Alex Russell and Aaron Pedersen in Ivan Sen's Goldstone.

When IF speaks to Sydney Film Festival director Nashen Moodley, he's at the tail-end of a whirlwind day in which Ivan Sen's Goldstone was unveiled as the festival's opening night film, to screen at Sydney's State Theatre on June 8. 

So what's the reaction been like?

"So far it's been very positive," Moodley said. 

"People are very eager to see Ivan Sen's new film. He's such a special filmmaker, and such a multi-talented one. He writes, directs, edits, composes the score, and has such an incredible body of work."

Moodley saw the film almost seven weeks ago, in early March, just after Sen had finished it.

"There was an opportunity to see an early cut, but we had enough time to see it when it was finished, so we waited."

"The film looks incredible, and he shot it himself while controlling all these other elements. It's a very complex and layered film. It's about politics and corporations and corruption and tradition and he manages to weave all of that into a very exciting film that plays out like a thriller."

Goldstone revisits Aaron Pedersen's character, detective Jay Swan, from Sen's last film, Mystery Road, which opened SFF in 2013.

Moodley points out that Goldstone might feature a character from the earlier film, but isn't a sequel to it.

"It's a completely different story. It's the continuing adventures of detective Jay Swan, and we meet him sometime after the events of Mystery Road. We know that things happened in between, but we don't know what they are exactly or how they happened." 

"In some ways it's similar – it has the same lead character and it's set in the Outback. But with Mystery Road I felt I wanted to see more of Jay Swan. And Goldstone delivers on that. It's a film that's perhaps broader in its scope, taking in all these [socio-political] elements that I just mentioned but somehow it's tighter."

Last year was a bumper festival for Aussie features, with The Daughter, Ruben Guthrie, Sherpa, Last Cab to Darwin, Women He's Undressed and Holding the Man all premiering within two weeks of each other.

This year's local line-up will be slimmer.

"We didn't have as many Australian feature films to see this year as we did last year. As a result we won't have as many in the festival. But last year was an incredible year."

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