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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Friday December 13, 2019 


With a cash prize of $60,000 from its principal sponsor Hunter Hall, plus the kudos of an international jury judging entries, the Sydney Film Festival is elevating its status on the world festival stage from June 2008 (its 55th), with the help of $1.8 million in NSW Government support, reports Andrew L. Urban.

Commencing with the June 2008 edition of the Sydney Film Festival, the new Competition program will comprise 12 feature films to be judged by a Jury of three prominent international and two Australian film industry members. The competition will feature nightly red-carpet gala screenings and culminate in an awards ceremony.
The Festival will also host 24 guest filmmakers and industry executives from around the world who will augment the screenings of their films with discussions afterwards. They will also participate in a series of business matching events designed to build development and production opportunities in New South Wales.

Executive Director Clare Stewart said “with an Official Competition strand Sydney will join the worlds leading film festival cities. The competition, and the significant cash prize, will enhance the breadth and depth of our existing program, increasing both the glamour and industry relevance of our event.”

The NSW Govt provided funding boost ($1.8 million over three years) will enable the Sydney Film Festival to become the first Australian festival to have an Official Competition. This status has been granted by FIAPF, the regulating organisation for international film festivals. The Minister for the Arts, The Honourable Frank Sartor comments, “The NSW Government is proud to support the new international jury prize, which marks the coming of age of the Sydney Film Festival as a truly global event. I am confident this award will quickly become highly prized by the global screen industry.”

The Festival’s Principal Sponsor, Hunter Hall Investment Management, have pledged a $60,000 cash prize for the winning film in the ‘specialised competition, the largest cash prize for film in Australia. The prize will be awarded for ‘new directions in film, recognising movies that ‘have emotional power and resonance; are audacious, cutting edge and courageous; and go beyond the usual treatment of their subject matter.’

The Official Competition will be open to fiction films from all countries, including Australia. To be eligible, a film will be 75 minutes or longer; will not have been released outside its country of origin more than 12 months before the start date of the Sydney Film Festival; and will be an Australian premiere.

Published September 11, 2007

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Festival Director Clare Stewart

Competition guidelines available from October 1, 2007 for entry in the Sydney Film Festival, June 4 – 22, 2008.

By Andrew L. Urban
After seeing Victoria ‘buy’ the televised AFI Awards and Queensland ‘buy’ both the If Awards and the inaugural internationally televised Asia Pacific Screen Awards, NSW was feeling denuded of high profile film events. All it took was some money and the State could reassert its premier status in film culture – or at least claim significance.

International competition at a film festival is very expensive – hence its absence to date on our calendars. Juries (and other special guests) have to be flown in and accommodated, a higher level of welcome and hospitality has to be arranged and expanded media facilities hosted. And you better have some decent looking trophies – a cash prize helps, too, but it has to be big enough.

The return is counted in kudos and significance in the world’s film community.

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