Too many unknown films, too many unfamiliar names, too much choice at too many cinemas.
It can be daunting working out what to see during the 12 packed days of Sydney Film Festival.
It's even harder when some of the most-anticipated films have sold out already. So with the 65th festival about to open, forget about catching Spike Lee's BlacKkKlansman, which attracted rave reviews at the Cannes Film Festival last month, or the controversial Australian political satire Terror Nullius, made by the New York based sisters who call themselves Soda_Jerk.
But there are still scores of other promising films as well as extra sessions added for some that sold out quickly.
Anyone who has been to the festival knows that often the best experiences come from discovering something unexpected, stumbling on a film you knew nothing about. And that could be from a small corner of the festival – First Nations: A Celebration, Flux: Art + Film or the always-strong Australian documentary program – as much as from the official competition for "audacious, cutting-edge and courageous" film or a Special Presentation at the State Theatre.
So what are the hot tickets?
The Breaker Upperers
Directors: Jackie van Beek and Madeleine Sami
Stars: Jackie van Beek, Madeleine Sami, Celia Pacquola
Buzz: Surprisingly, there are still tickets available for the opening night film, a comedy about two friends who making a living breaking up couples which was warmly reviewed at its world premiere at South by Southwest.
Director: Kore-eda Hirokazu (After Life, Nobody Knows)
Stars: Lily Franky, Sakura Ando, Mayu Matsuoka
Buzz: Acclaimed film about a poor Japanese family committing petty crimes to survive that won the top prize at Cannes this year.
Dont Worry, He Wont Get Far on Foot
Director: Gus Van Sant
Stars: Joaquin Phoenix, Rooney Mara, Jonah Hill
Buzz: A return to form for the director of Good Will Hunting and Milk about a charismatic wheelchair-bound cartoonist.
Director: Gustav Moller
Stars: Jakob Cedergren
Buzz: Pulsating thriller, centring on a former police officer working in an emergency call centre, that has won multiple festival prizes.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post
Director: Desiree Akhavan (Appropriate Behaviour)
Stars: Chloe Grace Moretz
Buzz: Touching coming-of-age drama about a high school girl who is sent to a gay conversion camp that won the top prize at Sundance.
Director: Gaspar Noe (Irreversible, Love)
Stars: Sofia Boutella, Romain Guillermic, Souheila Yacoub
Buzz: Sexually charged musical drama about a dance party that won Directors Fortnight at Cannes.
On Her Shoulders
Director: Alexandria Bombach (Frame By Frame)
Stars: Nadia Murad
Buzz: Sundance-prizewinning documentary about a 23-year-old woman who survived genocide and sexual slavery at the hands of ISIS to become the courageous voice of her people.
The Seen And Unseen
(Indonesia, Netherlands, Australia, Qatar)
Director: Kamila Andini
Stars: Ida Bagus Putu Radithya Mahijasena, Ni Kadek Thaly Titi Kasih
Buzz: Asked for a hidden gem in the program, festival director Nashen Moodley cited this dreamlike drama, about a Balinese girl dealing with the loss of her twin brother, as "an extraordinary visual and emotional journey", adding: "I predict that this will be a really special screening at the State Theatre."
Director: Kevin Kerslake
Stars: Joan Jett
Buzz: The life story of the charismatic founding member of the Runaways and frontwoman for Joan Jett & the Blackhearts.
Director: Benjamin Gilmour
Stars: Sam Smith, Sher Alam Miskeen Ustad
Buzz: World premiere of a gritty drama, about a former Australian soldier who wants to atone for killing a civilian in a raid, that was shot secretly in Afghanistan.
You Were Never Really Here
(US, UK, France)
Director: Lynne Ramsay (Ratcatcher,We Need to Talk About Kevin)
Stars: Joaquin Phoenix, Ekaterina Samsonov
Buzz: Thriller about a traumatised hitman that won both screenplay and acting awards at Cannes last year.
The Kindergarten Teacher
Director: Sara Colangelo (Little Accidents).
Stars: Maggie Gyllenhaal
Buzz: Sundance-prizewinning drama about a primary school teacher who believes one of her students is a child prodigy.
Woman At War
(France, Iceland, Ukraine)
Director: Benedikt Erlingsson (Of Horses and Men)
Stars: HalldóraGeirharðsdóttir, JóhannSigurðarson, DavíðÞórJónsson
Buzz: An Icelandic choir leader leads a secret life as a radical environmental activist in a feelgood film that won Critics Week at Cannes.
Cold Blooded: The Clutter Family Murders
Director: Joe Berlinger (Paradise Lost series, Metallica: Some Kind of Monster)
Stars: Clutter family
Buzz: Absorbing documentary series about the infamous murders chronicled by Truman Capote in In Cold Blood.
1 per cent
Director: Stephen McCallum
Stars: Matt Nable, Ryan Corr, Abbey Lee
Buzz: Edgy drama about an outlaw bikie gang as its hardcase president gets out of jail.
(Poland, UK, France)
Director: Pawel Pawlikowski (Ida)
Stars: Tomasz Kot, Joanna Kulig, Borys Szyc
Buzz: Variety called this intense long-term romance between two mismatched Polish musicians, which won the best director prize at Cannes, transfixing.
Director: Leigh Whannell (Saw)
Stars: Logan Marshall-Green, Rosco Campbell
Buzz: In the US, Rolling Stone called this sci-fi pic about a paralysed man who uses an implanted microchip to take revenge on his wifes murderers "a hi-fi, lowbrow gem".
(Israel, Germany, France, Switzerland)
Director: Samuel Maoz
Stars: Lior Ashkenazi, Sarah Adler, Yonatan Shiray
Buzz: The New York Times described this Venice-prizewinning drama, which opens with an Israeli couple being told their soldier son has been killed, "a devastating indictment of a nation".
Director: Lukas Dhont
Stars: Victor Polster, Arieh Worthalter, Katelijne Damen
Buzz: A teenage transgender girl trains to be a ballerina in a tender film that won no less than four prizes at Cannes including the Camera dOr for best first film.
Director: Kevin Macdonald (One Day in September, Touching the Void)
Stars: Whitney Houston, Bobbi Kristina Brown, Bobby Brown
Buzz: A candid portrait of the late singer from triumph to sad decline.
Sydney Film Festival runs from June 6 to 17.
Garry Maddox is a Senior Writer for The Sydney Morning Herald.
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