Full guest line up for Sydney Film Festival 2014

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Direct from its world-premiere screening at the Cannes Film Festival, SFF and Vivid Ideas are proud to present the Australian Premiere of the highly anticipated futuristic thriller The Rover and host  director David Michôd, actors Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson and producer Liz Watts at the State Theatre on Saturday 7 June. The Rover screens as part of SFF’s Official Competition. Michôd, Pearce, Pattinson and Watts will also give a talk as part of Vivid Ideas at Town Hall on Sunday 8 June.

Actor Cate Blanchett will attend the Festival to introduce a special screening of DreamWorks Animation’s How to Train Your Dragon 2 the second chapter of the epic trilogy in which Blanchett is the voice of the character Valka. The screening is held at 2pm on Public Holiday Monday, 9 June, at Event Cinemas George Street.

UK visual artists and film directors Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard introduce SFF’s Opening Night Film, the Australian Premiere of 20,000 Days on Earth, on Wednesday 4 June at the State Theatre. The film, a highly stylised imagination of a day in the life of musician and author Nick Cave is also in SFF’s Official Competition. Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard have worked together as artists since the mid-1990s. Performance and music play significant roles in their work, including a sound installation with Scott Walker at Sydney Opera House and their ongoing collaboration with Cave. 20,000 Days on Earth is their debut feature.

Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard will also join Academy Award® winning director Ross Kauffman for a special industry workshop day presented in partnership with Screen Australia called Think Big at the Festival, on Friday 6 June at the Festival Hub, Lower Town Hall.

New Zealand director Taika Waititi and actor Jonathan Brugh introduce the SFF Closing Night FilmWhat We Do in the Shadows on Sunday 15 June at the State Theatre. This vampire mockumentary is Waititi’s third feature film (after Eagle vs Shark and Boy, SFF 2010), and the first in collaboration with his longtime comedy mate Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords). Waititi became an international name in 2005 when his short film, Two Cars, One Night, was nominated for an Oscar.

Director Fred Schepisi takes part in the annual Ian McPherson Memorial Lecture on Monday 9 June at Event Cinemas George Street, following the Australian Premiere of his new feature Words and Pictures, starring Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche. ABC-TV’s David Stratton will bring his consummate interviewing skills to host a special discussion with Schepisi, one of the most respected directors in the international film and television industry. Schepisi’s first feature film, The Devil’s Playground (1976) won six AFI Awards. Two years later, the success of his second film, The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith, took him to the USA, where he directed Barbarosa (1982), Iceman (1984), Plenty (1985) and Roxanne (1987). He returned to Australia to write and direct Evil Angels (1988), based on John Bryson’s book about the infamous Azaria Chamberlain case. His other films include The Russia House (1990), Six Degrees of Separation (1993) and The Eye of the Storm (2011).


Official Competition Guests

Black Coal, Thin Ice writer and director Diao Yinan (China) is a leading figure in China’s avant-garde theatre, and has also written numerous screenplays. He is attending SFF for his third feature film Black Coal, This Ice, which won the Golden Bear at the Berlinale 2014. He graduated with a degree in literature and screenwriting from the Central Academy of Drama in Beijing. His screenplays for other directors include: Spicy Love Soup, Shower, All the Way and Eternal Moment. As an actor, he starred in Yu Likwai’s independent feature All Tomorrow’s Parties, which premiered in Un Certain Regard at the Cannes Film Festival in 2003. He wrote and directed his debut feature Uniform in 2003; the film went on to win the Dragons & Tigers Award at the Vancouver International Film Festival and was released in several countries. He wrote and directed his second feature, Night Train in 2007; it premiered in Un Certain Regard the same year, winning critical acclaim for its minimalist style and securing distribution throughout Europe.

Boyhood actor Ellar Coltrane (USA) and producer Cathleen Sutherland (USA) will attend the Australian premiere and take part in a Meet the Filmmakers talk at the Apple Store Sydney on Saturday 7 June. Coltrane was born and raised in Austin, Texas. Unconventionally schooled through most of his childhood, he was allowed to learn through experience and develop a deep interest in art of all kinds. He stumbled into acting at a young age, and after a few small roles in independent films and commercials, was cast in Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, which was filmed over a 12-year period. Sutherland is also a native Austinite, and holds a BS in Radio-Television-Film from the University of Texas. Having been exposed to film production at an impressionable age – while visiting the set of her aunt’s production of The Whole Shootin’ Match, appearing as a fish-chomped kid camper in Piranha, and securing her first PA job at 16 on Mongrel – her roots are firmly planted in the early days of independent filmmaking in Texas. 

Australian Director Kasimir Burgess will attend the World Premiere of his first feature, Fell, and take part in a Meet the Filmmakers talk at the Apple Store with actor Matt Nable on Saturday 14 June. Burgess studied at the Victorian College of the Arts. His award-winning shorts include Lily, winner of the Crystal Bear at the 2011 Berlinale. Also attending are Fell producers John Maynard and Mary Minas and writer Natasha Pincus.

Fish & Cat director Shahram Mokri (Iran) will introduce the Australian premiere of his film at the State Theatre on Thursday 12 June. Born in 1978 in Marand, Iran, Mokri is a graduate of cinema from Tehran’s Soureh College. He has been making short films since 2000 and he has also edited eight TV dramas, two TV series and more than 20 short and documentary films. His short films brought him national and international recognition and AshkanThe Charmed Ring and Other Stories, his debut feature film, had its international premiere at Busan in 2009. His second feature, Fish & Cat, premiered at Venice in 2013. 

Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter director David Zellner (USA) is an Austin-based filmmaker who has directed, written and produced a number of award-winning shorts and two feature films, Goliath and Kid-THING, which have screened at international festivals including Sundance and the Berlinale. David will introduce the Australian Premiere of Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter at the State Theatre on Monday 9 June.

Lockeproducer Guy Heeley (UK) worked as an assistant director on over 30 films before forming Shoebox Films with director Joe Wright and producer Paul Webster in 2011. His credits include the BBC series True Love, which was written and directed by Dominic Savage; and Hummingbird, written and directed by Steven Knight, which was released in the UK in 2013. Heeley’s credits as first assistant director include The Iron Lady, starring Meryl Streep; My Week With Marilyn, with Michelle Williams and Kenneth Branagh; Joe Wright’s Pride And Prejudice, and Wright’s Hanna (SFF 2011), with Saoirse Ronan, Cate Blanchett and Eric Bana. In addition, Heeley’s credits include Brighton Rock, Cemetery Junction, It’s a Wonderful Afterlife, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, Sleuth, Miss Potter, Love + Hate, Bend It Like Beckham, The Warrior and Hilary and Jackie.

Ruin co-directors Amiel Courtin-Wilson and Michael Cody will introduce their Australian Premiere screening on Tuesday 10 June at the State Theatre. Amiel Courtin-Wilson (SFF 2012 Official Competition jury member) is an Australian writer, director and producer. At 19 his feature-length film debut Chasing Buddha (2000) won best Australian documentary at SFF. His narrative-feature debut Hail (SFF 2011) premiered at Venice and won international attention. Michael Cody is a graduate of UTS. He produced Hail (SFF 2011). Ruin is his feature debut as director. Also attending this screening are Cambodian cast members Malen Sang and Mony Ros. Mony Ros featured in the Australian feature Wish You Were Here, which premiered on opening night at Sundance in 2011. He has also recently received accolades as a drummer and dancer in theatre productions across the country. Sang Malen is an actress, circus performer, acrobat, gymnast, and choreographer. Malen’s circus performing has taken her around Southeast Asia including international tours to Laos in 2012.


Official Competition Jury President and Full Jury:

The 2014 Jury President Rachel Perkins (Australia) is also the director of Black Panther Woman, competing for SFF’s Documentary Australia Foundation Award. Rachel’s filmmaking work spans documentary, TV drama series, telemovies and feature films. She recently directed the multiple-award-winning series Redfern Now as well as the telemovie Mabo which premiered at SFF 2012. Her feature-directorial work includes the musical hit Bran Nue Dae, One Night the Moon and Radiance (SFF 1998), which screened at Berlin, Sundance and many other international festivals. In 2009 she completed the landmark documentary series First Australians. Other documentary work includes the series Blood Brothers and From Spirit to Spirit. She is currently engaged in the development of multiple TV drama and factual projects through her production company Blackfella Films, one of Australia’s leading content creators, which she co-founded in 1992. Rachel lives between Sydney and Alice Springs, the traditional lands of her people, the Arrernte Nation.

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