WOLF AND SHEEP by Shahrbanoo Sadat in competition at SFF

EUROPE! VOICES OF WOMEN IN FILM spotlights ten outstanding European women directors at the Sydney Film Festival June 7 – 18, 2017

Front Row for European Women Filmmakers

EFP (European Film Promotion) partners again with the Sydney Film Festival (SFF) for the second edition of EUROPE! VOICES OF WOMEN IN FILM to introduce ten outstanding European women filmmakers to the Australian audience, film industry and press. The selection by festival director Nashen Moodley presents an exciting range from feature film debuts making a first splash on the international festival circuit to well-versed directors, whose work has already been critically acclaimed. All of them are award-winning directors, most of them relying on their own scripts to tell their stories.

The five feature length debuts include much lauded Shahrbanoo Sadat, who presented her first shortfilm "Vice Versa One" at the Quinzaine des réalisateurs in Cannes 2011, which earned her a residence at the Cinéfondation in Cannes, when she was only 20 years old. Award-winning "Wolf and Sheep" – screened in competition in Sydney - is her feature film debut. Also from Scandinavia comes writer/director Amanda Kernell, whose debut "Sami Blood" was presented at festivals in Berlin, Venice, Toronto, Sundance and Rotterdam among others and awarded Best Nordic Film in 2017 in Gothenburg. German literary sensation Helene Hegemann – praised for her authenticity – wrote her first script at the age of 14 and was only 18 when she published her first novel, which became her feature film debut "Axolotl Overkill" in 2017. From Georgia comes Rusudan Glurjidze, whose semiautobiographical debut "House of Others" won several awards and critical acclaim. British director Hope Dickson Leach, already one of Screen International's Stars of Tomorrow right after finishing film school in 2006, will present her feature debut, the tautly told family drama "The Levelling", for which she also wrote the script.

Macedonian director Teona Strugar Mitevska developed the Balkan youth drama "When the Day Had No Name" about lost values and sexual magnetism together with her young actors. Shining a light on an almost unbelievable aspect of Swiss history is Petra Biondina Volpe. In the darkly humored "The Divine Order" she tells of the fight of the Swiss women for the right to vote and to be elected – in 1971! Taking a dive in a completely different culture is Claudia Varejão, who portrays in her documentary the Japanese apnoea divers called "Ama-San". Another documentary comes from Ireland: Neasa Ní Chianáin and co-director David Rane follow the work of two teachers, whose unconventional methods empower youngsters in "School Life". Tizza Covi, who realizes her films with Rainer Frimmel, takes the main character in "Mister Universo" on a journey guided by irrational forces.

The supporting EFP members are: Austrian Films, British Council, Danish Film Institute, Georgian National Film Center, German Films, ICA / Portugal, Irish Film Board, Macedonian Film Agency, Swedish Film Institute, Swiss Films

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The selected films are:

When Tairo loses his talisman, he loses his ability to perform with his lions. Bereft, his only solution is to travel across Italy to replace his lucky charm, a bar of iron bent into the shape of a horseshoe, gifted to him by former Mister Universe strongman Arthur Robin. Through Tairo's journey we meet a wonderful, engaging group of characters who remain committed to the disappearing world of the travelling circus. Filled with dry humour and beautifully shot on 35mm film, Mister Universo is a charming modern fable, made more powerful by the real circus personalities playing versions of themselves.

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Mister Universo
Tizza Covi
Austria, Italy

A visually breathtaking drama about two families struggling to adjust in post-war Georgia of the 1990s. Following the Civil War, families on the victorious side are granted the homes of the defeated. Now in a time of peace, these families try to embrace their chance to start again, but are haunted by the sins of the past. Based in part on her own life story, Rusudan Glurjidze's remarkably assured debut is an atmospheric film that has earned comparisons to the works of Tarkovsky and Bergman. Winner of the East of the West Grand Prix at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival.

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House of Others
Rusudan Glurjidze
Georgia, Russian Federation, Spain, Croatia

The Sundance cinematography award-winner, directed by Helene Hegemann and based on the controversial novel she wrote at 17, is a wild ride through the Berlin party scene. 16-year-old Mifti is largely ignored by her wealthy father and struggles to connect with her peers, so she immerses herself in the world of adults and parties, drugs, love affairs and casual sex. With a great soundtrack of soul, R&B and hip hop, Hegemann tells a stylish, impressionistic tale about the difficulties of finally growing up. '[A] turbulent teen odyssey through Berlin's hedonistic excesses.' - Wendy Ide, Screen International

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Axolotl Overkill
Helene Hegemann

A multiple award winner and hit at festivals including Toronto, Sundance and Venice, this is the moving story of a Sámi girl who severs ties with her family and her Arctic culture. Growing up in 1930s Sweden when the indigenous Sámi people were discriminated against, 14-year-old Elle is bright and ambitious but is stymied. When she is forced to endure race biology examinations, she decides to take on a new identity. Lene Cecilia Sparrok is astonishing in this powerful debut by Amanda Kernell.

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Sami Blood
Amanda Kernell
Sweden, Norway, Denmark

Following her brother's apparent suicide, Clare (Ellie Kendrick, Game of Thrones) returns to the place she grew up to find the family home and dairy farm in Somerset in disrepair, on the verge of collapse. As Clare discovers the scale of the problem, and learns more about her brother's death, she is forced to confront her stubborn, uncommunicative father Aubrey (David Troughton). Perfectly acted and directed with complete control of the complex and emotional subject matter, The Levelling provides a rich and rewarding experience.

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The Levelling
Hope Dickson Leach
United Kingdom

Milan and his best friend Petar are preparing for an adventurous excursion with some other teenagers from the outskirts of Skopje. They are full of adrenaline, pepped up for a boys' night out of drinking and horseplay before an early morning fishing expedition. They are typical teenagers full of sexual and romantic tensions and angst about money and material things. They are sometimes devilish and sometimes angelic; hungry to be adults, yet still mostly acting like children. They all have dysfunctional relationships with their parents, representing a whole generation of youth raised in a time of transition and questionable values. Their night of fun is tainted by ethnic tensions and an ill-fated visit to a teenage prostitute...

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When the Day Had No Name
Teona Strugar Mitevska
Republic of North Macedonia, Slovenia, Belgium

A spirited documentary featuring two soon-to-retire teachers at a rambling Irish boarding school who view their charges with equal parts eccentricity and care. John and Amanda Leyden have taught there for over 40 years and no doubt they've seen it all, but their dedication (underlined in the film's original title, In Loco Parentis) is unwavering. Their approach is undoubtedly archaic, bringing to mind Goodbye Mr Chips, but nonetheless they forge a bond with 21st century teen rebels and homesick kids alike. Ní Chianáin's fly-on-the-wall camera reaches every nook and cranny, but is never intrusive. Rather it captures the lives of teachers and students with liberal poignancy and charm.

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School Life
Neasa Ní Chianáin
Ireland, Spain

Winner of the top prize at Cannes Directors' Fortnight 2016, Wolf and Sheep is set in rural Afghanistan, where simple village life is enlivened with stories of mystery and imagination. Our view into this timeless community is through its children, who mimic the adults in their gossiping and lewd language. Boys and girls don't mix but outsiders Qodrat and Sediqa defy the rules and develop a beautiful friendship. Using a cast of non-actors, Sadat has created a unique view of Afghanistan replete with all the mundanities and difficulties of life, but also with myth and magic.

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Wolf and Sheep
Shahrbanoo Sadat
Denmark, France, Sweden, Afghanistan

For centuries, the ama (literally 'women of the sea') of the Shima Peninsula have been diving for seafood. Portuguese director Cláudia Varejão's lyrical film captures three generations of divers (with an average age of 67) as they head into the Pacific, folding their traditional headdresses and adjusting their goggles. As the women plunge beneath the ocean, silence surrounds them and time slows - a fitting analogy for this enduring but endangered tradition. This spellbinding film is awash in hypnotic visuals and reflects on past and future, while questioning common concepts of femininity.

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Claudia Varejao
Portugal, Switzerland, Japan

The Divine Order is set In Switzerland In 1971, where women were still denied the right to vote. When unassuming housewife Nora Is forbidden by her husband to take a part-time Job, she realizes that the private Is political and starts to fight for the right to vote.

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The Divine Order
Petra Biondina Volpe