Australian talent features prominently in the first look at the Sydney Film Festival 2019 program released today.

The 66th Sydney Film Festival returns this year with a 25 film tease of its full line-up, to be announced on May 8.

Sophie Hyde, director of the diaristic Adelaide-set trans film 52 Tuesdays, features prominently in this year’s program with Animals, an acclaimed dramedy about female friendship starring Search Party‘s Alia Shawkat and Holliday Grainger.

The first look’s major queer offering is Melbourne Queer Film Festival’s opening night film Papi Chulo, from Handsome Devil director John Butler, marking its Sydney premiere.

The film stars out actor Matt Bomer as a gay TV weatherman who strikes up with a straight Mexican migrant worker he hires to work on his home.

Also featured in the program is the documentary She Who Must Be Obeyed Loved, a celebration of the life of trailblazing Indigenous filmmaker Alfreda Glynn, and The Final Quarter, which covers Indigenous footballer Adam Goodes‘ life and career after he called out the racism built into Australian sport, and society at large.

The new Australian offerings sit alongside a major retrospective of Australia’s groundbreaking women filmmakers in a previously announced, David Stratton-curated selection which will play at the Art Gallery of New South Wales throughout the festival.

Including Tracey Moffatt’s Bedevil and Paulette McDonagh’s 1930 silent film The Cheaters, the program represents a series of milestones in Australian film history.

McDonagh’s last film in 1933 marked a 46-year drought in which no Australian woman directed a feature film until Gillian Armstrong made My Brilliant Career with Judy Davis, with whom she reunited for High Tide, which will play this year’s festival.

Among the international highlights is Claire Denis’ High Life, an enigmatic, bizarre sci-fi starring Robert Pattinson and Juliette Binoche, and In Fabric, Peter Strickland’s acclaimed slice of bizarre, sensuous camp centred around the demonic force of an evil red dress.

On the documentary side, one of the best-reviewed films of the past year arrives on Australia shores in Amazing Grace, a live concert film centred on Aretha Franklin’s powerhouse voice. Considered unreleasable due to major technical issues, it’s a major miracle this is a film we’ll have the chance to see.

Also charting the stories of the world at Anthropocene: The Human Epoch, a document of the way humans have radically, destructively altered our planet, and The Kleptocrats, an account of investigative reporters’ dogged pursuit of the truth behind $3.5 billion dollars that went missing from a Malaysian wealth fund – and somehow ended up part of the financing for Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street.

The Sydney Film Festival 2019 first look aligns with the festival’s increasing focus on the untold stories of the world, including award-winning Thai film Manta Ray and Vietnamese arranged marriage drama The Third Wife.

This year’s festival runs from June 5 to 16 across all its regular venues. For more information about this year’s festival and to check out all the preview films, head to sff.org.au.

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