Sydney Film Festival marks 50th year



This year is the Sydney Film Festival's 50th year. It runs from June 6 until June 20, presenting a feast of short films, features and documentaries from all corners of the world. There are several which will be of special interest to Green Left Weekly readers.

Molly and Mobarak is an Australian documentary directed by Tom Zubryki, which follows one of 90 Afghan refugees who have moved to the NSW town of Young to work in the local abattoir. It is a welcome and valuable insight into the daily experiences of the thousands of refugees who live so precariously on temporary visas.

Another interesting feature is Oliver Stone's first documentary, Comandante, about Cuba's President Fidel Castro. It weaves the highlights of more than 30 hours of Stone's conversations with Castro and archival footage from the 1959 revolution and its aftermath.

The Spanish film Balseros traces a group of seven Cubans who were among the many who tried to get to the United States on home-made rafts in 1994. The film catches up with them some eight years later to find out how life is treating them in the "land of the free".

Wildness is an Australian documentary by Scott Millwood, which pays tribute to Olegas Truchanas and Peter Dombrovskis, two of Australia's greatest photographers, whose work is synonymous with campaigns to protect Tasmania's wilderness.

I'm Taraneh, 15, a film by Iranian director Rassul Sadr-Ameli, is about a young woman who works and studies hard, and is engaged to be married. When she becomes pregnant and her fiancee leaves the country for work, she is fiercely determined to keep her baby. The film offers a very frank and sincere look at the concerns of Iranian youth.

An Australian documentary, Becoming Julia, directed by Ruth Cullen, tells the story of Paul, a likeable bloke from Bathurst, who undergoes a gender transition in the course of the film.

Pure, a British film directed by Gillies MacKinnon, tells a story of working-class life with frank honesty. Paul, who has just turned 10, finds himself having to take complete responsibility for his mother, who is debilitated by drug-use.

A variety of subscription packages are available for the festival, and tickets can be purchased for individual films. The festival is taking place at the State Theatre, in Market Street, and at the Dendy Opera Quays at Circular Quay. Visit <> for more information.

From Green Left Weekly, June 4, 2003.
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