The 2019 Sydney Film Festival concluded last night (though there are some popular encore screenings early this week) at the glorious State Theatre with a screening of the Richard Curtis-written, Danny Boyle-directed rom-com Yesterday. Before the feature presentation, Tim Minchin took to the stage to introduce various dignitaries, who boasted that the 2019 festival was the highest ever attended, 188,000 to be more precise, with 160 sold out sessions. We also understand that the surge in attendance was from the under-30 audience, breaking the festival’s long-held tradition of being only for the thermos/lunch box set.
The big prize for the night predictably went to Bong Joon-ho’s Cannes Palme d’Or winner Parasite. “Parasite has an outrageous disregard for genre conventions – it is tender and brutal; beautiful and harsh; funny and tragic and a masterwork in its exploration of class,” said Jury president, Producer John Maynard. An ecstatic Bong took to the stage to accept the award, claiming that Sydney Film Festival has the best audiences in the world.
Other gongs went to Erica Glynn’s She Who Must Be Loved for the Documentary Australia Foundation Award for Best Documentary, with a commendation to Kaye Harrison’s Sanctuary.
In the Dendy Awards for Australian Short Films, the big winner was Charles Williams for his Palme d’Or winning short film All These Creatures, which picked up the Live Action and the Rouben Mamoulian Award for Best Director. Williams also picked up the best gaffe award when thanking his partner for her support and not knowing of the best way to address her, going with ‘My Lady’, which Minchin had a lot of fun with.
Past animation winner Lee Whitmore took home the Yoram Gross Animation Award for Sohrab and Rustum.
Event Cinemas Australian Short Screenplay Award was presented to Michael Hudson for Ties That Bind, with a special mention to Victoria Hunt’s Take.
Lastly, the $10,000 Sydney-UNESCO City of Film Award went to Blackfella Films, which Deborah Mailman presented to filmmaker Rachel Perkins, who brought her young son on the stage to thank him for putting up with her being away so often making films and TV shows.