 months old, the bicycle was Per's only rescue.”
Best Animated Film: POISE (PORTUGAL) BY LUÍS SOARES. “Synopsis: A sad and restrained man lying on the bed in his empty room. Hesitates, ponders hypotheses in a cycle without deciding, stuck. In exhaustion all anguish is equal. Another man is sitting at the window: he looks at him and to the street. Characters in broken situations. The key positions, the suspended sequences, are shown. The man almost decides - and they almost return, inside and out, to them and to the city, time and movement. Infinite dawn.”
Best Experimental Film: PHOSPHENES (AUSTRALIA) BY SOFIE MCCLURE. “Phosphenes: the colours you see when you close your eyes tightly or press them with your fingers. Inviting you to close your eyes, Phosphenes exposes the porous nature of the body’s boundaries, exploring how we come to ‘see’ our body through the eyes and touch of another. Using the eyes like hands, bodies loom too close to the camera, becoming subsumed by colour and disappearing into disjointedness.”
Best Music Video: DYNAMITE (FRANCE) BY JIM VIEILLE. “April 2020. Lêg always stays locked up at home, engrossed by screens that all broadcast the same image: a burning car. But is it the outside world that smoulders or Lêg himself?”
Best Australian Film: UPSODOWN (AUSTRALIA) BY NATHAN CEDDIA. “An omniscient narrator leads us through various surreal worlds exploring the disconnect between humanity and nature. We are reminded that all living things are connected and collectively shared, on this planet - our home. Through the power of sharing, we can promote hope and reconnect. All it takes is a bit of reflection.”
See you back next year!
The Sydney World Film Festival was launched in 2015 as an online film festival. The online environment and the technology that made it possible was critical to the success of myriad filmmakers whose works would probably never have been screened at conventional festivals. Having a film selected at the festival was about industry prestige since the format only allowed private screenings for an international jury. In 2018, this distinguished festival entered a new era with its first brick-and-mortar event. Free and open to the public for the first time, this allowed filmmakers to witness the impact of their films on a live audience.
Inspired by the grand screening rooms of the past and born of today’s interconnected world, SWFF has succeeded in finding its unique voice within the already bustling film festival scene in Australia's largest city. It attracts young independent filmmakers not only for its selection of films, but also for its networking opportunities.
The festival discovers, supports and develops new talent in filmmaking, providing a platform for emerging and established filmmakers from around the world. Recognising the important role independent films have in the history of filmmaking, storytelling, and culture, SWFF wants to help empower the next generation of artists. Sydney World Film Festival is an annual event showcasing independent films with an edge.