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BY Sydney Film Festival | 01-May-2019
The 66th Sydney Film Festival (5 – 16 June) announces the World Premiere of Palm Beach, an uplifting drama/comedy from Australian director Rachel Ward, as the Opening Night Film at the State Theatre on Wednesday 5 June. @sydneyfilmfestival #sydneyfilmfestival @sydfilmfest #sydfilmfest
Sydney Film Festival’s Opening Night Gala is proudly presented by Lexus Australia. Tickets are on sale now via sff.org.au.

Palm Beach features an all-star cast of Australian screen legends including Golden Globe-nominated icons Bryan Brown (Australia Day, SFF 2017), Sam Neill (The Daughter, SFF 2015), Oscar nominee Richard E. Grant (Gosford Park), Greta Scacchi (The Player, SFF 1992), Jacqueline McKenzie (Romper Stomper) and Heather Mitchell (Rogue), as well as Brown and Ward’s daughter Matilda Brown, playing Ella - the daughter of Brown’s character Frank.

Set at Sydney’s spectacular Palm Beach, the film follows lifelong friends who gather to celebrate a milestone birthday, only for tension to mount when new and old resentments arise, along with the threat of an old secret coming to light.

With a filmmaking team comprising over 50% female crew, the film is Ward’s second feature film following Beautiful Kate, which will also screen at this year’s Festival as part of Essential Australian Women Directors – 10 Trailblazers Selected by David Stratton.

“Film festival time in Sydney is my favourite time of year. To be kicking it off is a really special treat,” said Rachel Ward. “'The inspiration for the film came over a Christmas in Wales with friends … It was a funny and warm occasion, but also one where we realised no one is untouched.”

“Set in one of Sydney’s most beautiful locations, it's great to think Palm Beach will open this year’s Festival,” she said.

“Ward is an incredible Australian storyteller whose second feature combines a breathtaking Sydney location with an exuberant and life-affirming story celebrating friendship, brought alive with witty dialogue and a cast of great talent at the top of their game,” Sydney Film Festival Director Nashen Moodley said. “The Festival is thrilled to open with the World Premiere of this fantastic ensemble piece.”

“Lexus Australia is delighted to again support Sydney Film Festival – an event that continues to showcase breakthrough filmmaking talent amid a well-organised, highly enjoyable atmosphere,” Vin Naidoo, Senior Manager, Marketing, Lexus Australia said.

Create NSW Executive Director for Investment and Engagement, Elizabeth W. Scott said “When we announced our gender target – 50:50 by 2020 – we wanted to level the playing field and make a real impact on the industry. Now I’m thrilled to see those targets come to life with Rachel Ward directing a 50% female crew with the fantastic Palm Beach opening the Sydney Film Festival.”

Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres said “Palm Beach captures the sheer beauty of NSW’s beloved northern beaches, while celebrating the creative excellence of the State”, citing that the film would profile NSW as a world-class destination to visit.

A limited number of Film and Party, and Film-only tickets are available now. Film and Party tickets include entry to the Opening Night Film and the exclusive after-party at Centennial Hall at Town Hall, Sydney.

NB: Tickets to the Closing Night Film and Awards Presentation on Sunday 16 June are also on sale from 9am on Tuesday 30 April.

Palm Beach received major production investment from Screen Australia in association with Create NSW, and was financed with support from Destination NSW and Spectrum Films. It will be distributed through Universal Pictures and will have a national theatrical release on Thursday 8 August, 2019. It will be distributed through Universal Pictures and will have a national theatrical release on Thursday 8 August, 2019.