Our highlights of the 2024 Sydney Film Festival

Laugh, sing and cry your way through this year’s fantastic Sydney Film Festival line up.


Taking place between 5-16 June, the Sydney Film Festival will feature more than 200 screenings in its 71st year of passion and production. Filmmakers all across the city will be attending parties, red carpets and film previews in a celebration of the impact of arts and creativity. 

Discover our top picks for this year’s line-up and buy your tickets now!


Sydney Film Festival
Viet and Nam © Sydney Film Festival


Official competition 


The official Sydney Film Prize is awarded to “the most audacious, cutting edge and courageous” film featured in the official competition program. The $60,000 prize is awarded by a highly-qualified panel of judges made up of industry professionals.

All We Imagine as Light was the first Indian film to be included in the Cannes Competition for 30 years. Directed by Payal Kapadia, the film follows two women in Mumbai as they struggle in their quest for love. This beautiful reflection on passion, desire, and the ability to retain hope will have you thinking about your own connections, and the importance of being yourself. 

Set in 1970s WA, Kid Snow tells the story of a washed-up slugger with one final shot at the boxing title, and a single mother helping him get there. Australia’s distinctive landscape is brought to life as a lost form of entertainment is captured on the big screen, set against themes of romance, blood and redemption. 

Nam and Viet make a living in a coal mine in Vietnam, hiding their romantic and intimate relationship from the world. But while Nam wants nothing more than to leave for Europe, he must help his mother find the remains of his soldier father first. Shot on 16mm film, Viet and Nam is a heart wrenching and atmospheric film told with visual splendour and care. 


The Moogai © Causeway Films


First Nations Stories 


The First Nations Award is in its first year, and is the world’s largest cash prize for Indigenous filmmaking, sitting at $35,000. The award honours the contribution of Indigenous filmmakers to the international cinematic landscape, showcasing the best storytellers and stories.

In The Convert, Guy Pearce stars as Thomas Munro, a British preacher caught up in the Maori wars of the 1830s. This film is a detailed picture of Maori experiences in the early era of colonialism, filmed in stunning New Zealand locations. 

The first film told entirely in the Skolt Sami language, Je’Vida follows lida, a woman struggling to find acceptance due to her Sami heritage. Confronted by her past, she heads for Lapland to clear out the family home, possibly reclaiming her identity along the way

Based on a heart-pounding short of the same name, The Moogai represents the haunting history of the Stolen Generations as an evil spirit enters the home of a young Indigenous couple and their newborn baby. This nightmarish film is equal parts family drama, supernatural horror and a story of intergenerational trauma, told as the lives of this small family are torn apart by a terrifying creature. Director Jon Bell and the cast will be attending the screening in person!


The Bikeriders © 2024 Focus Features, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


Special presentations 


Alongside the festival competitions, the program also features several long-awaited movies on Australian screens for the first time, featuring guest appearances and exciting panels.

The Bikeriders is a highly-anticipated blockbuster starring Jodie Comer, Austin Butler and Tom Hardy in a gritty tale of the rise and reckoning of an iconic American motorcycle club. Inspired by Danny Lyon’s 1960s book of photographs capturing the club and its members, viewers will love the romance between Kathy and Benny, who struggle to stay together as Benny is pulled further into the world of riding. Plus, Austin Butler is set to appear in person for a Q&A after the screening!

After watching some of the darker films on this list, there’s always time for a light-hearted comedy starring Aubrey Plaza and produced by Australia’s own Margot Robbie. My Old Ass is a hilarious love story that centres around Elliott, who meets her future self while trying to figure out her complicated feelings for her friends and her crush, in an encounter that will change them both forever.

And, speak to renowned producer Camilla Mazzaferro after a screening of her latest project, Porcelain War. This moving documentary follows three Ukrainian artists, couple Slava and Anya and their friend Andrey, who train people from all backgrounds to defend themselves against the oncoming invasion. Mixed with Anya’s beautiful illustrations and music of Ukrainian band DakhaBrakha, this film captures the world of a culture under attack.



Events and talks 


Additionally, the festival will host several events and talks featuring film industry experts as they deconstruct the process of making a movie, and everything that comes after.

AI: Brave New World or Creative Graveyard? is a not-to-be-missed panel. Join some of the country’s top writers and academics as they discuss the implications of AI on the film industry. Will it revolutionise the future of filmmaking, or erode the importance of originality and creativity? The Australian Writer’s Guild tackles these vital questions head on.

Established in 2016, Screen Australia’s Gender Matters Task Force works towards gender equality in the film industry. Gender matters: looking back and looking forward, will see task force members Rosie Lourde, Nerida Moore and Lena Nahlous unpack the state of women’s rights in the screen industry, and ask what we can do to contribute to future progress. Plus, stick around afterwards and ask all your questions over a drink at the networking event.

At the Queer Cinema Celebration, queer film fans from all over the country are invited to a fabulous night of music and drinks, as well as an advanced screening of Problemists, starring Tilda Swinton and Julio Torres. Embrace this community of diverse storytellers as they represent their people on the big screen.

Finally, the Dendy Short Film Awards were first established in the 1970s, and have been running strong ever since. Discover the best short film-makers of the year, and watch their masterpieces in 4K quality.

Loved this guide to the 2024 Sydney Film Festival? To discover the best film festivals from all around the country, click here.


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