Sydney Film Festival Calls Cut On Successful Year
Audience numbers were up – and their favourite films have just been revealed.
The 59th Sydney Film Festival came to a close on June 17 and recorded its highest attendance to date.
"This year, attendances at films and talks grew by 10% to 122,000," said SFF CEO, Leigh Small. "There was also a 27% growth in Flexipass sales, indicating individuals are attending more films during the Festival. We were elated by the positive festival buzz in the city this year, and again almost 50% of the sessions were over 90% full."
In his first year as SFF Festival Director, Nashen Moodley said he was proud to lead an event that continues to grow and change. "I was delighted to see so much of Sydney come together in such a spirit of celebration; all ages, all cultures, all interests, all backgrounds were out in force, creating audiences of great diversity united by their shared love of the cinema experience."
The Showtime Movie Channels Audience Awards are the people's choice awards, the winners reflecting the most popular audience films at the festival. After each screening, audience members were invited to rate each film via an SMS voting system. The winner for best narrative feature went to the Oscar-nominated Canadian drama Monsieur Lazhar (pictured), about a group of school children whose lives are transformed by an inspiring teacher; while the best documentary winner was Death of a Japanese Salesman, a moving tribute to the end of a man's life.
This year the festival announced Rachel Perkins and Darren Dale as programming partners to jointly curate and present the best Indigenous films from both Australia and around the world, under the banner of Blackfella Films At Sydney Film Festival. They presented six films including the World Premiere of Mabo, which was attended by the real-life protagonist, Bonita Mabo, and her family, and received an emotional reception and standing ovation.
There were a total of 225 sessions held across the 12 days of the festival, including 157 films from 51 countries in 51 languages, 17 world premieres (9 features, 8 shorts) and 112 Australian premieres, 13 retrospective titles, 34 short films, 68 features and 42 documentaries, 25 films by first-time feature directors and 44 films directed or co-directed by women.
The audience didn't just contain avid moviegoers, with over 150 Australian and international filmmakers also attending. This included guests from 22 countries.
"It's tremendous to see that the Festival has had such a great year with a program that has broad appeal to film-loving Sydney audiences," said Ruth Harley, CEO of Screen Australia.