66th SFF 2019 Program and Indian films

Radhika Apte in ‘The Wedding Guest’ with Dev Patel running through India and Pakistan

May 8, 2019. The 66th Sydney Film Festival program was officially launched today by Sydney Film Festival Director Nashen Moodley.

“This year celebrates a resurgent year of Australian cinema, with an exceptional selection of contemporary Australian stories including 23 World Premieres,” said Sydney Film Festival Director Nashen Moodley. “From Mirrah Foulkes’ feminist revenge tale Judy & Punch, to Partho Sen-Gupta’s politically provocative drama Slam, to Ben Lawrence’s deeply moving Hearts and Bones starring Hugo Weaving, great Australian storytellers join globally renowned filmmakers to share crucial perspectives on our world.”

“This year’s program holds a mirror to titanic shifts culturally and politically, with films that will challenge and excite us. Shining a light on subjects that are often little explored or seen, these films are an invitation for us to collectively reflect on who we are, and what may lay ahead,” he said.

“The Festival also stands with talented women filmmakers, in an industry still struggling with equality. With the Europe! Voices of Women in Film strand, and retrospective programs celebrating pioneering women including our tribute to the late Agnès Varda, the Festival this year has signed the 5050×2020 pledge, committing to working towards gender parity and inclusion in film festivals,” he said.

Minister for the Arts Don Harwin said “Each year the Sydney Film Festival showcases the light and joy of our Australian film industry, with talent from new and established film makers, opening the wealth of cinematic potential that is in this country.  Whether you’re looking for home-grown talent, documentaries or stories that strike to the heart, the 66th Festival will take you there. I look forward to seeing Sydney’s cinemas bustling in June as we enjoy another year of this brilliant festival.”

In 2019 the Festival will present 307 films from over 55 countries including 33 World Premieres, bringing together hundreds of international and local stories. There are 112 feature films, including prize-winners from prestigious festivals around the world; and 79 documentaries tackling crucial contemporary issues, from established and upcoming documentarians.

Films from the Indian subcontinent at SFF 2019:

The Wedding Guest

Directed by Michael Winterbottom, 2018, 94 minutes, Unclassified 15+

Cast: Dev Patel, Radhika Apte

Dev Patel (LionSlumdog Millionaire) is a mysterious and compelling presence in Michael Winterbottom’s thrilling, modern film noir about a wedding guest with ulterior motives.

British man Jay (Patel) travels to Pakistan ostensibly to attend a wedding, but his multiple passports and proficiency with weapons suggest that he has something very different in mind. After a daring raid, he spirits away the bride-to-be, Samira (Radhika Apte, Sacred GamesLust Stories) and flees across the border to India. Winterbottom (The Killer Inside Me, SFF 2010; The Trip, SFF 2011; On the Road, SFF 2017), a prolific director with an astonishing range of films traversing countries and genres, proves himself an expert at thrillers too. He ratchets up the tension as the two characters play a potentially deadly game of deception with each other ”“ and their mutual attraction simmers.

Wed 5 June, 6:30pm, Event Cinemas George St 4

Fri 7 June, 6:30pm, The Ritz Cinema Randwick



Directed by Partho Sen-Gupta, 2018, Australia, France, 115 minutes, MA15+

Cast: Adam Bakri, Rachael Blake, Rebecca Breeds

A young Muslim activist and slam poet goes missing in this tense Sydney-set mystery with a sharp perspective on Islamophobia by Partho Sen-Gupta (Sunrise, SFF 2015).

Adam Bakri (Omar, SFF 2014) stars as Ricky, a Sydney café owner and Muslim refugee who is proudly assimilated into Australian culture. Ricky is estranged from his sister Ameena (Danielle Horvat), a hijab-wearing, politicised slam poet who is unafraid to air her views on Australian society. When Ameena disappears after a gig one night, Ricky is forced to revisit his internal conflicts over his own identity as he and his mother desperately search for her. When the right-wing media seizes on the story, speculating that Ameena has fled the country to join the Islamic State, the family suffers a barrage of scrutiny ”“ even as they fear it could be true. Rachael Blake (Lantana, SFF 2001; Sleeping Beauty, SFF 2011) is superb as the troubled police officer in charge of investigating the case.

Fri 14 June, 6:30pm, Dendy Opera Quays Cinema 3

Sun 16 June, 1:45pm, Hayden Orpheum Cremorne

Travelling Film Festival Newcastle, June 21 – 23: Tickets also available for Slam at TFF Newcastle.


The Sweet Requiem

“The Sweet Requiem” directed and produced by Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam of White Crane Films, Photo by: PABLO BARTHOLOMEW

Directed by Ritu Sarin, Tenzing Sonam 2018 India, USA 91 minutes Unclassified 15+

The impressive second narrative feature by Dharamshala-based doco team Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam (Dreaming Lhasa) is set among Tibetan exiles in Delhi. NETPAC Award, Kolkata.

The guiding Buddhist notion of impermanence plays a central role in the story of Dolkar, a young woman who embarked on a perilous trek to India with her father when she was a girl. Now firmly part of Delhi’s large Tibetan community, Dolkar is helping Gompar, a recent arrival fleeing Chinese security forces in Lhasa. Slowly, Dolkar recognises Gompar as the guide who abandoned her group on a treacherous Himalayan path all those years ago. But is this really him? Dolkar’s consuming memories of childhood trauma are artfully threaded into the suspenseful depiction of her desire for revenge. Sarin and Sonam have documented the Tibetan experience for more than 20 years. This is one of their finest films yet.

”˜Intensely personal and emphatically universal filmmaking.’ Justin Lowe, The Hollywood Reporter

Fri 14 June6:30pmDendy Opera Quays Cinema 3

Sun 16 June1:45pmHayden Orpheum Cremorne


Saturday Afternoon

Directed by Mostofa Sarwar Farooki 2019 Bangladesh, Germany

86 minutes, Unclassified 18+

Cast: Jahid Hassan, Parambrata Chatterjee, Eyad Hourani 

Banned in Bangladesh, this audacious film takes us vividly into the horror of a terrorist attack through one astonishing continuous shot, finding heroism in the face of terror.

A pioneer of the Bangladeshi New Wave, director Mostofa Sarwar Farooki (Television, SFF 2013) has, through his films, looked unflinchingly at his country and its people. Here he revisits the Holey Artisan Bakery attack of 2016 in which more than twenty hostages, from several countries, were killed by Islamist extremists. With virtuosic cinematography by Berlinale Silver Bear winner Aziz Zhambakiev, Saturday Afternoon takes us graphically into the attack on a Dhaka restaurant, with one impressive continuous shot. But Farooki is more interested here in the solidarity of the hostages: people of different backgrounds and religions who, in the face of abuse and violence, find a way to remain true to their fundamental beliefs, and try to save as many lives as they can.

Mon 10 June, 2:15pm,Dendy Opera Quays Cinema 1

Thu 13 June, 8:15pm,Dendy Opera Quays Cinema 1


Guests at SFF 2019 from the Indian subcontinent community at this year’s SFF:

Sydney-based French director Partho Sen-Gupta will attend the Festival as a guest to introduce Slam, a tense mystery set in Western Sydney tackling Islamophobia. Following the film’s screening will be Poetry Slam in the Hub (Saturday 15 June, 4:45pm), a thrilling slam poetry showcase featuring poets from across Sydney.

Bangladeshi director Mostofa Sarwar Farooki will attend the Festival as a guest to introduce the Australian Premiere of Saturday Afternoon, based on the Holy Artisan Bakery terrorist attack by Islamist extremists.

Also taking part in the jury for official Competition that awards the $60,000 cash Sydney Film Prize for audacious, cutting-edge and courageous cinema is Indian artist and filmmaker Ritu Sarin.

Ritu Sarin with Tenzig Sonam

The 2019 Official Competition jury comprises: Australian producer John Maynard (Jury President); Australian filmmaker Ana Kokkinos (Blessed, SFF 2019); actor and director from Brazil, Wagner Moura (Marighella, SFF 2019); from New Zealand, filmmaker Gaylene Preston (My Year with Helen, SFF 2017); and Indian artist and filmmaker Ritu Sarin (The Sweet Requiem, SFF 2019).

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