Sydney Film Festival to feature zombies, Woody Allen and a Maori Boy Genius

The 59th Sydney Film Festival has announced its first round of films.

Festival director Nashen Moodley told Encore: “I think what we’ve presented so far is a good view of world cinema and brought together some of the best films from the best film festivals around the world.”

Twenty-two Australian premieres, 15 features and 10 documentaries are included in the 25 titles announced.

The program so far includes Benh Zeitlin’s Beasts of the Southern Wild, which won the grand jury prize at Sundance, the Woody Harrelson-starring Rampart directed by Oren Moverman and zombie film Harold’s Going Stiff by Keith Wright.

Also featuring is Woody Allen: A Documentary by Robert B Weide, New Zealand’s Maori Boy Genius and Side By Side, a documentary with Keanu Reeves as interviewer/narrator/co-producer about the change of cinema from celluloid to pixels.

Moodley, in his first year as director, said of the selection, said: “I think the festival has had an extraordinary level of programming so for me its not a huge shift in the philosophy and in the way of geographical diversity, new film-makers, masters of film-making but of course every director has their own taste.”

The 25 titles make up only about one-sixth of the full program, Moodley said, with two thirds of the program secured.

As yet there are no Australian titles announced but from the films Moodley had screened, he said: “We’ve seen lot of films already for selection and I’m impressed by the quality. I think it’s a good year from what I’ve’s seen and the horizon.”

The festival well again feature the Foxtel Australian Documentary Prize and the Dendy Awards for short films as well as the Official Competition prize of $60,000.

From the selection, Moodley said he was most excited by films Tabu, Beasts of the Southern Wild and Neighbouring Sounds. “These are films that will shock the audiences, I seldom have the opportunity but I look forward to watching some of them from the back of the hall.

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