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.
Announcing the inaugural First Nations Film Award
Announcements January 29 2024
Sydney Film Festival announces new First Nations Award proudly supported by Truant Pictures with the world's largest cash prize for Indigenous filmmaking.

Sydney Film Festival announces the launch of the First Nations Award, establishing the world’s largest cash prize for Indigenous filmmaking at $35,000, proudly supported by Truant Pictures. 

Open to First Nations filmmakers from across the globe, the First Nations Award celebrates the profound contributions of First Nations filmmakers to the cinematic landscape. Any film, including short films, featured within the Festival’s First Nations program automatically qualifies for consideration for the award, with the winner announced at the SFF Closing Night on 16 June.

Sydney Film Festival Chair Darren Dale said, “It is entirely fitting that the Sydney Film Festival, which for so long has been a champion of First Nations stories and storytellers from around the world, now offers the largest single cash prize for First Nations film, globally. This prize will inspire, motivate and reward established and emerging First Nations filmmakers with the promise that their art is important, is valued and will be seen. This extraordinary award has been made possible thanks to the generous and visionary leadership of Zareh and Ping Nalbandian and we are so grateful for this impactful gift.” 

Festival Director Nashen Moodley, said, “The First Nations Award is more than a celebration of unique storytelling; it’s a crucial investment in the future of Indigenous cinema. By offering this level of support, we hope to encourage more First Nations filmmakers to share their stories, enriching the film industry with diverse perspectives and voices. This award aligns seamlessly with Sydney Film Festival’s long-standing commitment to fostering cultural diversity and amplifying Indigenous narratives.” 

Zareh Nalbandian, CEO/Producer Animal Logic Entertainment and Truant Pictures, said, “Ping and I are honoured to support the Sydney Film Festival’s First Nations Award through our independent Australian production company Truant Pictures. The Award speaks volumes about SFF’s mission to support global Indigenous voices and support diversity in storytelling.  We are excited to experience the rich tapestry of First Nations films and showcase these stories as part of the Festival in June.  We hope this elevation of Indigenous voices serves as a catalyst for fostering continued dialogue, bridging cultural gaps, and empowering First Nations voices worldwide.”

Filmmakers from across Australia and around the world have just weeks to finalise their submissions to become eligible for a record prize pool worth $200,000 at the 71st Sydney Film Festival, including the $60,000 Sydney Film Prize and the world’s largest environment film prize of $40,000 with the Sustainable Future Award. 

The entry deadline for all film submissions, including those for the First Nations Award, is 01 March 2024.

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