We acknowledge Australia’s First Nations People as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the land, and pay respect to the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, upon whose Country SFF are based.
We honour the storytelling and culture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Australia.

Our People

Darren DaleChair

Darren Dale has produced multiple award-winning documentary, factual and drama programs.

In drama, his credits include the telemovie Mabo, the groundbreaking Redfern Now (Logie Award for Most Outstanding Drama Series in 2013 and 2014, and 2014 AACTA Award for Best Television Drama Series), and Deep Water. Season 1 of Total Control premiered at TIFF, was the 2019 AACTA Award winner for Best Television Drama, and received MIPCOM Diversify TV’s Excellence Award for Representation of Race and Ethnicity (Scripted).

Documentary series include First Australians, First Contact (2015 Logie for Most Outstanding Factual Program), DNA Nation, HowMad’ Are You?, Filthy Rich & Homeless, Addicted Australia, Books That Made Us, The Australian Wars (aka First Wars), First Weapons and Meet The Neighbours.

Feature documentaries include The Tall Man, Deep Water: The Real Story, In My Own Words, Maralinga Tjarutja, Step Into Paradise, The Dark Emu Story (Official Competition, 2023 Sydney Film Festival) and Lessons from the Unknown.

Darren is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. He serves on the boards of NIDA, the AFI and Sydney Festival

Darren’s tenure as Chair of the Board of Sydney Film Festival commenced on October 17th, 2023.

Nick AbrahamsDirector

Nick is the Global Co-leader, Digital Transformation Practice for top 10 international law firm, Norton Rose Fulbright. He practices in the areas of tech, media, telco and privacy law.

Separately to NRF, he is a disruptor in his own right, having co-founded successful online legal service LawPath 5 years ago. Nick is on the board of ASX300 software company, Integrated Research. He is on the boards of the Garvan Foundation and the Vodafone Foundation.

He is the author of the books Digital Disruption in Australia and Big Data, Big Responsibilities. He has a Masters of Fine Arts (Film Producing) from the University of Southern California Film School (the Peter Stark Program). He was a Creative Executive at Warner Brothers in Los Angeles and worked on the TV shows, ER and The West Wing. He produced the mockumentary Searching for Alison Porchnik featuring Woody Allen and Carol Kane. He wrote and appeared in the TBS TV show The Ugly Gaijin Brothers and is the Founder of The Tokyo Comedy Store – now in its 24th year.

Sally Herman OAMDirector

Sally Herman is an experienced non-executive director in the fields of financial services, retail, manufacturing and property. She had a successful executive career in financial services in both Australia and the US, transitioning in late 2010 to a full-time career as a non-executive director. Sally is also actively involved in the not for profit sector, with a particular interest in the arts, social justice and education.

Sally sits on both listed and unlisted Boards, including three ASX 200 companies, Suncorp Group Limited, Premier Investments Limited and Breville Group Limited. She is also on the Board of Evans Dixon Limited as well as Investec Property Limited and the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust.  Sally is a member of Chief Executive Women.

Debbie LeeDirector

Debbie is Matchbox Pictures’ Director of Scripted Development, where she provides creative leadership to the development of scripted content across a broad range of genres and markets. She also serves as executive producer on various projects – most recently The Heights, Safe Harbour, The Family Law, Mustangs FC and Hungry Ghosts.

Prior to Matchbox, Debbie was ABC TV’s Head of Comedy, where she commissioned shows including A Moody Christmas, Please Like Me, Laid, It’s a Date, Upper Middle Bogan and The Strange Calls. She also spent a number of years at SBS and SBS Independent, starting her career in TV as a production assistant and then becoming series producer for experimental short film program Eat Carpet. This led to several years at SBS Independent as a Commissioning Editor for Drama and Comedy.

Debbie is a passionate advocate for screen stories with distinctive views of the world and believes these stories told well have the power to connect people and build understanding and empathy. She currently also serves as Chair of Diversity Arts Australia, a national organisation committed to making cultural and linguistic diversity a central concern across the creative arts sectors.

Amanda Maple-BrownDirector

Amanda Maple Brown is a versatile filmmaker and dedicated philanthropist with a deep commitment to the Australian independent film scene. While she’s primarily recognized as an actress, her recent project, “Evicted: A Modern Romance,” graced the screens at SFF in 2022, showcasing her multi-faceted talents.

Since 2018, Amanda has played a pivotal role in driving the success of the Young Philanthropist’s Program, known as “The Director’s Lab,” at SFF. Her active involvement has nurtured emerging talent and paved the way for a new generation of creative voices.

Amanda’s passion ignited the creation of the Sustainable Future Award, which has evolved into the world’s most substantial cash prize for films that inspire climate action, now standing at an impressive $40,000 as of 2023.

Her contributions to the intersection of arts and philanthropy are pivotal in shaping a more sustainable and impactful future for the corporate landscape of cinema, where creativity and purpose harmoniously converge, offering a promising horizon for emerging talent.

Zareh NalbandianDirector

Zareh Nalbandian is the Co-Founder of the ground-breaking Animation Studio, Animal Logic, and the Founder and CEO of production companies Animal Logic Entertainment (ALE) and Truant Pictures.

In his role as ALE CEO, Zareh guides the development of an ever-evolving slate of highly commercial, tent-pole feature films and television productions, collaborating with visionary filmmakers and creative partners around the world. Established in 2006, ALE has successfully partnered with major studios and streaming platforms across Hollywood, building a successful stable of animated and hybrid family-film franchises for both theatrical and streaming releases.  ALE’s credits include Zack Snyder’s Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole, and Will Gluck’s Peter Rabbit & Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway. 

Truant Pictures, founded in 2017, collaborates with emerging and established Australian and international talent to develop, finance, and produce high-quality live-action genre films and series for global audiences. Truant is currently in production on Roland Ellis’ The Reunion and Michael Tyburski’s Turn Me On.

Zareh’s producing credits include Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole, Peter Rabbit, Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway, and Executive Producer on Academy Award-winning Happy Feet, Walking with Dinosaurs 3D, The LEGO Movie & The LEGO Batman Movie.

Zareh has always been dedicated to fostering talent through mentorships, residencies, and supporting educational, arts, and creative industry organisations with the goal of developing a broad and diverse range of careers in the screen and arts sectors.

Penny SmallacombeDirector

Penny is a Member of the Maramanindji people, from the Northern Territory in Australia. She has completed a cadetship with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and has a Masters of Arts (Documentary Producing) from the Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS) in Sydney. Between 2004 and 2005 Penny worked in the Indigenous Programs Unit at the ABC. She was selected for Screen Australia’s Indigenous Department’s Producers Initiative in 2011, and also worked as a Senior Programmer for NITV, National Indigenous Television, a division of SBS. She was Head of the First Nations Department at Screen Australia and managed the department for 6 years overseeing a large slate of successful film and television including Total Control, Spear, She Who Must Be Loved, Sweet Country, We Don’t Need a Map, Grace Beside Me, Mystery Road, Sweet As, We Are Still Here and Little J and Big Cuz. She also created numerous special initiatives which have provided  development opportunities for some of Australia’s newest rising writing, directing and producing talents. In 2021 she worked with the renowned production company, Bunya Productions and produced the mini-series True Colours for SBS/NITV.

Frances WallaceChief Executive Officer

Frances Wallace is a globally recognised nonprofit film and cultural leader with 25+ years of experience engaged in large scale festivals and event producing. She is renowned for being an optimistic builder, visionary and creative strategist. Frances’ most recent position was as Executive Director of Frameline, the world’s largest film nonprofit solely dedicated to expanding social justice and cultural strategy through LGBTQ+ media across the US.

In the pandemic, Frances trained as a leadership coach and has guided leaders in nonprofit film, working towards creating more equitable models of growth and sustainability, in these challenging times.

Frances was awarded a Certificate of Honor by the Board of Supervisors of the City of San Francisco for her outstanding contribution to the culture of the city and served for six years on the Board of the Ninth Street Independent Film Center, San Francisco.

Nashen MoodleyFestival Director

Nashen Moodley commenced as Festival Director in January 2012 after stepping down from his role as Manager/Head of Programming of the Durban International Film Festival, South Africa’s longest-running film festival, which he held since 2001. During his ten-year term he was responsible for expanding the content and audiences of the festival and raising the profile of the South African film industry by establishing the Durban FilmMart.

As a highly respected international film programmer, Nashen has worked as an Industry Consultant at the International Film Festival Rotterdam and as a regular expert guest as part of the Programme Events at the Berlinale Talent Campus. Since 2005 he has held the position of Director of Asia and Africa Programmes for the Dubai International Film Festival and has overseen DIFF’s popular Muhr AsiaAfrica competition.

In 2006, Nashen curated the first South African Film Festival in Tehran. He has also been an adviser to several other festivals including India’s International Film Festival of Kerala, South Korea’s Busan International Film Festival and Africala in Mexico City.

Nashen’s film writing and criticism has appeared in newspapers and magazines including GQThe Sunday Independent and The Mail & Guardian online. He is currently the film critic for South Africa’s Sunday Tribune.

Jenny NeighbourHead of Programs & Documentary Programmer

Justin MartyniukProgram Coordinator & Programmer

Lisa KitchingIndustry & Guest Manager

Amy HoogenboomIndustry Events Coordinator

Laura CarlsonGuest Coordinator

Ben AmyGuest Coordinator

Lachlan PasfieldGuest Coordinator

Keira SinclairIndustry Coordinator

Arun ClarkeJury Coordinator

Joshua ForwardHead of Marketing

Dominic EllisDigital Marketing Manager

Liam SeymourDigital Marketing Coordinator

Jacob KneroCampaign Manager

Harry WindsorPublications Manager

Nicole CadelinaMarketing and Publications Coordinator

Hannah DockrillIn-house Graphic Designer

Martin CarrollMaterials and Content Manager

Ahbishek ParasherMaterials and Content Coordinator

WindsorCRM and Ticketing Manager

Christopher WaleTicketing Systems Administrator

Nathan MillsVIP Ticketing Coordinator

Sophie ConstableTicketing Coordinator

Eden TollisHead of Philanthropy

Sasha HoffmannPartnerships Manager

Erin WesthoffPhilanthropy Executive

Madeleine DoylePartnerships and Events Coordinator

Brock TaffeHead of Operations & Events

Onur KaraozbekAssistant Production Manager

Lauren Bacon-FlemingMajor Events Coordinator

Brady TaskerVolunteer Coordinator

Saige BrownOperations & Events Manager

Tracey HurtHead of Finance and Administration

Beatrix BradyFestival Administrator

Julie GiffordAssistant Accountant

Amber Forrest-BisleyDirector, Original Spin

Matt FraserDirector of Communications, Original Spin

Sanika KarnikCommunications Advisor, Original Spin

Lachlan CamilleriOriginal Spin

Richard KuipersFreak Me Out Curator

Ruby Arrowsmith-ToddFLUX Art+Film Co-Curator

Harriet JohnsonFLUX Art+Film Co-Curator

Rebecca McCormackScreenability Curator

Paul MaterekeShorts Programmer

Katherine RogersFamily Programmer

Aaliyah BradburyFirst Nations Curator

Shelly KraicerProgram Consultant

Felix HubbleProgram Advisor

Melba ProestosProgram Advisor

Claire CaoAssistant Program Advisor

Kyle GoldfinchAssistant Program Advisor

Lies BruinesAssistant Program Advisor

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