Ivan Sen's 'Mystery Road'.

Ivan Sen’s ‘Mystery Road’. 

Sydney Film Festival has selected Rachel Perkins’ Mabo and Ivan Sen’s Mystery Road for Tribeca Enterprises/YouTube’s free global online film festival, We Are One.

Sydney is just one of the 21 participating festivals in the event, with others including Tribeca, Cannes, Venice, Berlin, Toronto and Sundance.

More than 100 films will screen from this Friday May 29 to June 7 on YouTube, together with talks, VR content and musical performances, all with the aim of raising money for the World Health Organisation’s Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund and local relief partners in each region.

The programming represents over 35 countries and includes 23 narrative and eight documentary features, 57 narrative and 15 documentary short films, 15 archived talks, along with four festival exclusives and five VR programming pieces.

In selecting films to put forward, Sydney Film Festival director Nashen Moodley was challenged by Tribeca to look to films that had an enormous impact at the festival when they premiered, but were not necessarily as well known globally.

Initially, Moodley was worried about how complicated it would be to get filmmakers to agree to stream their film online around the world for free, but in the end, found it worked out very well.

“For me, Mabo and Mystery Road were two fantastic moments in Sydney Film Festival; two very special moments. I love both films… They’re fantastic filmmakers, Rachel Perkins and Ivan Sen,” Moodley tells IF.

“While they’re well-known filmmakers… to create this platform for them to be seen all over the world seemed a very good idea.”

Perkins’ Mabo premiered at the Sydney Film Festival 2012 and depicts the story of Eddie Koiki Mabo — the Torres Strait Islander man whose campaign for Indigenous land rights and High Court case overturned terra nullis. It stars Jimi Bani as Eddie and Deborah Mailman as his wife Bonita, as well as Ewen Leslie, Tom Budge and Miranda Otto.

Mystery Road – the original film by Sen which has spawned a sequel in Goldstone and two spin-off ABC series – premiered at Sydney in 2013, introducing the world to Aaron Pedersen’s Indigenous detective Jay Swan. The film sees Swan return to his lawless, rural hometown to investigate the murder of a teenage girl. Starring alongside Pedersen are Hugo Weaving, Samara Weaving, Ryan Kwanten and Jack Thompson.

Funds raised from the Aussie films will assist the GO Foundation provide educational pathways for Australian Indigenous students through school and beyond following the COVID-19 crisis.

We Are One will also include the world premiere of documentary Ricky Powell: The Individualist, about the titular street photographer and featuring interviews with Natasha Lyonne and LL Cool J; the online premiere of Eeb Allay Ooo!, winner of Mumbai Film Festival’s Golden Gateway Award; and the world premiere of Iron Hammer, a documentary directed by Joan Chen about Chinese Olympic volleyball star Jenny Lang Ping. There are three shorts from Dreamworks Animation: Bilby, Marooned and Bird Karma, while Japanese director Koji Fukada has created a narrative short exclusively for the festival, Yalta Conference Online (working title).

Episodic programming includes the world premiere of Israeli psychological thriller Losing Alice, and And She Could Be Next, a two-part documentary series on the experiences of women of colour running for office, including Stacey Abrams and Rashida Tlaib.

There are a number of curated talks, both archived from past festivals and brand new discussions, featuring Francis Ford Coppola with Steven Soderbergh, Song Kang-ho and Bong Joon-ho, Guillermo del Toro, Jane Campion and Claire Denis.

On We Are One overall, Moodley says: “It’s going to be fantastic. It’s never been done before; it’s the first ever collaboration between these festivals to do something of this nature. Very difficult circumstances have compelled something quite incredible to happen.”

Tribeca Enterprises and Tribeca Film Festival co-founder and CEO Jane Rosenthal said: “We are so excited to share the combined efforts of our festival partners and YouTube with the world this week.

“Together, we were able to curate a compelling slate of programming that succinctly reflects the subtle variations in style that make each festival so special. We Are One: A Global Film Festival will offer audiences an opportunity to not only celebrate the art of film, but the unique qualities that make each story we watch so memorable.”

YouTube chief business officer Robert Kyncl added: ““One of the beautiful things about films and other visual content is the ability to tell stories and bring people together, no matter where they live or where they’re from. This is a phenomenon we’ve seen at YouTube throughout the years but especially today, as people look to connect and be entertained.

“The programming coordinated by Tribeca Enterprises for We Are One: A Global Film Festival has that magical ability to transport viewers from all around the world to a special moment in time, through the unique lens that our esteemed festival partners bring.”

Other participating festivals include: Annecy International Animation Film Festival, BFI London Film Festival, Guadalajara International Film Festival, International Film Festival & Awards Macao (IFFAM), International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR), Jerusalem Film Festival, Mumbai Film Festival (MAMI), Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, Locarno Film Festival, Marrakech International Film Festival, New York Film Festival, San Sebastian International Film Festival, Sarajevo Film Festival and Tokyo International Film Festival.

Mabo will screen on YouTube June 5 9pm AEST, and Mystery Road June 7, 10.05pm AEST.

The full We Are One line-up is available here.

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