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) and First Weapons.

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

Darren is currently producing a third season of Total Control, documentary series Meet The Neighbours and feature documentary 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 commences 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 23rd 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, Animal Logic’s Co-Founder and CEO, has been managing, developing and producing large-scale screen projects for over 25 years.  He has collaborated with iconic directors, producers and artists on some of the most successful feature films of our time. Since leading Animal Logic’s expansion into feature film visual effects in 1996 and feature animation in 2006, Zareh has guided one of the most respected and admired artistic and technical cultures in the industry, earning his reputation as a world leader in the fields of film development, animation, visual effects and production.

Zareh was Executive Producer on Academy Award winning Happy Feet, he produced the animated adventure Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole, directed by Zack Snyder which was produced entirely at Animal Logic’s studios in Sydney, Australia. Most recently Zareh served as Executive Producer on The LEGO® Batman Movie and is currently Producer on Peter Rabbit (2018) and Executive Producer on The LEGO® Ninjago Movie (2017) and The LEGO® Movie Sequel (2019).

Zareh is committed to building a successful, globally competitive digital production industry in Australia. He enjoys strong personal relationships with key US Studio Executives and leading Directors and Producers, in addition to the continued day-to day management of the company. Zareh guides the development of an exciting slate of feature film properties and continues to push the boundaries of digital storytelling.

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

Joshua ForwardHead of Marketing

Dominic EllisDigital Marketing Manager

WindsorCRM & Ticketing Manager

Eden TollisHead of Philanthropy

Sasha HoffmannPartnerships Manager

Erin WesthoffPhilanthropy Executive

Brock TaffeHead of Operations

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

Isabelle BrownCommunications Advisor, Original Spin

Richard KuipersFreak Me Out Curator

Ruby Arrowsmith-ToddFLUX Art+Film Guest Curator

Rebecca McCormackScreenability Curator

Paul MaterekeShorts Programmer

Paul StruthersProgram Consultant

Shelly KracierProgram Consultant

Felix HubbleProgram Advisor

Melba ProestosProgram Advisor

Claire CaoAssistant Program Advisor

Lies BruinesAssistant Program Advisor

Kyle GoldfinchAssistant Program Advisor

Marryana SalemAssistant Program Advisor

Karina LibbeyProgram Guide Contributor

Jim PoeProgram Guide Contributor

Ian BarrProgram Guide Contributor

Annie ParnellTFF Manager

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