The 61st Sydney Film Festival announces five extra films, direct from Cannes Film Festival, to screen this 4-15 June.

The films are: Cannes Palme d’Or winner Winter Sleep, directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan; the Jury Prize winner Mommy, directed by Xavier Dolan (whose film Tom at the Farm will also screen at SFF 2014); the werewolf romance When Animals Dream, directed by Jonas Alexander Arby; the Ecumenical Jury Prize Winner Timbuktu, directed by Abderrahmane Sissako; and Special Jury Prize Winner The Salt of the Earth, directed by Juliano Ribeiro Salgado and Wim Wenders. In addition, as previously announced, SFF will screen the Studio Ghibli documentary, The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness, by award-winning director Mami Sunada.

“We are really pleased to announce these special screenings as part of the 2014 program,” said Festival Director Nashen Moodley. “These are some of the most interesting and important films from the recent Cannes Film Festival and we encourage audiences to add them to their SFF experience.”

Sydney Film Festival runs for 12 days from Wednesday 4 June and screens over 190 films across nine venues including the magnificent State Theatre. Over 100 filmmaker guests attend the Festival to take part in talks, panels and Q&As. For the most up-to-date information on screenings and guests visit

The 61st Sydney Film Festival runs 4-15 June 2014 and brings a packed program of screenings and special events to even more venues across Sydney. For tickets and full up-to-date program information please visit

Synopsis for these special screenings:

The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness
Meet the creative forces behind Studio Ghibli, the award-winning Japanese animation studio that is the focus of this absorbing documentary. Hayao Miyazaki, the director of such cinematic wonders as Princess Monokoke, Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle is the centre point. He’s working on his latest, and perhaps his last film, The Wind Rises. The studio where he storyboards the entire film, and his dedicated team painstakingly draw each frame by hand, is cluttered, homely and apparently lacking any new technologies. On the other side of Tokyo, his colleague Isao Takahata is working on his latest opus. Producer and co-founder Toshio Suzuki shuffles between the two, expertly managing their distinct approaches and longtime rivalry. Director Mami Sunada, winner of SFF’s 2012 Audience Award for Best Documentary with Death of a Japanese Salesman, has captured the timelessness of the process, the brilliance and skill, and Miyazaki’s perverse, playful humour. Prepare to be enchanted by the genius of Studio Ghibli. In 1988, the duo simultaneously released My Neighbour Totoro (Miyazaki) and Grave of the Fireflies (Takahata). Twenty-six years later, we’re pleased to be screening both titles, as well as Takahata’s latest, The Tale of The Princess Kaguya, direct from Cannes.

Screens Sunday 15 June, 12 noon, Event Cinemas 4.

Winner of the prestigious Jury Prize at the recent Cannes Film Festival, Xavier Dolan’s Mommy is a foul-mouthed emotional rollercoaster, filled with laughter, sadness and magnificent performances. It is set in a near-future Canada in which parents of children with behaviour problems, can, in situations of distress, put their children in the care of public hospitals. Here we meet Diane ‘Die’ Després, whose 15-year-old son, Steve, has just been ejected from a correctional facility for being out of control. Steve veers uncontrollably between immense sweetness and affection, and violent outbursts. An unlikely connection with a nervous neighbour, Kyla, somehow leads to a new sense of balance and hope for the trio, but the past continues to haunt the present. The prodigious and brilliant 25-year-old Dolan (this is his fifth film since 2009) took the unusual but very effective decision to shoot the film in a square format (aspect ratio 1:1), creating a sense of constraint and claustrophobia. He lightens this mood with moments of great joy and freedom. Dolan, who won the Sydney Film Prize in 2010 for Heartbeats, and whose Tom at the Farm also appears at SFF this year, confirms with Mommy that he is one of the most vital and fascinating filmmakers of our time.

Screens Tuesday 10 June, 9pm, Event Cinemas 4 and Sunday 15 June, 7:10pm, Dendy Opera Quays 2.

The Salt of the Earth
Direct from Un Certain Regard at Cannes 2014, where it won the Special Jury Prize, The Salt of the Earth is a cinematic journey through the life and work of renowned Brazilian artist Sebastião Salgado. Poetic, richly complex and deeply humane, Salgado’s photographs, including his Hieronymous Bosch-like images of the Brazilian gold mine Serra Pelada, are hauntingly unforgettable. Director Wim Wenders (Pina, Wings of Desire, Buena Vista Social Club) working alongside Salgado’s son, Juliano Ribeiro, tells the stories behind these spectacular photographs. Raised on his father’s cattle ranch in central Brazil, Sebastião left his homeland for a career in economics. In 1973 he picked up a camera and only a few years later embarked on a massive photographic project, eight years in the making, entitled Other Americas. His intention was never to solely produce beautiful images, but to raise the world’s awareness of social issues, a point amply illustrated in his Exodus series on the outcasts of the world, or his recent Genesis project on nature and humanity. We also hear of the experiences that broke Sebastião’s spirit and took him back to his childhood home, where he embarked on an awe-inspiring environmental project. Wenders cleverly projects Sebastiao’s images in such a way that we see and hear the photographer alongside his works. The award-winning director shares Sebastião’s eye for beauty, and accompanied by their compelling narration, the collaborators take us on exquisite journey.

Screens Saturday 14 June, 2:30pm, Event Cinemas 9, and Sunday 15 June, 6pm, Dendy Opera Quays 3.

Presented in Competition at Cannes, Abderrahmane Sissako’s magnificent Timbuktu is a searing and moving portrait of a village under siege by foreign religious fundamentalists. Just outside Timbuktu in Mali, jihadists have taken control, ruling with an iron fist. The people suffer under the regime, which is determined to ban everything including music, laughter, cigarettes and even soccer. Women are forced to wear gloves and each day the rules become more stringent, and the improvised courts issue tragic and absurd sentences. Kidane, his wife Satima and their daughter Toya live peacefully in the dunes outside town, but are dragged into the web of the fundamentalist occupants of their land. Sissako (Bamako, Waiting For Happiness), one of Africa’s most important filmmakers, tells this story based on true events through stunning images, a wry sense of humour and real emotion.

Screens Public Holiday Monday 9 June, 12:00pm and Sunday 15 June, 10am, both screenings Event Cinemas 4
When Animals Dream
A sensual coming-of-age werewolf romance set in a small Danish coastal town, When Animals Dream – arriving at SFF fresh from its premiere in Critics’ Week at Cannes – is reminiscent of contemporary horror classic Let the Right One In. Sixteen-year-old Marie lives with her father and wheelchair-bound mother who is perpetually drugged. Marie takes a job at the local fishery, where she receives a fair amount of attention – especially from the young men. As Marie becomes more interested in the opposite sex, her body begins to transform, and she questions her mother’s illness and a family history that is clearly being kept from her. Beautifully shot, and wonderfully performed by Sonia Suhl and Lars Mikkelsen (Mads’ older brother) in particular, When Animals Dream delicately combines deep emotion with tasteful gore.

Screens Saturday 14 June, 8:15pm, Dendy Opera Quays 3, and Sunday 15 June, 9:45pm, Dendy Opera Quays 2.

Winter Sleep
Winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes, Winter Sleep is the new film from Turkish master Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, SFF 2012; Three Monkeys, SFF 2009; Climates, SFF 2007). Inspired by several short stories by Anton Chekhov, Winter Sleep is set in Anatolia, in the stunning Cappadocia region where homes are carved into the volcanic rock. It is here that Aydin, a former actor, runs a small hotel with his young wife Nihal, with whom he has a stormy relationship, and his recently-divorced sister Necla. Aydin also owns several businesses and homes in the surrounding village. As winter arrives and the snow begins to fall, the guests leave and lingering resentments come to the surface in the hotel and beyond. Strikingly beautiful and with incisive dialogue, Winter Sleep is another giant step forward in Ceylan’s ongoing, illuminating exploration of the human condition.

Screens Saturday 14 June, 10:30am, Event Cinemas 4 and Sunday 15 June, 7:10pm, Event Cinemas 4.


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