Saoirse Ronan the outrun
Saoirse Ronan in The Outrun. Photography: Protagonist Pictures

IT’S THAT TIME of the year when the film world’s eyes become briefly yet firmly planted on Sydney. The 2024 Sydney Film Festival – otherwise known as the Sydney cinephile’s Christmas – is about to arrive in town, and as usual, the program is packed with everything from indie darlings to recent standouts from the global festival circuit.

More than 200 films and documentaries from over 70 countries will be screening at the 2024 Sydney Film Festival from June 4 to 16, which is a testament to the festival’s ascendence to becoming a fixture on the cinematic calendar. But to the average moviegoer, it presents are rather overwhelming decision-making process. Should you stick to local features to support Australian cinema or expand your palette with international films? Is it worth bothering with the bigger names on the billing if they’ll be releasing in cinemas soon? Should you flock to the obscure indie flicks because there may not be another opportunity to see them?

These are some of the thoughts that will flash through your mind upon seeing the program for the 2024 Sydney Film Festival. Don’t worry though, we’ve got you. Here, we’ll be breaking down the essential films and documentaries you’ll want to prioritise. We’ll also tell you everything else you need to know to make sure you get the most out of the festivities. Read on and start planning.

What are the best films to see at the Sydney Film Festival 2024?

The Bikeriders

The Bikeriders recounts the life and times of members of a motorbike club, the Vandals, from the club’s establishment by a band of outsiders to its transition into a sinister gang and its inevitable implosion. The film is inspired by Danny Lyon’s 1968 black-and-white photo and interview book of the same name, which is celebrated as one of the best documentations of ‘60s biker culture in the American Midwest. Austin Butler, Tom Hardy and Jodie Comer all star.

Kinds of Kindness

As we’re still choking on the phantasmagorical fumes of New Wave Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos’ last film, Poor Things (which took home four Oscars), Lanthimos is back with another imaginative hit again starring Emma Stone. Kinds of Kindness is a triptych tale with three distinct storylines that feature the same actors but are otherwise only loosely connected. Alongside Stone, Willem Dafoe, Margaret Qualley, Hunter Schaffer, Jesse Plemons, Hong Chau and Joe Alwyn all contribute. Expect a mind-bender.



Francis Ford Coppola’s long-term passion project Megalopolis was a late addition to the Sydney Film Festival program. Premiering at Cannes two weeks ago, Megalopolis stars Adam Driver as an idealistic architect rebuilding a decaying cityscape after a devastating accident. Coppola believes the film is his magnum opus, but critics are less convinced. The Ringer called it a “big, beautiful mess”, The Guardian says it’s “megabloated and megaboring”, but The New Yorker labelled it “madly captivating”. Megalopolis will make its Australian premiere and is only showing at the Sydney Film Festival on June 15th at IMAX Sydney.

The Outrun

Saoirse Ronan is already garnering Oscar buzz for Blitz, but her biggest rival for Best Actress could be herself, as her portrayal of an addict returning to her home in the Orkney islands to heal in The Outrun has been similarly praised.

I Saw the TV Glow

Rising trans filmmaker Jane Schoenbrun’s new film is drawing all sorts of hype on every corner of the internet. I Saw the TV Glow is a supernatural horror film from A24 that, on the surface, tells the story of a late night TV show that offers a glimpse into the horrific world beneath our own, but is thematically about teenage identity. Phoebe Bridgers is slated to make her acting debut in a minor-to-medium role where she plays herself.

The Moogai

The Moogai

This year, the Sydney Film Festival is debuting its inaugural First Nations Award. A leading contender for the honour is The Moogai. From First Nations director Jon Bell, The Moogai uses a mother’s visions of her child being kidnapped by a terrifying, cradle-snatching monster as a metaphor for the Stolen Generations.

The Dead Don’t Hurt

Viggo Mortensen (of The Lord of the Rings and more recently The Green Book fame) not only stars in The Dead Don’t Hurt, he also serves as the film’s director, writer and composer. The Dead Don’t Hurt takes a feminist approach to the Western archetype, with Mortensen playing a Danish Immigrant who settles down with his French-Canadian partner in a frontier town right before the American Civil War erupts and throws a wrench in the romance.

The Convert

Another film in the running for the First Nations award, The Convert stars Guy Pearce as a British Preacher who arrives in a tiny coastal settlement in 1830s New Zealand, only to find himself caught between warring tribes during the devastating Musket Wars and the early days of colonialism.

What are the best documentaries to see at the Sydney Film Festival 2024?

Soundtrack to a Coup d’Etat

Soundtrack to a Coup d’Etat, which took home the special jury award for cinematic innovation at the Sundance Film Festival, is a cinematic essay that weaves in and out of the history of jazz and the clandestine late-colonial machinations of the US government. The documentary chronicles the time the USA sent Louis Armstrong, Nina Simone, and Dizzy Gillespie on a goodwill-building tour in Africa, which has since been branded a distraction from the CIA-orchestrated assassination of Congolese prime minister Patrice Lumumba.



If you’re a fan of the ‘Stuff the British Stole’ podcast you’ll be a fan of Dahomey – which takes its name from the nation that is now the Republic of Benin. Absurdist in nature but exposing an underlying truth, Dahomey is narrated by a statue that was stolen from the former Kingdom of Dahomey by colonial French soldiers.

The Pool

It wouldn’t be the Sydney Film Festival without a hyperlocal focus on an iconic landmark. The Pool paints a cinematic portrait of the famous Bondi Icebergs swimming pool – the world’s most photographed pool. Director Ian Darling blends together pieces of the pool’s history with interviews with locals, tourists, and everyone who considers the pool to be a pillar of the Sydney community.



Aquarius tells the story of the inaugural Aquarius festival, which was held in the Northern NSW town of Nimbin in 1973. Featuring recently uncovered archival footage and interviews with festival co-founders and attendees, Aquarius is a glimpse into a small part of history that once offered an alternative future.

A New Kind Of Wilderness

The winner of the Grand Jury prize at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival, A New Kind Of Wilderness follows a young family attempting to live a sustainable, off-the-grid life in the Norwegian countryside. Director Silje Evensmo Jacobsen periodically lived among the family and filmed them over several years, capturing their journey in forging a new life.

When is the Sydney Film Festival?

The 2024 Sydney Film Festival will take place from June 5th-16th. The world premiere of Midnight Oil: The Hardest Line at the opening night gala on June 5th will open the festival at the State Theatre, while body-horror film The Substance (which premiered at Cannes two weeks ago) will close the proceedings 12 days later.

Where can you get tickets for the Sydney Film Festival?

Single-session tickets and more expansive flexipasses for the 2024 Sydney Film Festival are available to purchase at the Sydney Film Festival’s official website here. Or you can call 1300 733 733 to make a booking over the phone.

What venues are hosting the Sydney Film Festival?

13 venues split across four regions will host showings during the 2024 Sydney Film Festival. These aren’t just any run-of-the-mill franchises or run-down theatres though. All 13 venues are rich in history and can count themselves amongst Sydney’s finest cinematic establishments. Find the full list of host venues below.

  • New South Wales State Theatre (Sydney CBD)
  • Dendy Newtown (Inner West)
  • Event Cinemas George Street (Sydney CBD)
  • Ritz Cinemas Randwick (Eastern Suburbs)
  • Hayden Orpheum Cremorne (North Shore)
  • Palace Central Cinemas (Sydney CBD)
  • City Recital Hall (Sydney CBD)
  • IMAX Sydney (Sydney CBD)
  • Art Gallery of New South Wales (Sydney CBD)
  • The Hub, Lower Town Hall (Sydney CBD)
  • Sydney Town Hall (Sydney CBD)


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