Find out more about the 12 films competing for the Sydney Film Festival's prestigious Sydney Film Prize.
6 May 2015 - 12:19 PM  UPDATED 6 May 2015 - 4:13 PM

Three Australian films, an 8-hour, three-volume Portuguese epic, and a one-take bank heist thriller are among the 12 contenders for the Sydney Film Prize, the major award of the Sydney Film Festival.

The $60,000 cash prize rewards ‘courageous and audacious’ storytelling, and the competition is always the subject of debate during the 11 day festival.

 “Sydney Film Festival’s Official Competition is where audiences can experience some of the most daring, riveting and compelling films in the world right now,” said Sydney Film Festival Director Nashen Moodley, who is responsible for selecting of 12 films competing. “The competition is an exciting program of films that demonstrates artistry and innovation in filmmaking,” he said.

This year’s lineup is:

Arabian Nights

Director: Miguel Gomes, Portugal

The longest film in the festival, it will screen in three parts after its world premiere in Director’s Fortnight at Cannes. It’s described as an extraordinary, vivid portrait of a Portugal under strict austerity measures.

Black Souls

Director: Francesco Munzi, Italy

A multiple winner from the Venice Film Festival, it examines the generational shift underway in a Calabrian mafia clan.

Watch the trailer:

The Daughter

Director: Simon Stone, Australia

A dysfunctional family drama set in the dying days of a NSW logging town. It stars Geoffrey Rush, Ewen Leslie, Sam Neill, Miranda Otto and Odessa Young. The first feature from theatre director/actor Simon Stone (who  directed the Cate Blanchett/Richard Roxburgh segment of The Turning).


Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Director: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon , United States

Winner of the Grand Jury Prize for Dramatic Film and the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival, and based on a bestselling young-adult novel. The film is a bittersweet comedy about friendship, mortality and the love of film.

Watch the trailer:

A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence

Director: Roy Andersson, Sweden

The latest exploration of the human condition from the Swedish deadpanning surrealist. The film won the Golden Lion at Venice.

Watch the trailer:


Director: Jen Peedom, Australia

A documentary that chronicles the uneasy relationship between Sherpa labourers and foreign mountain climbers on Mount Everest. The film incorporates footage of the devastating aftermath of the fatal 2014 avalanche.



Director: Kim Farrant, Australia

An outback-set thriller about two parents searching for their missing children, the film stars Nicole Kidman, Joseph Fiennes and Hugo Weaving. We reviewed it at Sundance, noting that it "flirts with the mystic and the primal, the raw and the metaphysical"

Watch the trailer:


Director: Rakhshan Bani-Etemad, Iran

A long-in-the-making new feature from Iran’s most highly regarded woman filmmaker. A multifaceted look at life in Tehran, the film features an ensemble of top Iranian talent, including Peiman Moaadi (A Separation).

Watch the trailer:


Director: Sean Baker, United States

An offbeat adventure following two transgender sex workers through the streets of Los Angeles, shot entirely on an iPhone 5s.

Watch the trailer:

Tehran Taxi

Director: Jafar Panahi, Iran

The third clandestine film from banned Iranian filmmaker /dissident Jafar Panahi . It won the Golden Bear at the 2015 Berlinale, the film follows a taxi driver, played by Panahi himself, on a revealing and comedic ride.

Watch the trailer:


Director: Sebastian Schipper, Germany

A one-shot film that chronicles a Berlin bank robbery and its aftermath.

Watch the trailer:



Director: Thomas Salvador, France

An understated take on the superhero genre, involving a man who assumes special powers when he comes into contact with water.

Watch the trailer:


The 2015 Sydney Film Festival takes place from June 3 - 14. 

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