As well as presenting the best filmmaking from around the world, Sydney Film Festival celebrates the remarkable talents of emerging and esteemed filmmakers with the presentation of nine illustrious awards – and in 2024 will award a record-breaking prize pool of $200,000.
The Official Competition and Sydney Film Prize
The Sydney Film Prize is awarded to the most “audacious, cutting-edge and courageous” film in the Official Competition line-up. The competition is endorsed by FIAPF, the regulating body for international film festivals, and is judged by a jury of filmmakers and industry professionals, who award a $60,000 cash prize to the winning filmmaker.
The 2023 winner of the Sydney Film Prize was The Mother of All Lies, directed by Asmae El Moudir.
Documentary Australia Award for Australian Documentary
Supported by Documentary Australia, this prize acknowledges excellence in Australian documentary production. As well as receiving a $20,000 cash prize, the winning film becomes Academy Award eligible.
The 2023 winner of the Documentary Australia Award was Marungka Tjalatjunu (Dipped in Black), directed by Derik Lynch and Matthew Thorne.
Sustainable Future Award
The Sustainable Future Award, with a cash prize of $40,000, is now the largest environmental film prize in the world. It is made possible through philanthropic support from a syndicate of passionate climate activists. The award recognises a narrative or documentary film of any length that deepens our knowledge and awareness of the impact of the global climate emergency.
All the films shortlisted for the Sustainable Future Award are noted with a green leaf icon:
The 2023 winner of the Sustainable Future Award was Against the Tide, directed by Sarvnik Kaur.
First Nations Award
Announced in February 2024, the inaugural First Nations Award is proudly supported by Truant Pictures with the world’s largest cash prize for Indigenous filmmaking, $35,000. 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.
Dendy Awards for Australian Short Films
SFF’s prestigious Australian Short Film Awards were established in 1970 and have been sponsored by Dendy Cinemas since 1989.
The Dendy Live Action Short Award, sponsored by Dendy Cinemas, provides a $7,000 cash prize to the best Australian short film. Winners are Academy Award eligible.
The 2023 winner of the Dendy Live Action Short Award was The Dancing Girl and the Balloon Man, directed by David Ma.
The Rouben Mamoulian Award, sponsored by Dendy Cinemas and named after the director who first presented the award in 1974, provides a $7,000 cash prize to the best direction of an Australian short film.
The 2023 winner of the Rouben Mamoulian Award was Sophie Somerville, director of Linda 4 Eva.
The Yoram Gross Animation Award, sponsored by Sandra and Guy Gross in memory of the late Yoram Gross, provides a $7,000 cash prize to the best Australian animated short film. Winners are Academy Award eligible.
The 2023 winner of the Yoram Gross Animation Award was Teacups, directed by Alec Green and Finbar Watson.
The AFTRS Craft Award, sponsored by the Australian Film Television and Radio School, provides a $7,000 cash prize for demonstrated excellence by a craft practitioner in an Australian short film.
The 2023 winners of the AFTRS Craft Award were Kalu Oji, Faro Musodza and Makwaya Masudi, screenwriters of What’s In A Name?
The Event Cinemas Rising Talent Award recognises an emerging creative working in short film with a cash prize of $7,000. Open to film creatives, directors and screenwriters who have had no more than five short film credits.
The 2023 winner of the Event Cinemas Rising Talent Award is Robyn Liu, lead actor of The Dancing Girl and the Balloon Man.
Sydney UNESCO City of Film Award
Chris Godfrey was the 2023 recipient of the Sydney UNESCO City of Film Award, which recognises a trailblazing NSW-based practitioner whose work stands for innovation, imagination and high impact, with a $10,000 cash prize awarded by Screen NSW.
GIO Audience Awards
The GIO Audience Awards are SFF’s people’s choice awards, reflecting the most popular films at the Festival as voted by you, the audience. The GIO Audience Awards for Best International Narrative Feature, Best International Documentary, Best Australian Narrative Feature and Best Australian Documentary are announced after the Festival.
Rate the films you see at the Festival and you could win the chance to host your own private screening for 50 friends of an audience award winning films, courtesy of GIO, or other fantastic prizes from Crumpler, SFF cinema venues and restaurant partners.
The 2023 winners of the GIO Audience Awards were:
All Sydney Film Festival Award winners are presented with the Festival’s signature mesmeric swirl award, designed and handmade in Sydney by SFF’s partners Louise Olsen and Stephen Ormandy of Dinosaur Designs.
Official Jury Partner
PARKROYAL Darling Harbour, Sydney is proud to be the official home away from home for SFF’s Awards Juries.