Sydney Film Festival organisers today announced a selection of anticipated films in the lead-up to the festival’s 58th season, taking place from June 8 to 19.

Three of the festival’s 12 Official Competition films have been announced, including a treat for fans of Miranda July’s 2005 indie breakout hit Me and You and Everyone We Know. The long-awaited follow-up, The Future, is about a couple who decide to get a cat in an attempt to strengthen their fractured relationship.

“It’s narrated by the cat. A slightly different approach to film structure!” festival director Clare Stewart explained.

“The competition values courageous, audacious and cutting edge cinema. From a curatorial perspective, it’s the most exciting set of values you can work with. Miranda July is the queen of that, of course.”

This year the film continues its ‘Pathways’ approach to programming, launched in 2009. The programming method groups films into general thematic categories, including Freak Me Out, Make Me Laugh and Take Me On A Journey.

“It’s worked a treat to help inform people’s choices, because 120 films can seem very daunting,” Stewart said.

“Most international festivals work within more traditional structures — this is more about positioning the films in a way that speaks the language of the audience, rather than the language of people who already know a hell of a lot about film.”

Stewart said there’d been an increase in interest from casual moviegoers since the format was introduced.

“It’s worked well — last year we had a 20 percent increase in sales and a 15 percent increase in attendance, and we’ve found that 31 percent of our audience has started attending in the two years since we made this change.

“Given that we’re a 58-year-old event, it’s important to reinvent yourself.”

Early queer picks of the festival include All About Love, “an absolutely adorable romantic comedy set in the lesbian scene in Hong Kong, juggling issues that are still quite taboo in Hong Kong in a very mainstream way”.

Fans of comic book carnage should seek out Japanese teen horror film Mutant Girls Squad, while Gael Garcia Bernal lovers will enjoy Even The Rain, a French/ Spanish/ Mexican co-production in which he stars as a film director facing financial and political challenges.

And with 10, 20 and 30-film Flexi-passes already on sale from the festival website, Stewart said she was keen to see filmgoers take a punt on some of the festival’s more challenging fare.

“For me the Flexi-passes are exciting, because they encourage people to take risks on things they might not have otherwise seen.

“In a festival environment, you should always see what you really want to see, but you should also always be ready to take a risk and see something that might change your response to the world.”

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Watch the trailer for All About Love here:

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