Awards and Jury

A number of awards are presented during the Sydney Film Festival, reflecting our commitment to quality 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 $63,000 Sydney Film Prize.

The Sydney Film Festival rewards excellence in Australian documentary filmmaking with the Documentary Australia Foundation Award for Australian Documentary, now in its third year. At the 2016 Sydney Film Festival, the $15,000 cash prize was awarded to Dan Jackson for In the Shadow of the Hill, with a special mention going to Sascha Ettinger Epstein's Destination Arnold.

Established in 2015, Lexus Australia Short Film Fellowship is the largest cash fellowship for short film in Australia, providing a new platform to support emerging filmmakers. Up to four annual Fellows will receive $50,000 each to produce their next short film in 2016 and 2017, to premiere at the Sydney Film Festival in 2017 and 2018. The Fellowship is funded by Lexus Australia and managed and presented by Sydney Film Festival. At the 2016 Sydney Film Festival, Anya Beyersdorf, Brooke Goldfinch, Alex Murawski and Alex Ryan were announced as the four recipients of the inaugural Lexus Australia Short Film Fellowship.

The Sydney Film Festival also hosts the Dendy Awards for Australian Short Films, celebrating the craft of short filmmaking in Australia. The winners of the Live Action category and Yoram Gross Animation Awards are Academy Award eligible. At the 2016 Sydney Film Festival, the Dendy Live Action Short Award was awarded to Slapper, directed and written by Luci Schroder; the Yoram Gross Animation Award was awarded to The Crossing directed by Marieka Walsh; and the Rouben Mamoulian Award for Best Director went to Goran Stolevski for You Deserve Everything.

In its third year, the Event Cinemas Australian Short Screenplay Awards aims to reward the best local short film screenwriters with a $5,000 cash prize for their achievements. The 2016 winner was Spice Sisters, written and directed by Sheila Jayadev, with a special mention to Matthew Vesely for My Best Friend is Stuck on the Ceiling.

The inaugural Sydney UNESCO City of Film Award, bestowed by Screen NSW, was awarded, along with a $10,000 cash prize, to Lynette Wallworth (Tender, SFF 2015) at the 2016 Sydney Film Festival. The award recognises an outstanding NSW-based screen practitioner, whose work stands for innovation, imagination and impact.

Lastly – likened as the Sydney Film Festival's own people's choice awards – the Foxtel Movies Audience Awards, present best feature and best documentary prizes, reflecting the most popular films at the festival. The 2016 Foxtel Movies Audience Award for Best Feature was Mustang by Deniz Gamze Ergüven and the 2016 Foxtel Movies Audience Award for Best Documentary was Zach's Ceremony by Aaron Petersen.

Sydney Film Festival's stunning awards, from the blue beauty of the Sydney Film Prize to the mesmeric swirl of the Documentary Australia Foundation Award for Australian Documentary, the Dendy Awards, the Event Cinemas Australian Short Screenplay Awards, the Sydney UNESCO City of Film Award and the Foxtel Movies Audience Awards, designed and handmade in Sydney by Dinosaur Designs.