THE 2015 edition of the Sydney Film Festival will feature another line-up of films, documentaries, short films and animated films from all corners of the world.

Regarded as one of the world’s longest-running festivals — this year is its 62nd instalment — Sydney Film Festival (SFF) will have 200 film screenings at venues located all over the city across a week and half.

Once more, LGBTI-themed films prominently feature in the line-up. Among those include the world premiere of Holding The Man, based on the beloved Australian memoir of the same name by Timothy Conigrave, as well as the Australian premiere of feature documentary Gayby Baby. But there are many more. Here are Star Observer’s picks.

54: The  Director’s Cut

Mark Christopher’s cult disco drama 54 took a hit when film company Miramax stepped in to edit and reshoot it to “make it less queer” and to appeal to mainstream audiences. Seventeen years later, Christopher has re-imaged his movie, restoring almost 40 minutes so it closely resembles the homoerotic, hedonistic, camp and risque original he first intended it to be. Ryan Phillippe plays Shane, who learns to use his hot body to flirt and sleep his way up the social hierarchy of one of New York’s most legendary nightclubs. Mike Myers plays club owner Steve Rubell, who parties hard and collects young, shirtless male staff like trophies. Also stars Salma Hayek, Breckin Meyer and Neve Campbell.

Sworn Virgin

This feature film explores cultural, trans* and gender issues and features a remarkable performance by Alba Rohrwacher as a woman who lives her life as a man. While still a girl, Hana decides to escape her fate as a wife and virtual servant in the mountains of Albania. She takes an oath of eternal virginity which gives women the chance to pick up a rifle and live free as a man. For everybody in the village Hana becomes Mark. Several years later Mark visits Italy, and in the freeing environment Hana slowly begins to re-emerge after years of hiding.

Grandma

Lily Tomlin stars as Elle: a foul-mouthed, broke lesbian poet who helps her troubled granddaughter Sage (Julia Garner) in Paul Weitz’s charming comedy-drama. Audiences encounter Elle’s ex-lovers and friends, as well as her fractured family, and it all takes place over one day. Tomlin clearly embraces her gay icon status in the movie, showing off her comedic skills to perfection.

Tangerine

Tangerine is a hilarious, offbeat journey with two trans* sex workers on the streets of LA. Sin-Dee (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez), having just been released from prison, discovers that her boyfriend Chester (James Ransone) has been unfaithful. Sin-Dee and her best friend Alexandra (Mya Taylor) then embark on a journey to get to the bottom of it. Remarkably, the film was filmed entirely on an iPhone 5S.

Gayby Baby

A story that explores the lives of four kids, Gus, Ebony, Matt and Graham, whose parents all happen to be gay. Kids being raised by same-sex couples are growing in numbers worldwide, and this intimate and humourous film offers a frank yet heartwarming picture of rainbow families. Gayby Baby has been dubbed as first film to show the perspective of children in such families, and was developed from the 2013 short documentary Growing Up Gayby on ABC. A successful crowdfunding campaign — where over 1300 supporters donated and more than $100,000 was raised — as well as additional government grants, has led to this unique documentary feature production.

Holding the Man

SFF’s closing night film will also be a world premiere screening. A love story for everyone, Neil Armfield’s adaptation of Timothy Conigrave’s beloved memoir of the same name was filmed at Xavier College in Melbourne — where Conigrave met his life partner, school football captain John Caleo, in 1976. The story also provides an insight into what it was like during the time of Australia’s HIV and AIDS crisis. The classic story is finally coming to the big screen, and includes brilliant performances by Ryan Corr, Craig Stott and Guy Pearce.

Holding the Man movie 2015

Sydney Film Festival is on between June 3-14. For details, visit www.sff.org.au

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**This story was first published in the June edition of the Star Observer, which is available to read in digital flip-book format. To obtain a physical copy, click here to find out where you can grab one in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Canberra and select regional/coastal areas.

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