Official Competition

The Sydney Film Prize is the pinnacle of the competitive awards at SFF each year, presented in recognition of the most courageous, audacious and cutting-edge new cinema.

The FIAPF-accredited Official Competition was again at the heart of the 2016 Festival, featuring 12 international titles, selected for their 'courage and audacity'. A jury of five international and Australian filmmakers and industry professionals selected Aquarius directed by Kleber Mendonça Filho to receive the $60,000 Sydney Film Prize at the Closing Night ceremony on Sunday 19 June.

The Official Competition celebrates that rare but thrilling kind of film that truly moves the art form forward. Innovative, provocative or controversial, they broaden our understanding of the world and say important things in original ways. The previous Sydney Film Prize winners are: Arabian Nights (2015)Two Days, One Night (2014); Only God Forgives (2013); Alps (2012); A Separation (2011), which went on to win an Academy Award; Heartbeats (2010); Bronson (2009); and Hunger (2008).

The Official Competition was established in 2008 and endorsed by Fédération Internationale des Associations de Producteurs de Films (the regulating organisation for international film festivals).

The 2016 Official Competition jury members were: Jury President, international programmer and producer Simon Field (UK), prolific writer, director and producer Robert Connolly (Australia), Dublin International Film Festival’s Director Gráinne Humphreys (Ireland), acclaimed producer Bridget Ikin (Australia), and cutting edge documentarian Kazuhiro Soda (Japan).



Selected for Cannes Un Certain Regard, Apprentice is an emotionally and psychologically astute film about a Singaporean prison guard's apprenticeship to the chief executioner.


Straight from Competition at Cannes, Kleber Mendonça Filho's follow-up to Neighbouring Sounds (SFF 2012) pits a single woman (Sonia Braga) against an aggressive property developer.

Certain Women

An evocative and poetic character study of three Montana women, the new film by Kelly Reichardt (Meek's Cutoff, Wendy and Lucy) stars Laura Dern, Michelle Williams and Kristen Stewart.

The Childhood of a Leader

Winner of Best Debut Feature and Best Director awards at Venice, this stylish historical drama stars Liam Cunningham, Bérénice Bejo, and Robert Pattinson.

The Endless River

Love and revenge in post-apartheid South Africa form the core of writer-director Oliver Hermanus' boldly melodramatic and visually ravishing follow-up to Beauty (SFF, 2011).


Australian auteur Ivan Sen (Mystery Road, SFF 2013) takes us on a thrilling journey in the world premiere of Goldstone, an ambitious and stunning outback noir that is perfectly executed.

It's Only the End of the World

Prodigiously talented Xavier Dolan adds to his distinctive body of work with this emotional and immersive family drama, a 2016 Cannes Competition contender with a stellar French cast.

Land of Mine

Based on true events, this multi-award winning audience favourite is an edgy thriller about young German prisoners of war forced to disarm unexploded mines in the aftermath of WWII.

Letters from War

Gorgeous images and passionate declarations come together in an enchanting wartime love story from the producers of Miguel Gomes' Tabu and Arabian Nights.

Notes on Blindness

A beautiful and precise account of the world of blindness: an innovative visual recreation of the audio diaries of writer and theologian John Hull.

Psycho Raman

Straight from Cannes Directors' Fortnight, Anurag Kashyap (Gangs of Wasseypur, SFF 2012) returns with a thriller about a serial killer and the violent cop in hot pursuit.


Paddy Breathnach uncovers authentic Cuba in this heartbreaking family drama about a troubled drag queen; an audience favourite at festivals all around the world.