Wondering which flicks to see at this year’s Sydney film-reviews Festival? We take the guess work out of the equation… Check out LOTL’s highlights…


The Kids are All Right

Director: Lisa Cholodenko

Starring: Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo.

The closing night flick of this year’s festival, The Kids Are All Right is acclaimed film-reviewsmaker Lisa Cholodenko’s (High Art, Laurel Canyon) take on life in the modern lesbian family.

Nic and Jules (Annette Bening and Julianne Moore) are two mothers who share a cosy suburban bungalow with their respective teenage children, Joni and Laser (Mia Wasikowska and Josh Hutcherson). As Joni prepares to leave for college, her younger brother presses her for a big favour. He wants Joni, now 18, to help him find their biological father. Against her better judgment, Joni honors her brother’s request and manages to make contact with “bio-dad” Paul (Mark Ruffalo), an easy-going restauranteur. As Paul comes into the lives of this straight-shooting family, an unexpected new chapter begins for the group as family ties are defined, re-defined, and then re-re-defined.

Combining comedic surprise with poignant emotional truth, The Kids Are All Right is infectiously funny and touching.


Beautiful Darling

Writer/Director: James Rasin

Voice work: Chloe Sevigney

Paying tribute to the short but influential life of an extraordinary person — the actress Candy Darling, Beautiful Darling reveals the story of one of Warhol’s most famous muses. Born James Slattery in a Long Island suburb in 1944, James found himself drawn to the feminine from an early age. By the mid-Sixties James had become Candy, a gorgeous, blonde actress and well-known downtown New York figure. Candy's career took her through the raucous and revolutionary Off-off-Broadway theatre scene and into Andy Warhol's legendary Factory.

It's a story of wild, creative times and of audacious people, but one that has a theme inspiring for anyone, anywhere: whatever the obstacles, be true to yourself. The film-reviews uses both current and vintage interviews, excerpts from Candy's own diaries and letters, as well as vintage footage of Candy and friends.  Outstanding indie actress and recent golden globe winner Chloe Sevigney voices Candy.




Director: Emma Crimmings

Producer: Polly Staniford, Tony Ayres, Michael McMahon

This Aussie produced doco is in competition for the Foxtel documentary award and tells the story of ‘Tom’. From an early age Tom didn’t match his Chinese mother’s expectations of a good daughter. As a teenager, he started taking male hormones, and began writing as a way of escaping the trauma of transition and exploring identity. His wild imaginings, such as Godzilla rampaging through the streets of Melbourne suburbia, resulted in an award-winning book of stories.



Howl is a genre-expanding feature-length exploration of the courtroom drama of the obscenity trial over Allen Ginsberg’s poem, as well as an animated re-imagining of the poem.

While not a standard issue biopic, Howl ably traverses some of the key points in the poet's life–namely the 1957 obscenity trial surrounding his most famous work. Zigzagging through time, the film-reviews is essentially narrated by Ginsberg himself through recreations of interviews, court transcripts, and most notably his powerful reading of Howl.



Director: Nicolo Donato

Staring: Thure Lindhardt, David Dencik, Nicolas Bro

Blond and privileged Lars leaves the army under a cloud, accused of making a drunken pass at another soldier – a charge he denies. He returns to the family home, angry at the loss of his career, tired about questions about his future. At a party, he impresses the leader of the local neo-Nazi group and although Lars doesn’t agree with the group’s violent bran of racism and homophobia, he is drawn by their camaraderie.

Nazi skinhead Jimmy isn’t so impressed and he’s distinctly unwelcoming when Lars moves into the guesthouse he’s renovating, but a sensual late night swims turns their relationship around.

As is made evident in the film-reviews’s brutal opening scene, if their passion is discovered their lives will be in danger. An intense drama with compelling performances from leads Lindhardt and Dencik; their tenderness and sexual desire is convincing, and their insecurity equally so.


To Die Like a Man

 Director: Joao Pedro Rodrigues

Starring: Alexander David, Frenando Santos

Resolutely queer and avant-garde, Joao Pedro Rodrogues’ strange and deeply affecting film-reviews traces the life and death of Tonia (Santos), a middle-aged transsexual star of a Lisbon nightclub who is permanently in pursuit of youthfulness. Hysterically obsessed with both her disaffected younger boyfriend and her white Scottie dog, haunted by the reappearance of her psychotic soldier son, and challenged by the rising talent at the club, Tonia’s troubles escalate when her body begins to reject the surgical and hormonal transformations that have determined her beauty and success.

Oscillating between the bleak, everydayness of city life and an exotic, magical country retreat Rodrigues’ camp composition and film-reviewsic experimentation directly descends form the cinema of Andy Warhol and Pedro Almodovar.



Director: Javier Fuentes-León

Cast: Miguel – Cristian Mercado (Bolivia), Santiago – Manolo Cardona (Colombia), Mariela – Tatiana Astengo (Peru)

Miguel is a handsome, young and beloved fisherman in Cabo Blanco, a small fishing village in the Northern coast of Per, where the community has deep-rooted religious traditions. Miguel is married to the beautiful Mariela, who is 7-months pregnant with their firstborn, but Miguel harbors a scandalous secret: He is having a love affair with another man, Santiago, a painter who is ostracized by the townsfolk for being agnostic and open about his sexuality.

When Santiago drowns accidentally in the ocean's strong undertow, he cannot pass peacefully to the other side. He returns after his death to ask Miguel to look for his body and bury it according to the rituals of the town. Miguel must choose between sentencing Santiago to eternal torment or doing right by him and, in turn, revealing their relationship to Mariela and the entire village. Miguel is forced to deal with the consequences of his acts and to come to terms with who he really is, even if by doing so he stands the chance of losing the people he loves the most.

With sweeping images of the beautiful Peruvian coastline, Contracorreinte (Undertow) is the emotional intersection of contemporary sexuality, confronted by tradition and belief. This sexy and redolent love story is the feature film-reviews debut of Javier Fuentes-León and stars Manolo Cardona (Beverly Hills Chihuahua), Cristian Mercado (Che) and Tatiana Astengo. The film-reviews is produced by Javier Fuentes-León and Rodrigo Guerrero (Maria Full of Grace, Dog Eat Dog).

Sydney film-reviews Festival is on from June 2 – 14 at the State Theatre and various satellite venues. For full details of screenings and ticketing visit the festival website