6 Flicks You Need to See at Sydney Film Festival

Sydney Film Festival is hands down one of my favourite cultural events to hit the city each year.

And it’s back this August, shaking off the Covid woes and getting us all back at the movies again. As always, the festival does a sneak peek at the lineup before releasing the roster in full, and by the looks of the first 21 films, you’ll need to grab ticket fast. Here’s the ones I’m psyched about from the first batch of releases.


I can’t stop yapping on about this film, so it better be good. Based on an infamous 2015 tweetstorm, this stripper saga stars Taylour Paige and Riley Keough on a two-day bender in Florida. If you’ve already read the Twitter thread from real-life stripper A’Ziah “Zola” King, you know that this story descends into utter chaos, and if you haven’t—you’re just going to have to get a ticket to see this at SFF.

The Kids

Who doesn’t love a good ‘where are they now’? 26 years since Larry Clark went and made one of the most referenced and formative cult classics of all time, Australian director Eddie Martin revisits the original cast of Kids. Referred to as ‘Lord of the Flies with skateboards, nitrous oxide and hip-hop,’ by the New York Times when it was released in the early 90s, Clark’s debut feature featured an entire cast of unknown actors—some who would go on to be household names, and others who never hit the big time. This should sell out fast, so get those tix quick.


This debut feature from Kosovo-born filmmaker Blerta Basholli absolutely cleaned up at Sundance 2021, wining three major awards (the first film to ever do so in the festival’s history). Hive is inspired by the real-life story of beekeeper Fahrije Hoti, whose husband went missing in the Kosovo War, leaving her to fend for herself and her two children in a patriarchal society. Determined, she bands the women together to try and establish a women’s co-operative and sell ajvar (pepper relish), but the men of the village aren’t having it. I’ll be grabbing a ticket to Hive to see her stick it to the man, and sell a shit ton of relish in the process.

Riders of Justice

Only the Danes can do a movie like this. Funny yet sad, serious yet self-deprecating, Riders of Justice follows the story of Markus (Mads Mikkelsen), a career soldier whose wife dies in a train ‘accident’. When the real truth of the event comes to Markus in the form of some socially awkward tech nerds, the group band together to wipe out the perpetrators. The problem? Well, there’s heaps, including Markus’ teenage daughter thinking her dad’s new friends are actually crisis counsellors helping her to connect with her emotionally stitched-up dad.

When a City Rises

An ‘urgent and illuminating documentary’ that tells the story of the Hong Kong pro-democracy protests through the eyes of four main characters: peaceful protestor (William), teenager (M.J.), law student (Eve) and ‘frontliner’ (Tan). All four are involved in HK’s leaderless movement fighting to maintain democracy in their island city. Eve handles the phones and provides legal advice, M.J. joins the throng but he’s fearful of arrest and what that will mean for his future, William struggles with the physical conflict and tries to keep to the sidelines. Tan faces tear gas and water cannons but struggles with family commitments. An incredible insight into what the people of Hong Kong struggled through daily as the whole world watched online.

Night Raiders

Sci-fi is usually not my cup of tea, but this tale of Indigenous resistance in a not-too-distant future looks very, very watchable. Directed by Danis Goulet and executive produced by Taika Waititi, Night Raiders is set in a future dystopia where all children have become property of the state and are forced to fight in wars for ever-draining resources. A mother and daughter live off-grid, but are forced to make dangerous decisions when one of them becomes sick and needs medical attention. Night Raiders is a timely reminder that ‘First Nations peoples around the world were all too familiar with the trappings of dystopia long before the genre became popular’.

See the full lineup and get your tickets now at Sydney Film Festival. 

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