Published by: Sydney Film Festival | 13-May-2019
The 66th Sydney Film Festival has announced the return of eight accolades to be awarded at the 2019 Festival, and the 12th year of the Festival's Official Competition awarding the Sydney Film Prize.
"This year, the Official Competition celebrates 12 years of awarding the prestigious Sydney Film Prize to the most audacious, cutting-edge and courageous film," said Festival Director Nashen Moodley. "Innovative, provocative or controversial, these films broaden our understanding of the world, and say important things in original ways."

"Among the 12 films selected to compete are three debut features. From Australia, Mirrah Foulkes' feminist revenge tale Judy & Punch, starring Mia Wasikowska and Damon Herriman; Ben Lawrence's (Ghosthunter - DAF winner at SFF 2018) Hearts and Bones, starring Hugo Weaving (Mystery Road, SFF 2014); and from New Zealand, the warmly humorous Bellbird, about a community coming together after a tragic death," he said.

"Direct from competing for the Palme d'Or at Cannes will be: Pedro Almodóvar's Pain and Glory starring Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz; Parasite, a satire on income inequality by Bong Joon-ho (Okja, SFF 2017); and searing political parable Bacurau co-directed by Kleber Mendonça Filho - whose film Aquarius won the Sydney Film Prize in 2016," he said.

"Also in Competition are Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's double Oscar-nominated epic Never Look Away; Nadav Lapid's Synonyms, winner of the Berlinale Golden Bear; Dirty God, an intimate portrait of a young mother scarred by an acid attack; feminist satire God Exists, Her Name is Petrunya; and two films from Sundance: Joanna Hogg's Grand Jury Prize winner The Souvenir; and winner of the Special Jury Award Monos," he said.

The winner will join the ranks of celebrated prior winners of the Sydney Film Prize: The Heiresses (2018), On Body and Soul (2017); Aquarius (2016); Arabian Nights (2015); Two Days, One Night (2014); Only God Forgives (2013); Alps (2012); A Separation (2011); Heartbeats (2010); Bronson (2009); and Hunger (2008).

The 2019 Official Competition jury comprises: Australian producer John Maynard (Jury President); Australian filmmaker Ana Kokkinos (Blessed, SFF 2019); actor and director from Brazil, Wagner Moura (Marighella, SFF 2019); from New Zealand, filmmaker Gaylene Preston (My Year with Helen, SFF 2017); and Indian artist and filmmaker Ritu Sarin (The Sweet Requiem, SFF 2019).


10 finalists have been announced for the Documentary Australia Foundation Award for Australian Documentary. The Foundation awards a $10,000 cash prize to the winning film.

The ten films in competition are: I Am No Bird, In My Blood It Runs, It All Started With A Stale Sandwich, The Leunig Fragments, Life After The Oasis, Lili, Martha: A Picture Story, Sanctuary, She Who Must Be Obeyed Loved, and White Light.

"Documentary Australia Foundation is very proud to continue our support of the Sydney Film Festival for a sixth year. The documentaries nominated in the Australian competition are of such a high standard, with distinctive stories covering a fascinating range of issues and styles," said Documentary Australia Foundation CEO Dr Mitzi Goldman.

"They are only a snapshot of the breadth of talent and commitment in the Australian documentary sector, but provide a window into the profound work and commitment our filmmakers have to their subjects. We have great respect for our documentary filmmakers, and it is an honour to celebrate their excellence in a small way with this award," she said.

Previous winners of the Australian documentary prize at Sydney Film Festival are: Ghosthunter (2018); The Pink House (2017); In the Shadow of the Hill (2016); Only the Dead (2015); 35 Letters (2014); Buckskin (2013); Killing Anna (2012); Life in Movement (2011), and; The Snowman (2010). In 2009 the inaugural prize was shared between Contact and A Good Man (each film received a $10,000 cash prize).


Ten finalists in the Dendy Awards, Australia's longest running short film competition, now in its 50th year, will screen on 15 and again on 16 June. Three prize winners - The Dendy Live Action Short Award, The Rouben Mamoulian Award for Best Director and the Yoram Gross Animation Award - will each receive a cash prize to be announced at the Festival's Closing Night.

"Dendy Cinemas is honoured to continue our long standing partnership with the Sydney Film Festival and we look forward to discovering new Australian filmmakers with the 50th anniversary of the Dendy Awards," said Nick Hayes, Head of Theatrical Sales and Acquisitions, Dendy / Icon.

These ground-breaking awards have kick-started the careers of many prominent filmmakers, with talent including Warwick Thornton, Ariel Kleiman, Cate Shortland, Jane Campion, Phillip Noyce and Ivan Sen among the Dendy Awards alumni.

The competition for Australian Short Films was established by the Festival in 1970. Winners of the Best Live Action Short Film Award and the Yoram Gross Animation Award (sponsored by Sandra and Guy Gross in memory of the late Yoram Gross) are Academy Award-eligible, opening new pathways for many Australian filmmakers.


24 finalists have been announced for the Event Cinemas Australian Short Screenplay Award. The Award provides a $5,000 cash prize for the best screenplay in one of the short fiction films selected for the Sydney Film Festival program. All new Australian short fiction films screening at the Festival are eligible, and the winner is announced at the Closing Night Gala.

"Australian screen writers are the cornerstone of our films on screen. They begin the process of unique stories, presenting characters and landscapes that define Australian stories on film," said Event Cinema's Film Festival's General Manager, Anthony Kierann.

"Event Cinemas is thrilled to contribute to the development of emerging writing talent, and congratulates all writers in the award program that begin the threads of Australian stories on our screens," he said.


Presented by Create NSW, this annual award recognises a trailblazing NSW-based screen practitioner whose work stands for innovation, imagination and high impact. A filmmaker will be awarded a $10,000 cash prize at the Closing Night Gala. Previous winners include: Warwick Thornton, Leah Purcell, and Lynette Wallworth.


The Audience Awards are the Festival's people's choice awards, where Festival fans get to vote for the most popular films at the Festival. Using the SFF 2019 app, Festivalgoers are invited to rate films after each screening. Two awards are presented: one for best narrative feature and one for best documentary. Previous winners have included: The Insult and Backtrack Boys (2018), Ali's Wedding and Roller Dreams (2017); Mustang and Zach's Ceremony (2016); Me and Earl and the Dying Girl and Wide Open Sky (2015); Winter Sleep and Love Marriage in Kabul (2014); and Mystery Road and Big Name No Blanket (2013).


The winners of all Sydney Film Festival awards are presented with the Festival's signature mesmeric swirl award, designed and handmade in Sydney by our partners Dinosaur Designs.

The full Sydney Film Festival 2019 program can be found online at sff.org.au.

Sydney Film Festival runs 5 - 16 June 2019. Tickets for Sydney Film Festival 2019 are on sale now. Please call 1300 733 733 or visit sff.org.au for more information.

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