59th BFI London Film Festival Announces the UK Premiere of Carol as the 2015 Festival’s American Express® Gala

Director Todd Haynes, stars Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara to attend the UK premiere.

Carol is a deeply romantic, emotionally honest love story and is also cinema at its most intoxicating and immaculate.” – Clare Stewart, BFI London Film Festival Director

The 59th BFI London Film Festival in partnership with American Express® has announced Carol, Todd Haynes’ beautiful 1950s set drama, as the 2015 BFI London Festival’s American Express Gala. The film will receive its UK Premiere on Wednesday 14 October at the Odeon Leicester Square, attended by Academy Award nominated director Haynes and its stars, Academy Award winner Cate Blanchett and Academy Award nominee Rooney Mara. Ms. Mara shared the best actress prize for her role in Carol at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival with Emmanuelle Bercot, who won for “Mon Roi.” (Read Sight & Sound’s Carol review)

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Directed by Todd Haynes, from a seamless adaptation by Phyllis Nagy, “Carol” was anointed a critical favorite at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival in May after its first press screening. It’s the second collaboration of Mr. Haynes and Ms. Blanchett.

Based on Patricia Highsmith’s seminal novel, The Price of Salt, adapted by Emmy nominated screenwriter Phyllis Nagy, directed by Todd Haynes, Carol stars Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Kyle Chandler, Jake Lacy and Sarah Paulson.

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Carol [is] an exquisitely drawn, deeply felt love story that teases out every shadow and nuance of its characters’ inner lives with supreme intelligence, breathtaking poise and filmmaking craft of the most sophisticated yet accessible order.” – Justin Chang, Chief Film Critic, Variety

A young woman in her 20s, Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara) is a clerk working in a Manhattan department store and dreaming of a more fulfilling life when she meets Carol (Cate Blanchett), an alluring woman trapped in a loveless, convenient marriage. As an immediate connection sparks between them, the innocence of their first encounter dims and their connection deepens.

While Carol breaks free from the confines of marriage, her husband (Kyle Chandler) threatens her competence as a mother when Carol’s involvement with Therese and close relationship with her best friend Abby (Sarah Paulson) comes to light.  As Carol leaves the comfort of home to travel with Therese, an internal journey of self-discovery coincides with her new sense of space.

Todd Haynes, Director remarked, We are all extremely proud to be presenting the UK premiere of Carol at the BFI London Film Festival, a film adaptation which had its roots in Britain, and a festival which has meant a tremendous amount to me personally over the years.”

Added Producer Elizabeth Karlsen, As a British/American production it is very fitting that Carol will premiere as the BFI London Film Festival’s American Express Gala. Carol is a beautiful romance with two powerful women at its heart and we are truly honoured that UK audiences will have the chance to see such a female-driven film at one of the world’s most prestigious festivals. Phyllis Nagy’s wonderful adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s once-scandalous love story translates brilliantly to the big screen and director Todd Haynes’ exquisite filmmaking has done terrific justice to a seminal novel.”

Carol is produced by Elizabeth Karlsen and Stephen Woolley of Number 9 Films alongside Christine Vachon of Killer Films. Carol was developed by Film4 who also co-financed the film and is produced in association with Larkhark Films Limited, for STUDIOCANAL, Hanway Films, Goldcrest, Dirty Films, and InFilm. Executive Producers are Tessa Ross, Dorothy Berwin, Thorsten Schumacher, Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein, Danny Perkins, Cate Blanchett, Andrew Upton and Robert Jolliffe; and is co-produced by Gwen BialicSTUDIOCANAL will release the film in cinemas nationwide in the UK on 27 November 2015The Weinstein Company has scheduled Carol for a December 18 release in the U.S.

The 59th BFI London Film Festival in partnership with American Express® runs from Wednesday 7 OctoberSunday 18 October 2015. The full program for the Festival will be announced on Tuesday 1 September 2015.

OSCAR 2015 NEWS: NEW PRESENTERS ADDED

JASON BATEMAN, IDRIS ELBA, ANSEL ELGORT, NICOLE KIDMAN, LIAM NEESON, GWYNETH PALTROW AND CHANNING TATUM TO PRESENT AT 87TH OSCARS®

Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, Ansel Elgort, Nicole Kidman, Liam Neeson, Gwyneth Paltrow and Channing Tatum has been added to the list of presenters for this year’s Oscars to be hosted by Neil Patrick Harris and airing on Sunday, February 22, live on ABC.

Bateman appeared in the Best Picture Oscar®- nominated films “Up in the Air” (2009) and “Juno” (2007). Most recently Bateman starred in the “Horrible Bosses” (2011 and 2014) franchise, “This Is Where I Leave You” (2014), and “Bad Words” (2013), Bateman’s directorial debut.  He is currently working on “Untitled Joel Edgerton Project” and recently wrapped production of “The Family Fang,” his second directorial effort in which he also stars.

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Elba most recently starred in the 2014 thriller “No Good Deed.” His other film roles include “28 Weeks Later” (2007), “Thor” (2011), “Pacific Rim” (2013) and “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” (2013). He has been nominated for four Emmy Awards®, including three for Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie for “Luther” (2010). Elba will next be seen in “Beasts of No Nation.”

Elgort made his film debut in 2013’s “Carrie” and followed up with three more films in 2014: “The Fault in Our Stars,” “Divergent” and “Men, Women & Children.” He will next be seen in the sequel “The Divergent Series: Insurgent.”

Kidman won an Oscar for Actress in a Leading Role for “The Hours” (2002) and was nominated for her leading roles in “Moulin Rouge” (2001) and “Rabbit Hole” (2010). Her other credits include “Dead Calm” (1989), “Far and Away” (1992), “Eyes Wide Shut” (1999), “Cold Mountain” (2003) and “The Golden Compass” (2007). Her upcoming films include “Lion” and “The Secret in Their Eyes.”

Neeson received an Oscar nomination for Actor in a Leading Role for his performance as the title character in “Schindler’s List” (1993). Other film roles include “The Dead Pool” (1988), “Husbands and Wives” (1992), “Michael Collins” (1996), “Love Actually” (2003), “Taken” (2008), “The Grey” (2011) and “Non-Stop” (2014). He will next be seen in “Ted 2” and “Run All Night.”

Paltrow is an Oscar winner for her leading role in “Shakespeare in Love” (1998).  She has starred in such films as “Great Expectations” (1998), “The Talented Mr. Ripley” (1999), and “The Royal Tenenbaums” (2001) and most recently the “Iron Man” franchise (2008, 2010 and 2013).

Tatum, who currently stars in the sci-fi feature “Jupiter Ascending,” appeared in last year’s “22 Jump Street” (2014), “Foxcatcher” (2014) and “The Lego Movie” (2014).  His previous credits include “White House Down” (2013), “Magic Mike” (2012) and “21 Jump Street” (2012).  He will star in “Magic Mike XXL” later this year.

Previously announced presenters and performers include:

Presenters:

Ben Affleck, Jennifer Aniston, Cate Blanchett, Jessica Chastain, Marion Cotillard, Benedict Cumberbatch, Viola Davis, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Chris Evans, Kevin Hart, Josh Hutcherson, Scarlett Johansson, Dakota Johnson, Jennifer Lopez, Jared Leto, Shirley MacLaine, Matthew McConaughey, Sienna Miller, Chloë Grace Moretz, Eddie Murphy, Lupita Nyong’o, David Oyelowo, Chris Pine, Chris Pratt, Margot Robbie, Zoe Saldana, Octavia Spencer, Meryl Streep, Miles Teller, John Travolta, Kerry Washington, Naomi Watts, Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon.

Performers:

Jack Black, Common, Jennifer Hudson, Lady Gaga, Anna Kendrick, John Legend, Adam Levine with Maroon 5, Tim McGraw, Rita Ora and Tegan and Sara with The Lonely Island.

The 87th Oscars will be held on Sunday, February 22, 2015, at the Dolby Theatre® at Hollywood & Highland Center® in Hollywood, and will be televised live on the ABC Television Network at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT.

 

ADAM LEVINE TO PERFORM AT THE OSCARS

Grammy®-winning  singer, songwriter and actor Adam Levine will perform the Oscar®-nominated song “Lost Stars” at the 87th Oscars, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, will air on Sunday, February 22, live on ABC.

Adam Levine is an exceptional and dynamic artist. We’re thrilled to have him make his Oscars stage debut this year,” said Zadan and Meron.

Lost Stars,” written by Gregg Alexander and Danielle Brisebois for the film “Begin Again,” is nominated for Original Song. The four other nominated songs are “Everything Is Awesome” from “The Lego Movie,” “Glory” from “Selma,” “Grateful” from “Beyond the Lights” and “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” from “Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me.”

Levine is the lead singer for the group Maroon 5, which has received three Grammy® Awards, two for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals (2005 and 2007) and one for Best New Artist (2004). Levine made his feature film acting debut in “Begin Again,” which is directed by John Carney and also stars Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo.

OSCAR® WINNERS BLANCHETT, LETO, MCCONAUGHEY AND NYONG’O TO RETURN AS PRESENTERS AT 87TH OSCARS®

Cate Blanchett, Jared Leto, Matthew McConaughey and Lupita Nyong’o, last year’s Oscar winners in the leading actress, supporting actor and supporting actress categories, will return to present at this year’s Oscars, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, will air on Sunday, February 22, live on ABC.

The great tradition of having the previous year’s Oscar-winning best actors and actresses in all 4 categories happily continues this year with the amazing quartet of Cate, Jared, Matthew and Lupita.  We’re thrilled to have them back,” says Zadan and Meron.

Blanchett has been nominated for six Oscars and has won two, including last year’s award for “Blue Jasmine.” Her previous win was for Actress in a Supporting Role for the 2004 film “The Aviator.” Blanchett also received leading actress nominations for “Elizabeth” (1998) and “Elizabeth: The Golden Age” (2007), and supporting actress nominations for “Notes on a Scandal” (2006) and “I’m Not There” (2007).

Last year, Leto won the Oscar for Actor in a Supporting Role and McConaughey for Actor in a Leading Role, both for “Dallas Buyer’s Club.” Nyong’o took home the Oscar for Actress in a Supporting Role for “12 Years a Slave.”

“LET IT GO” OSCAR®-WINNING TEAM KRISTEN ANDERSON-LOPEZ AND ROBERT LOPEZ WRITE ORIGINAL MUSICAL NUMBER FOR OSCAR HOST NEIL PATRICK HARRIS

Oscar host Neil Patrick Harris and show producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron shared that the Oscar-winning songwriting team from “Frozen,” Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, are in the midst of writing an original multimedia, musical sequence, “Moving Pictures,” which Harris will perform on Oscar Sunday, February 22, on ABC. Harris made the initial announcement on his Twitter account, posting the network’s first tweet using its new mobile video camera feature.

On the heels of the international success of last year’s “Frozen” and their Oscar for “Let It Go,” we couldn’t be happier to have Kristen and Bobby Lopez write an incredibly special song for Neil Patrick Harris and special guests to perform this year on the Oscar stage,” said Zadan and Meron. “YouTube, get ready!

We love the Oscars® and have always been huge Neil Patrick Harris fans, so when he asked us to write him a song for this year’s show we said, ‘Yes!’ before he could finish the sentence – it’s possible he may have been asking us for something else,” said the Lopezes. “We are having so much fun collaborating, and have even enjoyed weaving our experience as Oscar nominees into the song.”

Lopez is an Oscar, Tony®, Emmy®, Grammy® winning songwriter and co-creator of the worldwide smash-hit Broadway musicals “Avenue Q” and “The Book of Mormon.” Anderson-Lopez in an Oscar-winning songwriter for film and television, who along with her husband, co-wrote songs for “Frozen” and “Winnie the Pooh.” The pair won an Oscar for original song for “Let It Go” from the 2013 Oscar-winning animated film “Frozen,” and are currently working on music for the upcoming stage musical “Up Here.”

OSCAR® NOMINEES COMMON AND JOHN LEGEND TO PERFORM TOGETHER AT THE OSCARS®

Musical artists Common and John Legend will perform their Oscar®-nominated song “Glory” at the 87th Oscars. “Glory,” written by John Stephens (a.k.a. John Legend) and Lonnie Lynn (a.k.a. Common) for the film “Selma,” is nominated for Original Song.

Common and John Legend are artists who have always lifted our spirits and made us think,” said Zadan and Meron. “The Oscar stage is that much more profound because of their presence and we welcome them.”

Common won a Grammy® in 2002 for Best R&B Song for “Love Of My Life (An Ode To Hip Hop),” and in 2007 for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for “Southside,” with Kanye West. His many acting credits include the films “American Gangster,” “Wanted,” “Date Night” and “Selma,” in which he plays the role of Civil Rights leader James Bevel.

Legend is a nine time Grammy-winning singer/songwriter.  His critically acclaimed debut album, “Get Lifted,”scored multiple Grammy Awards in 2006, including Best R&B Album, Best New Artist and Best Male R&B Vocal Performance.  The follow up was the platinum-selling “Once Again,” which garnered a Best Male R&B Performance nod.  Legend’s most recent highly acclaimed fourth studio album, “Love in the Future,” scored two Grammy  nominations and features his break out hit, “All of Me,” which is his highest selling and charting song to date and also earned a 2015 Grammy Award nomination for Best Pop Solo Performance.

Singer, songwriter and actress Rita Ora will perform the Oscar®-nominated song “Grateful” at the 87th Oscars, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, will air on Sunday, February 22, live on ABC.

Grateful,” written by Diane Warren for the film “Beyond the Lights,” is nominated for Original Song. This marks Warren’s seventh Oscar nomination in the category. Ora dominated the U.K. charts with her first and certified platinum album “Ora” (2012), which included the number one singles “R.I.P.,” “How We Do (Party)” and “Hot Right Now.” Currently featured on the smash single “Black Widow,” with fellow superstar Iggy Azalea, Ora is readying her second full-length album, to be released this spring.  She will appear in a number of upcoming films, including the highly anticipated “50 Shades of Grey” and Jake Gyllenhaal’s “Southpaw” to be released in July.

COUNTRY SUPERSTAR TIM MCGRAW TO PERFORM FOR GLEN CAMPBELL AT THE OSCARS®

Grammy®-winning singer, songwriter and actor Tim McGraw will perform the Oscar®-nominated song “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” for Glen Campbell at the 87th Oscars, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, will air on Sunday, February 22, live on ABC. In addition to his three Grammy Awards, 14 ACM Awards, 11 CMA Awards, 10 AMA Awards, McGraw has numerous film acting credits including “The Blind Side,”  “Friday Night Lights,” “Country Strong” and the upcoming “Tomorrowland.”

We couldn’t think of anyone better than Tim McGraw to properly celebrate  Oscar nominee, Glen Campbell.  Tim is the consummate country artist and will bring a bit of Nashville to the Oscars stage,” says Zadan and Meron

I’m Not Gonna Miss You,” written by Campbell and Julian Raymond for the documentary feature “Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me,” is nominated for Original Song

I’m honored to be asked to sing this powerful song from one of the true legends of the music industry,” said McGraw.

JACK BLACK TO PERFORM AT THE OSCARS®

The versatile actor, singer and comedian Jack Black will make a special appearance at the 87th Oscars, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, will air on Sunday, February 22, live on ABC. Black has starred in such films as “High Fidelity,” “Shallow Hal,” “School of Rock,” “King Kong,” and “Tropic Thunder,” and is voicing the title character in “Kung Fu Panda 3,” his third turn in the animated feature series. He also is the lead singer and guitarist of the comedy rock duo Tenacious D, which he formed in 1994 with Kyle Gass.  Black has made three previous appearances on the Oscars, most recently as a presenter at the 81st AcademyAwards.

Jack Black is a complete original comic voice and we’re beyond thrilled that he has agreed to join the Oscars show in a very special sequence” says Zadan and Meron.

The 87th Oscars will be held on Sunday, February 22, 2015, at the Dolby Theatre® at Hollywood & Highland Center® in Hollywood, and will be televised live on the ABC Television Network at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT. The Oscars, produced by Zadan and Meron, also will be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.

 

19TH ANNUAL CRITICS’ CHOICE MOVIE AWARDS (2014) – BEST PICTURE: 12 YEARS A SLAVE

NEWLY-MINTED 2014 ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATED ACTRESSES, ACTORS AND DIRECTORS WON BIG

“12 YEARS A SLAVE” NAMED BEST PICTURE AT 19TH ANNUAL CRITICS’ CHOICE MOVIE AWARDS

“GRAVITY” ROCKETS TO A RECORD SEVEN WINS

“AMERICAN HUSTLE” FOLLOWS WITH FOUR

Glamorous Porsche Vehicles Displayed at Critics’ Choice Movie Awards

Porsche 911 and Panamera S E-Hybrid make red carpet appearance at Los Angeles awards show

Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts arrives at the 19th annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards at the Barker Hangar on Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014, in Santa Monica, Calif. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts arrives at the 19th annual Critics’ Choice Movie Awards at the Barker Hangar on Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014, in Santa Monica, Calif. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

The Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA) announced the winners for the 19th Annual Critics’ Choice Movie Awards last night, live from the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, Calif. The show aired on The CW Network at 8:00PM ET/PT and was hosted by Aisha Tyler. A live pre-show aired in various local markets before the awards ceremony. Stars walking the red carpet mingled with the Porsche 911 and Panamera S E-Hybrid, debuted by Porsche Cars North America, Inc., the exclusive importer of Porsche vehicles in the U.S. and the official sponsor of the 2014 ceremony.

Since its inception in 1995, the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards has been a star-studded bellwether event of the movie awards season. Among the night’s attendees were Barkhad Abdi, Jensen Ackles, Amy Adams, Christina Applegate, Kristen Bell, Cate Blanchett, Abigail Breslin, Daniel Bruhl, Sandra Bullock, Jessica Chastain, Kristin Chenoweth, Steve Coogan, Bradley Cooper, Chris Cooper, Alfonso Cuarón, Julie Delpy, Will Forte, Bruce Dern, Leonardo DiCaprio, Chiwetel Ejiofor,  Adele Exarchopoulos, Cuba Gooding Jr., Bill Hader, Tom Hanks, Ethan Hawke, Jonah Hill, Liam James, Spike Jonze, Sir Ben Kingsley, Brie Larson, Jared Leto, Juliette Lewis, Richard Linklater, Nia Long, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Kellan Lutz, James Marsden, Melissa McCarthy, Matthew McConaughey, Steve McQueen, Dermot Mulroney, Sophie Nelisse, Lupita Nyong’o, Bob Odenkirk, David O’Russell, Jared Padalecki, Jeremy Renner, Margot Robbie, Julia Roberts, Sam Rockwell, Julia Roberts, Seth Rogen, Martin Scorsese, Tye Sheridan, Ian Somerhalder, Kevin Spacey, June Squibb, Meryl Streep, Emma Thompson, Mark Wahlberg, Isaiah Washington, Marlon Wayans, Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey. Continue reading

THE MONUMENTS MEN IN THE OFFICIAL PROGRAMME OF THE 64TH BERLINALE

The international premiere of George Clooney’s dramatic adventure The Monuments Men will be presented in the official programme of the 64th Berlin International Film Festival.

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Over five million cultural assets stolen by the Nazis were returned to their countries of origin in the years following World War II. As the recent discovery in Munich demonstrates, the art theft of that time is as current as ever. The Monuments Men finally gives this little-known subject a worldwide audience,” says Berlinale Director Dieter Kosslick.

Still missing are thousands and thousands of cultural assets and documents worth billions of dollars.The Monuments Men touches on a subject matter that re-surfaced with the discovery of 1,400 works of art in a Munich apartment. The collection of found objects allegedly includes masterpieces by Marc Chagall, Max Liebermann, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Oskar Kokoschka, Edvard Munch, Emil Nolde and Albrecht Dürer.

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A German-American co-production, The Monuments Men is based on a true story and focuses on an unlikely World War II platoon, tasked by the Allies with going into Germany to rescue artistic masterpieces from Nazi thieves and returning them to their rightful owners. It would be an impossible mission: with the art trapped behind enemy lines, and with the German army under orders to destroy everything as the Reich fell, how could these guys – seven museum directors, curators, and art historians, all more familiar with Michelangelo than the M-1 gun – possibly hope to succeed? But as the Monuments Men, as they were called, found themselves in a race against time to avoid the destruction of 1000 years of culture, they would risk their lives to protect and defend mankind’s greatest achievements.

Two-time Academy Award winner George Clooney has been a frequent guest of the Berlinale as a producer, actor and director. The Monuments Men will be his second directorial appearance in the official programme after Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (Berlinale 2003).

Director, screenwriter, producer and actor George Clooney has assembled a high-calibre ensemble for The Monuments Men: Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban, Hugh Bonneville and Cate Blanchett. The screenplay is written by George Clooney and Grant Heslov, who as screenwriters have twice been nominated for an Academy Award. The film is based on the book by Robert M. Edsel with Bret Witter, and is produced by Grant Heslov and George Clooney, who won last year’s Oscar for Best Picture (Argo).

The Monuments Men is a co-production by Obelisk Productions Limited and Studio Babelsberg. Shooting took place at Studio Babelsberg, in the Goslar region and in Berlin, among other locations. 20th Century Fox, who has international rights, will release The Monuments Men in Germany on February 20, 2014. Sony has the US rights and will release the film on February 7.

Organizers of The Sydney Festival Announces the 2014 Program

 

Every January, Sydney Festival (January 9-26, www.sydneyfestival.org.au) enlivens and transforms Sydney (Australia) with a bold cultural celebration based on the highest quality art and big ideas. The program is kaleidoscopic in its diversity, from burlesque circus to New York rap to Russian theatre; from contemporary dance to family programs to traditional Indigenous arts practice. In all, the program comprises around 300 performances and around 100 events performed by over 1,000 artists in at least 20 venues each year. Inclusive programming, a broad range of free events and accessible pricing policies for the ticketed shows means that Sydney Festival is open to all, welcoming Sydneysiders and visitors from wherever they live. Tickets to all performances are available on the day for only $25 at the Tix for Next to Nix booth in Martin Place in the heart of Sydney’s CBD.

There’s also the famous free concerts in The Domain or Parramatta. Summer Sounds has featured the sounds of Brazil, Gypsies, New Orleans and Mali and is followed the next weekend by the orchestral power of the Sydney Symphony. Throughout January the Festival Garden is home to the Spiegeltent with a captivating program of burlesque and music which makes the most of the summer nights in the atmospheric setting of Hyde Park and Paradiso at Town Hall resonates with the energy of bands and DJs until late at night.

More than any other cultural event, Sydney Festival defines Sydney’s personality. For over three decades they have presented international artists who guarantee headlines, and whose presence in Sydney adds to the Festival’s buzz and prestige. Names like Björk, Brian Wilson, Grace Jones, Manu Chao, Elvis Costello, AR Rahman, Cate Blanchett, Ralph Fiennes, Robert Lepage, Peter Sellars and Sir Ian McKellen alongside some of the world’s great companies – Wayne McGregor’s Random Dance, Cheek by Jowl, Gate Theatre and the Schaubühne Berlin to name only a few – share the Festival with the most exciting artists and companies in Australia.

Sydney Festival’s audacious contemporary programming positions it at the forefront of arts practice in Australia and up there as one of the most wonderful festivals in the world. Sydney Festival relies on a mix of government funding; corporate, media and production partnerships; as well as philanthropic giving

Festival Director Lieven Bertels and the Sydney Festival team revealed the full program for Sydney Festival 2014, an explosion of exceptional theatre, dance, music, visual arts, film and more that will bring the harbour city to life from January 9-26.

Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman’s 15-metre high yellow Rubber Duck made quite the splash in Darling Harbour, so it's back for the 2014 Festival.

Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman’s 15-metre high yellow Rubber Duck made quite the splash in Darling Harbour, so it’s back for the 2014 Festival.

Sydneysiders and visitors know Sydney Festival is one of the most wonderful summer festivals in the world – a claim underpinned by the city’s lustre and charisma, making it an ideal showcase for the world’s great artists.

The Sydney Festival 2014 is comprised of 104 events, a staggering 21 of which are free. With 372 performances across 33 indoor and outdoor venues, Sydney Festival 2014 features 722 artists from 80 companies across 17 countries. With 10 world premieres, 4 Australian premieres and 13 Australian exclusives, summer in our beautiful city is absolutely not to be missed.

If you are really into your arts, Sydney Festival will not disappoint, with opera, dance, theatre and music acts from across Australia and the world.” says Festival Director, Lieven Bertels.

Against a backdrop of some of the world’s greatest theatre and dance, new Australian works of magnitude and cultural importance dominate this year’s theatre program. The world premiere of Black Diggers (directed by Wesley Enoch and written by Tom Wright) unfolds the untold stories of 1000 Indigenous soldiers who fought in World War One, whilst Michael Kantor and Tom E. Lewis’ indigenous re-working of King Lear in The Shadow King has recently premiered to a rousing reception by audiences in Melbourne, Australia.

Internationally acclaimed choreographer Shaun Parker returns to the Sydney Festival with the world premiere of Am I, whilst Halina Reijn performs the lead role in the retelling of the 1927 monologue by Jean Cocteau in the voyeuristic La Voix Humaine. Philip Glass presents a live score to Godfrey Reggio’s Visitors to follow its premiere at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival and after a five month sell out season on London’s Southbank LIMBO returns to heat up the 1920s Speigeltent in the wildly expanded Festival Village.

A main highlight of the 2014 program is Henry Purcell’s great romantic tragedy Dido & Aeneas in Sasha Waltz’s wondrous reimagining of the great opera, featuring stunning choreography, a prologue performed in a giant fish tank underwater, and celebrated baroque orchestra Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin. Reigning queen of contemporary German dance-theatre, Sasha Waltz, stages a radical re-telling of Henry Purcell’s Baroque masterpiece, Dido & Aeneas. The oldest love story in English opera, this tragic tale of unrequited love is brought to life by sixty exceptional dancers, singers and musicians at the Sydney Lyric from 16 to 21 January 2014. Dido & Aeneas is set to be as big an operatic sensation in the 2014 Sydney Festival as Semele Walk was in 2013.

Waltz casts both a dancer and singer in each role and tells the story of Dido, Queen of Carthage, who reluctantly falls in love with the shipwrecked Aeneas. Later, Dido is brutally rejected when he is deceived into leaving her, and she takes her own life.

Dido and Aeneas

Dido and Aeneas

As it’s the sea that brings Aeneas to Dido and takes him away again, it is not surprising that Waltz uses water as a central motif in her realisation of the myth. Waltz opens the show in a visually arresting fashion – an aquatic prologue, where a giant water tank, almost spanning the entire width of the stage, is raised several metres off the floor. From a ladder, dancers climb to the top of the tank to gaze and point at the audience, and then plunge in ducking, diving and weaving their steps, staying submerged for impossibly long times. Continue reading