63rd Sydney Film Festival Complete & Foxtel Movies Audience Award Announced

22 Jun 2016

The 63rd Sydney Film Festival wrapped on Sunday 19 June with the Australian premiere screening of Whit Stillman’s Love & Friendship to a sold out audience at the State Theatre.

Today the Festival announced the Foxtel Movies Audience Awards; the list of the people’s top five film favourites. Winner for best narrative feature went to Mustang directed by Deniz Gamze Ergüven; and winner for best documentary went to Zach’s Ceremony directed by Aaron Petersen.

Sydney Film Festival CEO Leigh Small said, “Cinemas were full again this year with an average of 73% capacity across all sessions and more sell-outs than ever before. Final attendance figures will exceed last year and reach almost 180,000. We were particularly proud to present even more filmmaker and curator hosted screenings; and to see the introduction of the Lexus Short Film Fellowships.”

Sydney Film Festival Director Nashen Moodley said: “The Festival has been bolstered with an incredible line up of important films and filmmakers from around the world, with a strong selection direct from Cannes, including the winning film Kleber Mendonça Filho’s Aquarius, Xavier Dolan’s It’s Only the End of the World, Oscar winning Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar’s Julieta, Singaporean Boo Junfeng’s Apprentice, and American filmmaker Matt Ross’s Captain Fantastic,  French director Jean-François Richet’s Blood Father starring Oscar-winning filmmaker and actor Mel Gibson; American filmmaker Jim Jarmusch’s Gimme Danger, Oscar-winning filmmaker Steven Spielberg’s fantasy adventure The BFG; prolific contemporary Indian director Anurag Kashyap’s Psycho Raman; Korean director Park Chan-wook’s sensual, twist-filled tale The Handmaiden and Jim Jarmusch’s popular Cannes hit Paterson.

“Important voices for Australian cinema also received their world premieres at the Festival including Ivan Sen with Goldstone, Abe Forsythe’s Down Under, Stephen Sewell’s Embedded and Craig Boreham’s Teenage Kicks which screened to critical acclaim.”

“Other highlights included hosting multi Academy Award winning documentarian Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy who presented the Australian premiere of her most recent films A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness, and A Journey of a Thousand Miles: Peacekeepers with co-director Geeta Gandbhir, to a standing ovation. On the final weekend, the festival hosted another Oscar winner, Morgan Neville (20 Feet from Stardom), with his latest music-inspired documentary The Music of Strangers – Yo Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble.”

“The Festival also announced the inaugural four Lexus Australia Short Film Fellowship fellows: Anya Beyersdorf, Brooke Goldfinch, Alex Murawski and Alex Ryan at the world premiere of Australian actor and filmmaker Damian Walshe-Howling’s short film MESSiAH, at the State Theatre, followed by the Australian Premiere of Blood Father, where Mel Gibson introduced his film, and the next day was in-conversation at a free public talk at the Festival Hub,” he said. 

The Festival’s footprint grew, with more venues than ever this year. The State Theatre, Event Cinemas George Street, Dendy Opera Quays, Dendy Newtown, Skyline Drive-In Blacktown, Art Gallery of NSW, Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace Cremorne, Casula Powerhouse, SFF Outdoor Screen at Pitt Street Mall, the Festival Hub at Sydney Town Hall, and the Apple Store Sydney returned; with new venues University of New South Wales and Carriageworks added to the program.

NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for the Arts Troy Grant said, “The NSW Government has been proud to support the 63rd Sydney Film Festival, with its ninth continuous year of growth. The Festival’s footprint grows each year, and with the Travelling Film Festival taking highlights across the state, it is more accessible than ever.” 

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said, “The festival was a triumph this year, profiling powerful stories from Australia and around the world. I was particularly moved by Fredrick Wiseman’s glimpse into Jackson Heights NYC, one of the USA’s most culturally diverse communities, where 167 different languages are spoken. Without interviews or commentary, Wiseman let the voices of the community through conversations and public meetings tell their story.”

“We were thrilled to see 36 Australian works featured in this year’s Festival, 20 of which received Screen Australia funds, led by feature film Goldstone.  Not only did Goldstone open the Festival, but it was the second time Director Ivan Sen was given this honour,” said Graeme Mason, CEO of Screen Australia. “Beyond critical acclaim, it was also heartening to see the Australian film sessions so well attended, including sell-outs for documentaries The Baulkham Hills African Ladies Troupe, Constance on the Edge, Night Parrot Stories, Zach’s Ceremony, Winter at Westbeth and feature Down Under.”