Retrospekt directed by Esther Rots from The Netherlands

EFP Highlights Ten Outstanding European Women Directors at SFF

EUROPE! VOICES OF WOMEN IN FILM at the Sydney Film Festival (5 – 16 June 2019) showcases the works of outstanding European women directors to the Australian audience, film industry and press. In its fourth year, the thriving cooperation between EFP (European Film Promotion) and the festival to promote European cinema provides a thrilling insight into the works of truly new European voices in film in its final selection made by SFF's festival director Nashen Moodley: six directors are presenting their first feature films and three of them their second. Also taking a strong interest in their work is the acclaimed Australian producer Jan Chapman ("The Piano"), the programme's ambassador from the very beginning. The initiative is made possible with the support of Creative Europe – MEDIA Programme of the European Union and the respective EFP member organisations.

Six directors will attend the festival this year and take part in special networking events organised by SFF and EFP. They will meet Australian distributors and producers and discuss the state of affairs of gender equality in the business in a panel discussion moderated by Sarah Ward, critic for the programme's media partner Screen International. As part of a new cooperation Festival Scope also makes the films available for industry players from the region. On hand to discuss their films with the great festival audience are: Carolina Hellsgård (Germany), Marianna Economou (Greece), Asthildur Kjartansdóttir (Iceland), Tonia Mishiali (Cyprus), Esther Rots (The Netherlands), and Elena Tikhonova (Austria).

The directors presenting their feature film debuts are the multi-talented Tonia Mishiali from Cyprus, who served as the screenwriter, director and producer on her drama Pause. She tells the story of a woman trying to escape from an oppressive marriage, as seen only from her protagonist's point of view. Also struggling is Dorien, who has to rediscover herself when her picture perfect family starts falling apart in the comedy-drama The Best of Dorien B. by the Belgian director Anke Blondé. In The Deposit, the Icelandic writer-director Ásthildur Kjartansdottir follows the journalist Gisella, who tries to give her life more meaning by helping three immigrant women. In the Austrian comedy Caviar by Elena Tikhonova, the interpreter Nadja discovers the upside of working for a Russian oligarch. Together with her best friends, she devises a scheme for making much better use of his money. British writer-director Harry Wootliff shows a very contemporary take on the thrills of falling in love and the difficulties of staying that way in Only You, starring Josh O'Connor and Laia Costa.

Danish filmmaker May el-Toukhy collaborates again with Trine Dyrholm for her second feature film, with the actress this time playing a successful lawyer, happily married with twins, who risks everything when she falls for her teenage stepson in Queen of Hearts. The great Danish actress also appears in Endzeit – Ever After, the second feature film of Carolina Hellsgård – born in Sweden and based in Berlin –, who thrills her audience with her new take on zombie films, while Esther Rots explores new, exciting ways of narrative storytelling in the Dutch psychological drama Retrospekt.

The programme also includes two documentaries: the feature debut Scheme Birds by Ellen Fiske and Ellinor Hallin follows Scottish teenager Gemma, a soon-to-be mother, as she tries to stay out of trouble and carve out a life of her own. Completing the very diverse line-up is the award-winning Greek filmmaker Marianna Economou whose When Tomatoes Met Wagner focuses on the incredible story of a small Greek village that cultivates old tomato varieties – with a little help from classical music – and starts selling its jars of organic tomatoes around the globe.

The supporting EFP members are: AFC – Austrian Films, British Council, Danish Film Institute, Eye International (The Netherlands), Flanders Image, German Films, Greek Film Centre, Icelandic Film Centre, Ministry of Education and Culture of Cyprus, Swedish Film Institute.

*** click here for more information on EUROPE! VOICES OF WOMEN IN FILM ***

From Wednesday 5 June to Sunday 16 June 2019, the 66th Sydney Film Festival offers Sydney-siders another exciting season of cinema amidst a whirlwind of premieres, red-carpet openings, in-depth discussions, international guests and more.
Sydney Film Festival also presents an Official Competition of 12 films that vie for the Sydney Film Prize, a highly respected honour that awards a $60,000 cash prize based on the decision of a jury of international and Australian filmmakers and industry professionals. Previous Sydney Film Prize winners: The Heiresses (2018), On Body and Soul (2017); Aquarius (2016); Arabian Nights (2015); Two Days, One Night (2014); Only God Forgives (2013); Alps (2012); A Separation (2011); Heartbeats (2010); Bronson (2009); and Hunger (2008).
The Festival is a major event on the New South Wales cultural calendar and is one of the world's longest-running film festivals. For more information visit:
The 66th Sydney Film Festival is supported by the NSW Government through Create NSW and Destination NSW, the Federal Government through Screen Australia and the City of Sydney. The Festival's Strategic Partner is the NSW Government via its tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW.

get in touch

Film Selection 2019

Dorien is a suburban veterinarian and mum whose life is turned upside down in short order. She finds out her parents are breaking up; her husband has been hanging out with the colleague he cheated with a year ago; and she has a tumour in her breast. Belgian filmmaker Anke Blondé's first feature is a splendidly observant and funny comedy-drama, powered by a luminous star performance by newcomer Kim Snauwaert.

watch trailer

The Best of Dorien B.
Anke Blondé
Belgium, The Netherlands

Aleco and Christo are cousins who run an organic farm in rural Greece, growing tomatoes with the help of some hard-working old ladies - and classical music blasted across the fields. Packing their lovingly grown produce as expensive specialty meals for overseas consumers, they struggle to compete in a trendy market. Marianna Economou's documentary is an engaging, funny and melancholy study of hope amidst financial crisis.

watch trailer

When Tomatoes Met Wagner
Marianna Economou

"I don't run away from nothing. I run to it." Gemma's opening words set the tone for an amazingly intimate and at times heartbreaking chronicle of her life in a place blighted by broken promises since the steelworks closed almost 40 years ago. Violence and disappointment are the constants of life here. But Gemma's a "scheme bird", whose courage and determination is memorably captured by co-directors Ellen Fiske and Ellinor Hallin.

watch trailer

Scheme Birds
Ellen Fiske, Ellinor Hallin
Sweden, United Kingdom

Claire (13) is vacationing with her sister Zoe and mother Sophie at a resort hotel in southern Spain. Sophie spends her days by the pool and shows a minimum of interest in her daughters. In the beginning Claire clings to her older sister Zoe, who mercifully lets her tag along. But when Zoe meets a boy her own age, Claire is left alone. By the beach Claire befriends Amram, a young Senegalese beach vendor. As their relationship deepens, Claire tries to help him, but unintentionally ends up making his desolate situation even worse. When the family decides to make a daytrip across the Gibraltar to Morocco, Claire hides Amram in the compartment of their boat. She desperately hopes it is the right thing to do.

watch trailer

Carolina Hellsgård
Germany, Poland, The Netherlands

When Gisella becomes bankrupt, she decides to rent out her spare bedrooms to two immigrant women. The arrangement begins well for all parties but gradually her tenants begin to threaten Gisella's control of the house, her morals and her sanity.

watch trailer

The Deposit
Ásthildur Kjartansdóttir

Cypriot director Tonia Mishiali's striking debut feature centres on a working-class housewife going through menopause and suddenly fed up with the everyday oppression of domestic servitude. Stella Fyrogeni is marvellous as the subdued, tragically stifled Elpida, who chafes at the exhausting drudgery and emptiness of her life and actively fantasises about violence against her brutishly uncaring and frequently cruel husband. Spiked with black humour, the banality of this domestic drama escalates to a satisfying final twist.

watch trailer

Tonia Mishiali
Cyprus, Greece

Dutch director Esther Rots' drama about domestic violence, trauma and memory is part psychological thriller, part experiment in dislocated narrative. Stars Circé Lethem and Lien Wildemeersch are electrifying as a caregiver and her charge, an unstable survivor of abuse, who develop an unhealthy co-dependency. This tragic but enigmatic story, told over multiple fragmentary timelines, is as riveting as it is unsettling.

watch trailer

Esther Rots
The Netherlands, Belgium

Nadja, a Russian living in Vienna, is a translator for boorish billionaire oligarch Igor. When Igor impulsively resolves to build an ostentatious villa on the Danube Canal, he sets out to bribe local officials into redeveloping the area. Meanwhile Nadja, her girlfriend and her hipster nanny plot to dob them in and steal the bribe money. In her debut feature, director Elena Tikhonova doesn't hold back on the raunchy hijinks.

watch trailer

Elena Tikhonova

After a one-night stand on New Year's Eve, Elena and Jake fall madly in love. Within weeks they are living together, and not long after they are trying for a child. When the baby doesn't materialize, pressure builds and the idea of a family starts to overshadow their relationship. A passionate, romantic, and contemporary love story, about the struggle to remain in love when life doesn't give you everything you want it to.

watch trailer

Only You
Harry Wootliff
United Kingdom

A successful lawyer jeopardizes her career and threatens to tear her family apart after engaging in an affair with her teenage stepson.

watch trailer

Queen of Hearts
May el-Toukhy
Denmark, Sweden