Sydney Film Festival

Sydney Film Festival
The Sydney Film Festival (SFF) is an annual film festival held in the Australian city of Sydney each June. It is one of the world’s longest-running film festivals and one of the biggest film events in Australia and the entire Southern Hemisphere.

The Sydney Film Festival was inaugurated in 1954. Its organizers were inspired by the experience of Australian filmmakers at the Edinburgh International Film Festival founded in 1947 and the successful launch of the Melbourne International Film Festival in 1952. The first festival was held from June 11–14, 1954 at the University of Sydney and attracted 1,200 film lovers.

The first international sponsored guest at the Sydney Film Festival was British documentary filmmaker, film historian and critic Paul Rotha who attended the event in 1958. By 1960, the festival ran over 17 days and attracted around 2,000 attendees each year. Censorship difficulties arose in the mid-1960s but in 1971 the festival was granted exemption from censorship.

The University of Sydney remained the main venue of the festival from it inception until 1967. From 1968 to 1974, the Sydney Film Festival was held in the Wintergarden Cinema in Rose Bay. Since 1974, the festival has been held at the historic State Theater in downtown Sydney. It also uses other venues across the city including Event Cinemas George Street, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Dendy Opera Quays, Dendy Newtown, the Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace, and others.

The Sydney Film Festival screens full-length feature films, documentaries, shorts and animated films. It was accredited by the International Federation of Film Producers Associations (FIAPF) first as a non-competitive film festival and then as a competitive specialized film festival for avant-garde directing.

The festival’s Official Competition is open to provocative, controversial and cutting-edge films. They compete for the Sydney Film Prize awarded by a jury consisting of five Australian and international filmmakers and industry professionals. The first filmmaker to win the award was Steve McQueen for his historical drama film Hunger. The festival also presents a number of special awards.

Alongside the Official Competition, the program of the Sydney Film Festival includes opening night gala, closing night gala, award ceremonies, special presentations and programs, retrospectives, talks, and other exciting events and activities for film lovers and industry professionals alike.

In 2020, the event was held online due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Sydney Film Festival





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