On the occasion of our 22nd birthday, we’re returning to Y2K and screening one (or two) films from each year we’ve been serving as Sydney’s home of curated cinema. We’ve handpicked over 30 titles – a mix of our all-time and recent favourites – to be screened across four months.
Whether you’re a die-hard regular or first-time visitor, this series is an invitation to visit our beautiful 340-seat theatre and see a movie on the big screen.
For 22 years now – every Wednesday and Sunday like clockwork – the Art Gallery Cinema has offered audiences access to feature films, documentaries and shorts from across the globe. As commercial theatres continue to shutter, we’ve remained a bastion for publicly accessible, critically engaged film culture in Sydney, a UNESCO City of Film.
Feeling 22 offers a countdown of millennium-defining films by key new voices such as Bong Joon-ho, Lucrecia Martel and Jordan Peele, alongside landmarks by acclaimed directors including David Lynch and Lynne Ramsay.
The series spans coming-of-age tales, comedies, revisionist westerns and a surreal pop musical. Along the way, we’ll encounter the transformations of the digital turn, the rise of powerhouse new film industries across Asia, and a range of epoch-defining issues that have dominated 21st-century filmmaking.
Feeling 22 is not a ‘best of’ list, but rather a selection of films – some canonical, others underseen revelations – that expresses our playful programming ethos. Unlike an algorithm, we believe in the power of montage and discovery, of bringing together works that aren’t alike to create wayward film histories and new conversations.
Join us on a trip through the 2000s, as we mark our two-decade anniversary and celebrate our commitment to introducing Sydney audiences to cinema’s visionaries – past, present and future.
Feeling 22 Celebrating two decades of Art Gallery Cinema
Art Gallery of NSW
At the beginning of each month, we release online tickets for that month’s sessions. Tickets are also available at the information desk and outside the Domain Theatre from one hour before each screening.
Mundane historyDir Anocha Suwichakornpong 2009 (Thailand)
78 min 35mm-to-digital Colour Unclassified 15+
Phakpoom Surapongsanurak, Arkaney Cherkam, Paramej Noiam
Thai with English subtitles
One of the debuts of the decade, Mundane history merges the corporeal and the cosmic to mesmerising effect. The film begins straightforwardly enough, as nurse Pun takes a job caring for Ake, a Bangkok teen coming to terms with his paralysis after an accident. But as the two men form a friendship, the director detonates her own film, blasting open a dreamscape where flashes of Thai history meet psychedelic supernovas. These associative leaps take place every 15 minutes – a narrative structure inspired by the cyclical nature of recent Thai politics, where coup d’états have tended to transpire every 15 years. Like a snake shedding its skin, Suwichakornpong’s shapeshifting film heralded the arrival of a new visionary in contemporary art cinema. In her words, ‘Make a punk film. Let’s not do it the way that it should be.’
PoetryDir Lee Chang-dong 2010 (South Korea)
139 min 35mm-to-digital Colour Unclassified 18+
Yoon Jeong-hee, Lee David
Korean with English subtitles
Winner of the Best Screenplay Award at Cannes 2010, Lee Chang-dong’s (Burning) exquisite drama features a tour-de-force performance by legendary South Korean actress Yoon Jeong-hee. She plays Mi-ja, an older woman who makes a shocking discovery about her grandson while grappling with the onset of Alzheimer’s. ‘To write poetry, you must see well. The most important thing in life is seeing.’ A chance encounter with a community poetry class transforms Mi-ja into a budding artist. With a beginner’s sense of wonder (and an excellent collection of bucket hats), Mi-ja attends to beauty amidst the ravages of language loss and a violent, patriarchal society. ‘An extraordinary vision of human empathy.’ – Manohla Dargis, The New York Times.
Content warning: contains themes of sexual violence and suicide
Sunday 21 August 2022 2–4.20pm
PariahDir Dee Rees 2011 (USA)
90 min 35mm-to-digital Colour Unclassified 15+
Adepero Oduye, Pernell Walker
We launch into the 2010s at a lesbian club in Brooklyn. Khia’s ‘My neck, my back’ drops. A young woman, Alike (Oduye), is radiant on the dancefloor. Dee Rees broke new ground with Pariah, a queer coming-of-age story brimming with the talents of a new generation of Black creatives. Cinematographer Bradford Young’s carefully-calibrated lighting and dynamic colour palette charts Alike’s journey of self-discovery in splashes of magenta and cyan. Pariah kickstarted a new wave of mainstream Black LGBTQI+ cinema, and served as a launch pad for Rees who has since directed Oscar-nominated Mudbound. In 2021, Pariah was re-released by Criterion, making Rees the first African American woman to enter the influential collection.
MargaretDir Kenneth Lonergan 2011 (USA)
196 min 35mm-to-digital Colour Rated MA15+
Anna Paquin, Matt Damon, J. Smith-Cameron, Kieran Culkin
Film maudit (noun): cursed film. See also: Margaret – a film shot in 2005, subject to a bitter editing dispute, three law suits, intervention by Martin Scorsese who called it a masterpiece, limited theatrical release, a viral campaign by critics (#TeamMargaret) to reinstate it on cinema screens, and eventual recognition as a wonder of 21st-century cinema. The film radiates out from a single event: a bus accident inadvertently caused by Lisa (Paquin), a Manhattan high-school student whose mission to make sense of the trauma interconnects multiple lives and private dramas across New York. Margaret brilliantly distils the righteousness of being a teenager and the gradual disabuse of these egocentric pretensions. In Lonergan’s words, ‘the world is too big to have it improved, or affected by you – that’s something that most of us find out.’ Screens in the director’s cut.
*Note early start time
Sunday 28 August 2022 1.30–4.50pm
Holy motorsDir Leos Carax 2012 (France)
115 min Digital Colour Rated MA15+
Denis Lavant, Eva Mendes, Kylie Minogue
French with English subtitles
If a movie has a standout performance, it may be described as a ‘vehicle’ for a star turn. Holy motors follows a stretch limo as it ferries the extraordinary actor Denis Lavant around Paris. Lavant plays Monsieur Oscar, and the limo is his vehicle to deliver not one but 11 bravura character studies, each proving his renown as one of cinema’s great shapeshifters. In one episode, he performs acrobatics in a black catsuit. In another, Kylie Minogue makes a poignant appearance as his lost love. If there were any doubt this odyssey was a meta-reflection on the possibilities of cinema itself, the film begins with the director dramatising his own re-emergence on the scene (after 13 years without making a film). Carax pries open his bedroom wall to enter a movie theatre, as if after a long sleep. 'It’s a movie that arises after the end of cinema, a phoenix of a new cinema.'– Richard Brody, The New Yorker.
Content warning: contains themes of sexual violence
Computer chessDir Andrew Bujalski 2013 (USA)
92 min HDCam B&W and Colour Rated M
Patrick Riester, Myles Paige
How to capture the strangeness of a world where machines have taken over so much of our lives? Andrew Bujalski lovingly recreates the awkward early days of personal computing – all blinking C.R.T. cursors and conspiratorial chatter between endearing nerds – with dry humour and a keen eye for historical detail. Shot on a vintage Sony AVC 3260 video camera, this off-kilter comedy returns to a time before Siri and Alexa, when the promises and perils of artificial intelligence were first being debated in a dingy roadside motel. The setting is a 1980s computer chess tournament. A group of programmers prepare to square off against their own chunky machines. Before long, the computers seem to gain consciousness, and the film – almost like it’s developed a virus – begins to glitch. ‘Bracingly idiosyncratic and close to perfect.’ – Amy Taubin, Film Comment.
Dir Sturtevant 2013 (USA)
2 mins Digital Unclassified 12+
Sunday 4 September 2022 2–3.35pm
TimbuktuDir Abderrahmane Sissako 2014 (Mali)
96 min Digital Colour Unclassified 15+
Ibrahim Ahmed, Toulou Kiki, Layla Walet Mohamed
Hassaniya Arabic, Tamasheq, Bambara and French with English subtitles
Mauritania-born, Mali-raised director Aberrahmane Sissako’s acclaimed Timbuktu portrays a city under siege. Islamic jihadists with a strict interpretation of sharia law descend on the historic centre of Timbuktu. ‘No smoking! No listening to music! No soccer!’ Militants on motorbikes roam laneways once bustling with communal life. In the nearby dunes, Tuareg shepherd Kidane (Ahmed), his wife Satima (Kiki) and daughter Toya (Mohamed) must choose between remaining on their homelands or escaping into exile. Heightened by Amine Bouhafa’s lyric score and Sofiane El Fani’s sweeping desert vistas, Timbuktu is a protest film that’s also a work of startling beauty, warmth and wit. ‘Stunning. Sissako is a master.’ – Variety.
Wednesday 7 September 2022 2–3.40pm
Wednesday 7 September 2022 7.15–8.55pm
Mad Max: Fury RoadDir George Miller 2015 (Australia)
120 min Digital Colour Rated MA15+
Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron
‘Fang it!’ George Miller’s action extravaganza is a blast of pyrotechnics in a world deranged by a shortage of oil and water. Fury Road sees Max (Hardy) team up with Furiosa (Theron) and her gang of warriors on an epic convoy-chase through sandstorms and salt-flats, canyons and a mythic Citadel. This post-apocalyptic landscape was set to be filmed in Broken Hill (NSW), however when heavy rains caused a sea of wildflowers, the shoot was shifted to Namibia. Likened to a ‘fetish party in the middle of the desert,’ cast and crew spent 138 days working in a huge tent city, blowing up machinery and staging high-speed crashes (in writer Brendan McCarthy’s words, ‘There’s something about George Miller doing vehicular destruction that rises to the level of art.’) Miller combusted the CGI mould of the modern superhero spectacle, offering a punk alternative to the franchise formula which dominated cinema in the 2010s.
Sunday 11 September 2022 2–4pm
Yourself and yoursDir Hong Sang-soo 2016 (South Korea)
86 min Digital Colour Unclassified 15+
Lee Yoo-young, Kim Joo-hyuk
Korean with English subtitles
Sorry, have we met? A sense of déjà vu (set to sunny muzak) is a hallmark of the Hong Sang-soo universe. This breezy rom-com begins when a painter, Young-soo (Kim), breaks up with his girlfriend, Min-jung (Lee), after learning that she’s gone on a bender with an unknown man. The next day, Min-jung – or a woman who may be her twin – searches for Mr Right amidst a succession of men who claim to know her. Departing from the larger-than-life thrills of recent K-pop culture, Yourself and yours revels in the everyday minutia of modern dating. You won’t find grand romance, but a carousel of awkward dalliances and intimate embarrassments. Initially unassuming, a Hong film rewards attentiveness. It’s only once scenarios repeat and characters reappear in new guises, that one grasps the sophistication of his storytelling. ‘Fresh and enchanting, by turns delicate, romantic, mysterious, witty and crushing.’ – LA Times.
Wednesday 14 September 2022 2–3.30pm
Wednesday 14 September 2022 7.15–8.45pm
Marlina the murderer in four actsDir Mouly Surya 2017 (Indonesia)
93 min Digital Colour Unclassified 15+
Marsha Timothy, Dea Panendra
Indonesian with English subtitles
Indonesia’s first feminist western unfolds against the big skies and desert vistas of the island Sumba. In an isolated farmhouse, young widow Marlina (Timothy) is attacked by a gang of bandits. She defends herself and sets out on a journey of retribution with a sword in one hand and a severed head in the other. Shot in stunning Cinemascope with a Morricone-like score, this slow-burn revenge fantasy was inspired by the island’s own folklore and village queens, alongside Akira Kurosawa’s samurai films and Jim Jarmusch’s Dead man (1995). What emerges is a provocative parable of resilience in a rural patriarchal society. Critics brought down the house cheering for its avenging heroine at the film’s premiere at Cannes. Mouly Surya belongs to a new wave of Indonesian filmmakers reinventing familiar genres from a southern perspective including Kamila Andini, Nia Dinata and Edwin.
Content warning: contains themes of sexual violence
Sunday 18 September 2022 2–3.35pm
Sweet CountryDir Warwick Thornton 2017 (Australia)
112 min Digital Colour MA15+
Hamilton Morris, Natassia Gorey-Furber, Tremayne and Trevon Doolan, Bryan Brown
Northern Territory, 1929. Stockman Sam (Warlpiri actor Hamilton Morris) kills a white station owner in self-defence, and escapes with wife Lizzie (Gorey-Furber) to the MacDonnell Ranges. Pursued by a posse of vigilantes, the chase winds across the hinterlands of Alice Springs where Thornton grew up. Working with son Dylan River, the pair’s knowledge of the region’s light and weather results in majestic cinematography seared with heat haze and blood-red dust. Thornton describes trying to ‘make the landscape like an actual character, alive, rather than just rock and tree. There’s an energy flowing through everything, and it rises.’ Inspired by a true story of injustice on the 1920s Central Australian frontier, Sweet Country confronts a national history of land grabs and violence in the form of a thrilling neo-western.
Wednesday 21 September 2022 2–3.55pm
Wednesday 21 September 2022 7.15–9.10pm
Get outDir Jordan Peele 2017 (USA)
104 min Digital Colour Rated MA 15+
Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams
Jordan Peele reimagines evil. You won’t see fangs or axes. You’ll see a cup of tea, slowly stirred. This foe welcomes you into their home with an easy smile and an assurance, ‘I would have voted for Obama a third time if I could’. Blending social satire with horror, Peele’s story opens with a photographer, Chris, and his girlfriend preparing for a long weekend at her parents. ‘Do they know I’m Black?’ Chris asks. What follows not only skewers the empty platitudes of white liberals but destroys the myth of a ‘post-racial’ United States. In Peele’s words: ‘It was very important to me to just get the entire audience in touch in some ways with the fears inherent [in] being Black in this country. Part of being Black in this country, and I presume being any minority, is constantly being told that we’re seeing racism where there just isn’t racism.’
Sunday 25 September 2022 2–3.45pm
TERROR NULLIUSDir Soda Jerk 2018 (Australia)
54 min Digital Colour Unclassified 15+
Part political satire, eco-horror, and road movie, TERROR NULLIUS is a political revenge fable courtesy of Australia’s preeminent rogue archivists, Soda Jerk. Stitching together samples from across half a century of local film and television – from Mad Max and The adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the desert to Skippy the bush kangaroo – the artists’ revisionist remix offers an incendiary unwriting of Australian national mythologies. The apocalyptic desert camps of Mad Max 2 become sites of refugee detention, feminist motorcycle gangs rule the highways, and flesh-eating sheep are recast as anti-colonial insurgents.
Wednesday 28 September 2022 2–2.55pm
Wednesday 28 September 2022 7.15–8.10pm
An elephant sitting stillDir Hu Bo 2018 (China)
230 min Digital Colour Unclassified 15+
Zhang Yu, Peng Yuchang
Mandarin with English subtitles
Hu Bo’s first film arrived on the festival circuit like a bolt from the blue. Here was an astonishing work of contemporary cinema by a 29-year-old director who had tragically taken his own life before its release. Over the course of nearly four hours, Hu transposes the tale of Jason and the Argonauts to coal country in northern China. From dawn to dusk, teenager Wei Bu (Peng) – who injures a school bully by accident – crosses paths with a classmate, an elderly neighbour, and the bully’s older brother. Desperate for escape, each character sets their sights on the city of Manzhouli, where a fabled circus elephant sits still, indifferent to taunts. The creature is a symbol of quiet protest in a debut that howls with rage against a cruel, corrupt society. ‘One of the greatest recent films... a masterwork of a rare sort.' – The New Yorker.
*Note early start time
Content warning: contains reference to suicide
Sunday 2 October 2022 12–3.50pm
Portrait of a lady on fireDir Céline Sciamma 2019 (France)
121 mins Digital Colour Rated M
Noémie Merlant, Adèle Haenel
French with English subtitles
Portrait of a lady on fire traces a love affair between Héloïse (Haenel), an 18th-century noblewoman, and Marianne (Merlant), the artist tasked with painting her portrait. Furtive glances build to rapturous touch as Marianne attempts to surreptitiously capture the likeness of her unwilling subject. ‘Is that how you see me?’ Héloïse’s incredulous response to Marianne’s first painting reverberates across a film which interrogates the power and erotics of seeing and being seen. Described by Céline Sciamma as a ‘manifesto about the female gaze,’ Portrait dispenses with many of cinema’s usual mainstays: major narrative conflict, a musical score, male characters. Yet it never becomes didactic. Conjuring scenes of women’s experience rarely seen on screen – from a backroom abortion to magic around a bonfire – Sciamma’s film trembles and exalts.
Wednesday 5 October 2022 2–4.05pm
Wednesday 5 October 2022 7.15–9.20pm
This is not a burial it’s a resurrectionDir Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese 2020 (Lesotho)
120 min Digital Colour Unclassified 15+
Mary Twala Mhlongo, Jerry Mofokeng
Sesotho with English subtitles
Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese’s hypnotic feature marks the emergence of a major filmmaker. The late Mary Twala Mhlongo (recognisable from Beyoncé’s blockbuster musical Black is king), gives a career-capping performance as Mantoa, an 80-year-old matriarch who has lived her entire life in the highlands of Lesotho. When news arrives that her son has passed, and her village must relocate to make way for a dam, Mantoa transforms into an unlikely political leader. Each frame vibrates with the force of Mosese’s aesthetic sensibility: exquisite tableaux composed with ravishing primary colours, an oneiric soundscape, and rolling storms that frame his heroine’s electrifying resolve. ‘Extraordinary and otherworldly… weaving in ideas around displacement, collective identity and history, this film takes on almost mythic qualities.’ – The Guardian.
Sunday 9 October 2022 2–4pm
Friends and strangersDir James Vaughan 2021 (Australia)
84 min Digital Colour Rated MA15+
Fergus Wilson, Emma Diaz
A rare ‘micro-budget’ Australian film to gain widespread acclaim on the international festival circuit, James Vaughan’s debut is set against the shimmering backdrop of our harbour town. The film unfolds in vignettes centred around Ray (Wilson), a feckless 20-something who bumbles his way from romantic misfires to bungled employment opportunities. Vaughan’s comedy of manners takes aim at the listlessness of his privileged protagonists, future inheritors of the astounding affluence on display in the eastern suburbs where the film is mostly set. Earning comparisons to the films of Hong Sang-soo and Éric Rohmer, Friends and strangers transplants these directors’ fascination with bourgeois malaise to Australia, where settler millennials blindly drift, vaguely aware they live on stolen land.
Dir Bruce Koussaba 2021 (Australia)
10 min Digital Colour Unclassified 15+
Sophie Teo, Chemone Theys
Wednesday 12 October 2022 2–3.35pm
Wednesday 12 October 2022 7.15–8.50pm
Sunday 16 October 2022 2–4pm