The 68th Sydney Film Festival, in cinema 3–14 November, and online 12–21 November, opened tonight at the iconic State Theatre with the Australian Premiere of Australian drama Here Out West. The film featured stories from eight talented Western Sydney writers, and was directed by five powerhouse female directors.
Festival Director Nashen Moodley was pleased to open his tenth Festival to an excited in-cinema audience including Here Out West directors Fadia Abboud and Julie Kalceff, alongside producers Annabel Davis, Sheila Jayadev and Bree-Anne Sykes, as well as writers Nisrine Amine, Bina Bhattacharya, Matias Bolla, Claire Cao, Arka Das, Dee Dogan, Vonne Patiag and Tien Tran, and cast Mia-Lore Bayeh, Leah Vandenberg, Gabrielle Chan, Jing-Xuan Chan, Christine Milo, Brandon Nguyen, Christian Ravello, Khoi Trinh and De Lovan Zandy.
Sydney Film Festival Board Chair Deanne Weir said, “We are delighted that Opening Night of the 68th Sydney Film Festival heralds the return of major cultural events to Sydney and New South Wales. After a challenging couple of years, it will be wonderful to welcome everyone to share some amazing stories on the big screen.”
“We are so grateful to our government, corporate and philanthropic supporters who remained committed to us through uncertain times; because of them we are able to present a world class festival,” she said.
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said, “Our government is proud to support this marquee event in Sydney’s cultural calendar, bringing the world to our harbour city. It’s also wonderful to see in-person screenings finally return for 2021 after the many challenges presented by the pandemic.”
“NSW is home to more than half of Australia’s screen industry and our state is the launch pad for so many of our top directors, actors and production talent. With the people, the know-how, the international links and continued NSW Government support, I have no doubt the Festival will go from strength to strength,” he said.
Minister for the Arts Don Harwin said, “The NSW Government, through Screen NSW, is proud to support the 68th Sydney Film Festival, which opened tonight in style at the iconic State Theatre.”
“As Sydney reopens, this year’s Festival will reunite us with friends, film, and some of our favourite Sydney cinema spaces, and I invite you to enjoy the Festival and revel in the greatest stories from NSW and the world,” he said.
Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts of Australia The Hon. Paul Fletcher said, “The film industry is a very important part of Australia’s cultural and creative sector, and the Sydney Film Festival is a very important part of the film industry. I’m pleased that the Morrison Government has been able to support the Festival this year through Screen Australia and the RISE fund.”
Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore said, “The Sydney Film Festival is more important to our cultural calendar than ever this year, and the City is delighted to support the event once again.”
“The past 20 months has been incredibly tough for those in the creative and cultural sectors – from our actors to our producers, agents and behind-the-scenes technicians – and the City has worked to provide support throughout.”
“We’ve introduced three new funding initiatives to support cultural and creative organisations during the pandemic and as the city and business reopens – the $25 million cultural sector resilience grant program, a $1 million creative fellowships fund and a $250,000 sector-led crisis support fund.”
“As always, we remain committed to supporting key events such as the Festival to help promote Australia’s extraordinary creative talent to the world,” she said.
Also in attendance was The Hon. Stuart Ayres MP, Member for Penrith, Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney, and Minister for Industry and Trade.
Figures from across the film industry also attended including creatives with films screening in this year’s Festival including Shark director Nash Edgerton, The Department director Sascha Ettinger-Epstein, Ithaka director Ben Lawrence, and River co-director Jennifer Peedom.
Other guests included: Australian screen legend Hugo Weaving; filmmaker Rachel Perkins; Youtube personality Natalie Tran; film critic Margaret Pomeranz; Slam (SFF 2019) director Partho Sen-Gupta; AFI Award winning producer Sandra Levy; and Our Law (SFF 2020) director Cornel Ozies.
The Festival also announced 2021’s Official Competition jury comprising of: David Michôd (Jury President); Australian actor Simon Baker (High Ground, SFF Summer Season 2021); NITV Head of Commissioning & Programming Kyas Hepworth; director and producer Maya Newell (Gayby Baby, SFF 2015); and Australian filmmaker Clara Law (Drifting Petals, SFF 2021).
The full Sydney Film Festival 2021 program can be found online at sff.org.au.
Sydney Film Festival runs in cinema 3–14 November 2021. SFF On Demand’s online program runs 12-21 November. Tickets to Sydney Film Festival 2021 are on sale now. Please call 1300 733 733 or visit sff.org.au for more information.