Documentary about beloved mum who went viral to screen at Sydney Film Festival


Now a documentary he has made that chronicles his mother’s final years, Everybody’s Oma, will have a world premiere at Sydney Film Festival next month. Described as an “uplifting film that charts the family’s playful, moving and hopeful journey in the public spotlight and behind the scenes”, it is competing in the $10,000 competition for best Australian documentary.

The festival’s director Nashen Moodley has revealed a strong line-up of Australian feature films and documentaries for the 69th festival, which runs from June 8 to 19.

“People were talking about what was going on in our little house in Forresters Beach on a global scale”: Jason Genderen takes his mother shopping at a supermarket he set up in his home.

“People were talking about what was going on in our little house in Forresters Beach on a global scale”: Jason Genderen takes his mother shopping at a supermarket he set up in his home.Credit:Sydney Film Festival

Returning to the traditional winter slot after the pandemic forced it to be delayed until November last year, the festival opens with the anthology film We Are Still Here, a celebration of Aboriginal, Maori and South Pacific Islander resilience from 10 mostly emerging directors.

In the festival’s official competition: Del Kathryn Barton’s Blaze, about a girl who witnesses a terrible crime.

In the festival’s official competition: Del Kathryn Barton’s Blaze, about a girl who witnesses a terrible crime.Credit:Sydney Film Festival

“We have international filmmakers returning,” Moodley says. “We have parties and activities. It feels like we’re getting closer to what the festival was pre-pandemic.”

In a departure from tradition, the closing night film has yet to be chosen but it seems unlikely that either of the country’s two big films at the Cannes Film Festival this month – Baz Luhrmann’s musical biopic Elvis or George Miller’s fantasy romance Three Thousand Years Of Longing – will fill the slot.

Artist and director Del Kathryn Barton at the Sydney Film Festival Program at Sydney Town Hall. Her film Blaze is screening in competition.

Artist and director Del Kathryn Barton at the Sydney Film Festival Program at Sydney Town Hall. Her film Blaze is screening in competition. Credit:Louise Kennerley

The $60,000 official competition for “audacious, cutting-edge and courageous” cinema includes two bold Australian films: Archibald Prize-winning artist Del Kathryn Barton’s Blaze, which is described as magical story about a 12-year-old girl who witnesses a shocking crime, and Goran Stolevski’s You Won’t Be Alone, a supernatural tale about a shape-shifting witch in a Macedonian village.

Also in the competition are the top prizewinner at the Berlin Film Festival (Carla Simon’s Spanish drama Alcarras), an Indonesia drama set in the tumultuous 1960s (Kamila Andini’s Before, Now & Then) and a tense Mexican thriller about a teenager’s search for his long-lost father (Lorenzo Vigas’ The Box).

Noomi Rapace stars as Bosilka in director Goran Stolevski’s You Won’t Be Alone, which is also in the festival’s competition.

Noomi Rapace stars as Bosilka in director Goran Stolevski’s You Won’t Be Alone, which is also in the festival’s competition.Credit:Sydney Film Festival

As well as a political thriller set in a small Turkish town (Emin Alper’s Burning Days), there is a documentary about a French couple who became daredevil vulcanologists (Sara Dosa’s Fire of Love) and a love story about an elderly Indigenous couple battling to retain their way of life in Bolivia (Alejandro Loayza Grisi’s Utama).

Promising Australian films screening elsewhere in the festival include Gracie Otto’s Seriously Red, a comedy about a woman who becomes a Dolly Parton impersonator; Craig Boreham’s Lonesome, about a country boy who discovers Sydney’s gay dating culture; and David Easteal’s The Plains, a docudrama set inside a car as a Melbourne lawyer drives home.

Fire of Love is a documentary about two vulcanologists that will screen at the festival.

Fire of Love is a documentary about two vulcanologists that will screen at the festival.Credit:Sydney Film Festival

Especially topical is Rowan Devereux’s Evicted: A Modern Romance, about four housemates trying to survive in the Sydney rental market.

The $10,000 documentary competition includes Maya Newell’s The Dreamlife of Georgie Stone, about a transgender teen, Luke Cornish’s Keep Stepping, which focuses on two Sydney street dancers, and Brodie Poole’s General Hercules, about a quirky mayoral election in Kalgoorlie.

Emma Thompson plays a woman who hires a sex worker in the comedy Good Luck To You, Leo Grande.

Emma Thompson plays a woman who hires a sex worker in the comedy Good Luck To You, Leo Grande.Credit:Sydney Film Festival

Moodley says it is a strong year for comedies at the festival, citing Cooper Raiff’s Cha Cha Real Smooth, about a college graduate played by the director who falls for an older mother played by Dakota Johnson, and Australian director Sophie Hyde’s Good Luck to You, Leo Grande, which has Emma Thompson as a retired widow who hires a young sex worker.

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Then there is Armagan Ballantyne’s absurdist Kiwi comedy Nude Tuesday, which has Damon Herriman and Jackie van Beek as a couple who try to save their marriage at a new-age retreat, and Craig Roberts’ The Phantom of the Open, with Mark Rylance as the worst golfer to ever play the British Open.

While there fewer big ticket Hollywood movies than when King Richard, Dune and Zola screened last year, Ralph Fiennes and Jessica Chastain star in John Michael McDonagh’s blackly comic The Forgiven, and Amy Schumer, Richard Jenkins and Steven Yeun feature in Stephen Karan’s family dramedy The Humans.

Find out the next TV, streaming series and movies to add to your must-sees. Get The Watchlist delivered every Thursday.

Email the writer at gmaddox@smh.com.au and follow him on Twitter at @gmaddox.


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