Sydney Film Festival 2012

· Tuesday May 8, 2012

An embarrassment of riches, every year the Sydney Film Festival program sits on your coffee table for weeks - until the fest is over - its girth too intimidating to peruse. Having done the hard yards of slogging through front cover to back, this is a present to you time poor film fans: our picks for this year's festival!

For funny stuff, there's Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom, a charming, impeccably stylish star-studded film set in 1965 about two 12-year-olds in love. Aubrey Plaza (from Parks and Rec) is her usual deadpan hilarious self in the cleverly premised Safety Not Guaranteed. “The Lebanese Pedro Almodovar” Nadine Labaki brings the colorful, vibrant comedy Where Do We Go Now? Susan Sarandon is the mum of Jeff Who Lives at Home (Jason Segel). Tim and Eric and other hipsters like James Murphy feature in the aptly-titled film, The Comedy. And cult icon Karen Black features in the horror comedy Some Guy Who Kills People.

On the dramatic side, Alps is an eerie film with an inventive plot by Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos. Alps and another feature L represent the burgeoning Greek 'Weird Wave' scene. Aussie director Cate Shortland's follow-up to the excellent Somersault is a morally complex, female coming-of-age story, Lore.  Once Upon A Time In Anatolia is a critically acclaimed, visually stunning Turkish film. And from pulp novelist James Ellroy comes Woody Harrelson as a ridiculous corrupt cop in Rampart.

In documentaries, Woody Allen's career gets thoroughly illuminated in Woody Allen: A Documentary. Searching for Sugar Man looks for the elusive '70s singer-songwriter Rodriguez. The British Guide To Showing Off chronicles 40 years of the Alternative Miss World Pageant, which features unconventional beauties like drag queens and club kids. A performance artist spends eight hours a day staring fans in the face, one by one, in Marina Abramovic: the Artist Is Present. But perhaps most intriguing is Despite The Gods, a doco on David Lynch's daughter, filmmaker Jennifer Lynch.

Beyond the above categories: a 3D samurai flick from sensationalist Japanese director Takashi Miike, Hara-Kiri: Death Of A Samurai; a retrospective of Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci; a series celebrating Japanese genre film of the '60s from the Nikkatsu studio (including 1967's A Colt is My Passport); and an incredibly strange, self-financed film from Japanese director Shunichiro Miki, The Warped Forest. You've been warned.