Midnight Oil: The Hardest Line to open Sydney Film Festival 2024

The documentary is the product of seven years following the band, with unseen footage from across their 45-year career.

The 71st Sydney Film Festival (SFF) will screen the World Premiere of Midnight Oil: The Hardest Line at its Opening Night Gala in June at the State Theatre, followed by a post-screening celebration in the Sydney Town Hall.

The Hardest Line, say the producers, ‘tells Midnight Oil’s trailblazing story for the first time ever on film. Across their 45-year career, “The Oils” helped shape modern Australia with anthems such as US Forces, Beds Are Burning, Blue Sky Mine and Redneck Wonderland.

‘Featuring unheard interviews with every band member, unseen live and studio footage, alongside signature moments such as the outback tour with Warumpi Band, their Exxon protest gig in New York and those famous “Sorry” suits at the Sydney Olympics, this film traces the singular journey of Australia’s quintessential rock band.’

‘We are thrilled to present Midnight Oil: The Hardest Line as the opening film,’ said SFF Director Nashen Moodley. “This documentary not only chronicles the formidable journey of one of Australia’s most influential bands but also captures the spirit of an era that reshaped our cultural and political landscapes. It’s a fitting tribute to their legacy and a profound reflection on their impact that continues to inspire audiences around the world.’

Writer, director, and executive producer Paul Clarke said: “There is no other rock band in the world like Midnight Oil. For half a century they were fearless, contrary and totally original. When Australia was creaking under the weight of its own myths, they told us the truth. Their songs pinpoint the faultlines in our culture, they rage against the strange and dangerous times we’ve lived through, and they offer hope.  After following them for seven years, we thank “The Oils” and we feel we have an important film to share.’

Midnight Oil: The Hardest Line is a Blink TV and Beyond Entertainment feature documentary. Principal production funding from Screen Australia and Australian Broadcasting Corporation in association with Screen NSW.  Financed with support from Sony Music Entertainment and Sony Music Publishing.  Australian theatrical distribution by Roadshow Films. Midnight Oil: The Hardest Line is written and directed by Paul Clarke, produced by Carolina Sorensen, and executive produced by Mikael Borglund, Paul Clarke and Martin Fabinyi.

The full 71st Sydney Film Festival program will be announced on 8 May 2024.

Paul Dalgarno is author of the novels A Country of Eternal Light (2023) and Poly (2020); the memoir And You May Find Yourself (2015); and the creative non-fiction book Prudish Nation (2023). He was formerly Deputy Editor of The Conversation and joined ScreenHub as Managing Editor in 2022. X: @pauldalgarno. Insta: @dalgarnowrites