One of the country’s most exciting directors working today, Sophie Hyde’s 2014 film 52 Tuesdays was not only ground-breaking but also a critical darling, winning both a best directing award at the Sundance Film Festival and a Crystal Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival, which super-charged her career, leading to her knockout film, Animals.
Hyde has been a talent to watch for a while as both director (watch the incredible documentary Life in Movement if you get the chance) and producer (Shut Up Little Man!, another Sundance hit). And recently, she co-created SBS’s smash TV series The Hunting, so no matter what medium or genre she chooses, it appears she can do little wrong.
Tell us a little about your film at SBS On Demand.
52 Tuesdays is a feature drama that was made in an unconventional way. It’s a story that is set and shot every Tuesday, only on Tuesdays, for one year (hence 52 Tuesdays!). It tells the story of a teenager whose mother limits their time together to just Tuesdays as they transition to living as a man and it explores both parent and child coming of age and meeting each other as two humans. It was filmed in 2011 in Adelaide and we made it in a very isolated way – a small team working on Tuesdays, lots of rehearsals, we wrote as we went and the cast were new actors. But then it got accepted to Sundance Film Festival where it won the Best Director award in the World Cinema Dramatic competition and then it won the Crystal Bear at the Berlinale. It is the debut film of actor Tilda Cobham-Hervey – she was 16 when we started shooting.
Also at SBS On Demand is our show The Hunting which began with the same team as 52 Tuesdays – writer Matthew Cormack, me as co-creator (with Cormack), producer Rebecca Summerton, composer Benjamin Speed and editor Bryan Mason. We were then joined by an exceptional and much bigger team of creatives, cast and crew to make this four-part drama series about teenagers sharing explicit images of their friends and peers online and the ramifications of those betrayals on the teenagers, their teachers and their parents. It features a beautiful ensemble cast including Asher Keddie and Richard Roxburgh alongside a host of other established Australian actors and some really fresh new talent.
Watch 52 Tuesdays now at SBS On Demand.
Four-part series The Hunting is also now at SBS On Demand.
What are you currently working on?
A feature documentary I produced – In My Blood it Runs – was in the middle of a really successful cinema run when this lockdown began and we have worked to move that to a virtual cinema run – so it’s available right now on Vimeo on demand with live Q&As for particular screenings. That film has been keeping me busy as we sell it to TV networks and virtual cinema events around the world.
I am also currently working with Matthew Cormack to write a comedy/drama film about a queer family, with Tilda Cobham-Hervey to adapt a novel, and have several TV series in various stages of active development.
How are you coping with self-isolation?
I was supposed to be in LA right now talking about new work and I’ve been able to keep a lot of those conversations going remotely. I had a friend who is also a filmmaker staying with me when all this started. We were doing a kind of writers’ retreat together, working side by side on our own projects and giving feedback – we kept doing that a bit but in a distracted way and eventually she returned to New York. So now my days feel really full with development and managing films and shows that are already made. And I’m doing a lot of at-home yoga and workouts, trying to cook well, playing board games, helping my child manage remote schooling, doing heaps of zoom meetings and drinking a lot of wine.
What are your 5 favourite films at SBS On Demand?
1. Capernaum (Capharnaüm)
Director: Nadine Labaki
Cast: Boluwatife Treasure Bankole, Zain Al Rafeea, Yordanos Shiferaw
This beautiful film from Nadine Labaki features some of the best child acting I have ever seen. Set in Lebanon and about a child rejecting his parents, it broke my heart but don’t be afraid to watch it. It’s a pleasure and a feat of filmmaking. It won the Jury prize at Cannes.
Watch Capernaum now at SBS On Demand.
Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Cast: Javier Bardem, Maricel Alvarez, Hanaa Bouchaib
By Alejandro González Iñárritu (who also made Birdman, The Revenent, Amores Perros). This features Javier Bardem who won best actor at Cannes. It feels so lived in with the characters and performers and design, and I adore the way it’s shot – it’s not great sweeping beauty but seemingly raw and imprecise but beautiful.
Watch Biutiful now at SBS On Demand.
Director: Sally Potter
Cast: Tilda Swinton, Billy Zane, Lothaire Bluteau
This is where I first became aware of Tilda Swinton although she had already been in so much of Derek Jarman’s work prior to this. This ’90s movie by Sally Potter about a young nobleman ordered by his queen not to grow old, features a character who shifts genders and maintains youth. Like most films I don’t remember the story, just feeling drawn into the world and the moments.
Watch Orlando now at SBS On Demand.
4. The Past/A Separation
The Past/A Separation
Director: Asghar Farhadi
Cast: Tahar Rahim, Berenice Bejo/Payman Maadi, Leila Hatami, Sareh Bayat
The Past (2013) and A Separation (2011) both by Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi. If you haven’t seen any of his movies, jump in. Farhadi rehearses with his cast for months before he shoots and it’s evident in their immersion in the character and depth of relationships. Both won a lot of awards with A Separation winning an Oscar and Golden Globe for best foreign language film and the Golden Bear at the Berlinale.
Watch The Past now at SBS On Demand.
Watch A Separation now at SBS On Demand.
5. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Director: Julian Schnabel
Cast: Mathieu Amalric, Emmanuelle Seigner
By artist Julian Schnabel this is about a man who gets locked into his brain and we experience his story from his point of view. I love being so inside a character and this is an extreme version of that. Like the other films here this won so many prizes.
Watch The Diving Bell and the Butterfly now at SBS On Demand.
There are a lot of films I love at SBS on Demand and lucky for me, many I’m really looking forward to seeing – for movies, it totally smashes the selection on all the other platforms. But here’s a selection of other films that are a total delight.
Only Lovers Left Alive. (2013) Jim Jarmusch giving us his take on vampires with Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston and Mia Wasikowska giving, I think, the warmest performances of their careers (which is funny, because… vampires). The music and design in this are swoon-worthy. I love it.
An Education. (2009) Lone Scherfig is a wonderful director and Nick Hornby is a great writer and together they made this delight of a film starring Carey Mulligan and Peter Sarsgaard about a questionable relationship between them (she’s 16 in the film) and how everyone accepts it because it’s a bit glamorous.
The Square. (2017) I shouldn’t say much about this. It’s about a curator and an art gallery. I found it strange and funny and surprising. It’s one to just enter and enjoy. It won the Palme d’Or at Cannes.
Youth. (2015) Set in a sanatorium of sorts in the Alps, with a cast including Michael Caine, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz and the excellent Paul Dano. Watch it for the music and wonderful cinematography. The writer/director Paolo Sorrentino also made the TV series The Young Pope.
Boy. (2010) This film is a pure delight by Taika Waititi. All the charm of his later films including Jo Jo Rabbit and maybe a bit more.
A Single Man. Tom Ford being as stylish directing films as he is designing clothes. Set in the ’60s, Colin Firth plays a professor, Julianne Moore his sad but cool best friend and Nicholas Hoult a beautiful young man. There is a kind of deep, sad, gentle truth in this movie.
Clouds of Sils Maria. (2014) Starring Juliette Binoche as an actress dealing with insecurity as she ages, and I believe was written with her in mind. Kristen Stewart plays her assistant. Stewart always really shines in these European films and for this she won a César Award (the French version of an Academy Award). I thoroughly enjoyed this film.