For the past two weeks Sydney’s cinemas have been transformed into an art house cultural hub for the 60th Sydney Film Festival. The world’s longest-running film festival presented a diversity of cinematic talent, with 192 titles from 55 countries, including four world premieres, 51 documentaries and 124 Australian premieres.
To celebrate the milestone the festival acquired a new venue, the North Shore’s treasured heritage cinema, the Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace. That, and additional screenings at existing venues, helped boost seat numbers for the duration of the festival by 38,000.
Nashen Moodley, in his second year as festival director, boasted proudly that his team had created “more opportunities for more people to see more films than ever before”.
“The quality of this year’s programme is already being confirmed by critics and audiences alike, so people can choose with confidence from a list of films that are sure to delight every taste and preference.”
The festival was launched with Ivan Sen’s latest indigenous rural crime premiere, Mystery Road. The guest line-up included Toni Collette, acclaimed South Korean director Park Chan-wook, actress Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland), Hugo Weaving (jury president for the official competition) and his Holiness the Dalai Lama, who was seen on Thursday.
The closing awards ceremony take place at the State Theatre on Sunday. Top awards to be announced include the $60,000 Sydney Film Festival Prize, the Foxtel Australian Documentary Prize and the Dendy Awards for Australian Short Films.
The ceremony will close with Twenty Feet From Stardom, a musical documentary that features performances by music legends Ray Charles, Lou Reed and Stevie Wonder, but focuses beyond the spotlight, on the backup singers who make the tunes really swing. Full details on the Sydney Film festival website. – Jesika Haangana
Top photo: Glitz and glamour? Has to be opening night at the festival! Photo courtesy of SFF.