10 films to see at Sydney Film Festival, from Japanese crime dramas to New Zealand comedies

The program for this year’s Sydney Film Festival has landed. As usual, it’s so chunky ya can’t carve it. This year’s festival, which runs from June 6 to June 17, contains over 260 films in more than 160 languages.

There’s lots to go through, so we thought we’d make it easier for you. Below are ten of our picks for films to see, including what the  program has to say about them. For the complete program, head to the Sydney Film Festival website.

You Were Never Really Here

“Few filmmakers can get into the heads of troubled characters like Lynne Ramsay. In only her third feature since Ratcatcher (1999, SFF 2000), Ramsay brings us Joe (Joaquin Phoenix, superb), a hulking, heavily bearded blank whose mind flickers with snapshots of a horrific childhood and his traumatic military experiences. A hired gun for a private detective, Joe specialises in rescuing missing girls from sex traffickers.”


“Prison was tough enough for outlaw bikie Knuck – but that’s nothing compared to what’s waiting outside. A high-octane Aussie thriller starring Matt Nable, Ryan Corr and Abbey Lee. You can just about smell the grease and fumes in Stephen McCallum’s punchy debut feature.”

The Breaker Upperers

“In this side-splittingly funny film, New Zealand directors Jackie van Beek and Madeleine Sami star as best friends who run an unconventional business breaking up couples for cash…Executive produced by Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows, SFF 2014), The Breaker Upperers is a joyous, hilarious film.”


“Winner of the Venice Grand Jury Prize and eight Israeli Ophir Awards, Foxtrot is a thrillingly inventive, tragic and funny examination of Israeli military culture…Laced with irony and humour, and intellectually and viscerally powerful,Foxtrotis a meticulously crafted and beautifully acted film.”


“Oscar-winner (A Fantastic Woman, SFF 2017) Sebastián Lelio’s new film is about the love affair between two women (Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams) in an Orthodox Jewish community…With Disobedience, he has made a delicate, emotional and rewarding film.”

Hearts Beat Loud

“In this joyous, heart-warming indie comedy, one-time musician Frank (Nick Offerman, Parks and Recreation) forms an unlikely band with his daughter Sam (Kiersey Clemons, Dope, SFF 2015) before she leaves for college. Single dad Frank runs a struggling old-school record store in Red Hook, Brooklyn, which he’s about to lose, despite the support of his love interest landlord Leslie (Toni Collette).”


“Straight from the Cannes Competition, Spike Lee’s inventive, funny and angry BlacKkKlansman tells the remarkable true story of an African-American cop who successfully infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan.”


“The world premiere of Melbourne archivist and filmmaker Sari Braithwaite’s provocative documentary, stitched together entirely from film footage cut by Australian censors.”

The Blood of Wolves

“A rogue cop, a by-the-book rookie and a vicious turf war between rival yakuza are the ingredients of a super-stylish crime thriller set in 1980s Hiroshima…This crunching combo of heavy-duty action and high impact emotion is one of the most impressive Japanese crime films of recent times.”

The Ark of Disperata

“In a small Italian town aptly named Disperata, the desperate mayor finds purpose teaching literature to prison inmates, in this funny, inspirational film…. Director Winspeare, who hails from the southern Salento region in which the film is set, uses non-professional local actors to great effect in this wryly funny and ultimately hopeful film.”

For more information about the Sydney Film Festival, head to the official website