In 2019 the Official Competition celebrates 12 years of awarding the Sydney Film Prize to each year’s most “audacious, cutting-edge and courageous” film. The competition is endorsed by FIAPF, the regulating body for international film festivals, and is judged by a jury of international and Australian filmmakers and industry professionals. The $60,000 cash prize is presented at SFF’s Closing Night ceremony on Sunday 16 June.
Official Competition Jury
John Maynard: John has a long career in the visual arts. He was the founding director (1970) of the public art museum, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery in New Zealand, which now houses the works of pioneer filmmaker and kinetic sculptor Len Lye. For more than 10 years John was the Director of The Len Lye Foundation – at the same time producing feature films. John is well known as a producer with an eye for talent, producing the debut feature films from a number of directors – Jane Campion, Vincent Ward, Rowan Woods, Robert Connolly, Richard Roxburgh, and Kasimir Burgess. John has had three films In Competition in Cannes (an unrivalled Australian record). With partner Bridget Ikin he co-produced Jane Campion’s An Angel At My Table, winner of the ‘Silver Lion’ in Venice in 1990. The Boys, John’s first collaboration with producer Robert Connolly, debuted In Competition at Berlin in 1998. In 2007, John received the AFI Award for Best Film for Romulus, My Father (co-produced with Robert Connolly), and in 1989 for The Navigator.
Ana Kokkinos: Acclaimed writer/director Ana Kokkinos’ career spans Film and TV. Her feature film Blessed (2009) was selected for Main Competition at San Sebastian (where it won the Jury Prize for Best Screenplay). Blessed was in Official Selection at the Toronto, London, Palm Springs and the Giffoni Children’s film festival in Italy, where it won best film as voted by an international jury of 700 teenagers. Ana’s first full-length feature Head On was selected for Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes. Her other films include The Book of Revelation and Only the Brave, which won 3 AFI’s, including Best Film. Ana’s TV credits include The Secret Life of Us, Eugenie Sandler PI (winner of an AFI Award for Best Children’s TV Drama), Mustangs FC and Seven Types of Ambiguity for producer Amanda Higgs and ABC/Matchbox. She has recently finished directing three of four episodes of The Hunting for SBS and Closer Films featuring Richard Roxburgh and Asher Keddie. Ana was a Board member of Film Victoria for nine years and was an industry mentor at the Australian Film, Television and Radio School in 2007. She is a current Member of the NIDA Company. In 2010 Ana was honoured at the Seattle International Film Festival as an emerging master filmmaker.
Gaylene Preston: Dame Gaylene Preston, ONZM, is one of New Zealand’s most valued filmmakers, working across drama and documentary for cinema and television. Many of her films, including War Stories Our Mothers Never Told Us, Bread and Roses, Home by Christmas, and My Year With Helen are classics of NZ cinema, notable for the strength of her human connections and deep commitment to telling New Zealand stories. Preston’s films have been in the official selection for Venice, Sundance, Toronto, London, Sydney, Melbourne, and NZ film festivals and have won awards in USA, Canada, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Switzerland, Russia, Australia, and NZ. She is a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, an Officer of the NZ Order of Merit and NZ Arts Foundation Filmmaker Laureate. She has received lifetime achievement/industry contribution awards from leading film organisations as well as Women of Influence and New Zealander of the Year arts category awards.
Wagner Moura: Wagner Moura was born in Salvador, Bahia in 1976. In 2007 he starred in José Padilha’s Elite Squad, who won that year’s Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival. In 2015 Moura played Pablo Escobar in Netflix’s critically acclaimed series Narcos, garnering both him and the show Golden Globe nominations. Wagner Moura is a United Nation’s International Labour Organization Goodwill Ambassador and has for over a decade been advocating for laws and political campaigns to help end forced labour. In 2018 he produced and starred in the titular role of Sergio, a Netflix original film about Brazilian UN High Commissioner For Human Rights Sergio Vieira de Mello, who was killed in Iraq in 2003. Moura and his wife Sandra Delgado, a Brazilian photographer and documentarian, reside both in Los Angeles and in their native Bahia with their three sons, Bem, Salvador and José. Marighella is Wagner Moura’s feature directing debut.
Ritu Sarin: Ritu Sarin is an Indian filmmaker and artist based in India. Ritu and her partner Tenzing Sonam have been making films together since the mideighties when, as students, they made their first award-winning documentary, The New Puritans: The Sikhs of Yuba City. They lived and worked as independent filmmakers in the San Francisco Bay Area and then in London for many years before moving back to India in 1996. Through their production company, White Crane Films, which they started in 1991, they have made several documentary films, video installations and two dramatic feature films. Their documentary films include: The Reincarnation of Khensur Rinpoche (1991), The Trials of Telo Rinpoche (1993), and The Shadow Circus: The CIA in Tibet (1998), all commissioned by the BBC. Their documentary, The Sun Behind the Clouds (2009), was theatrically released in the US and kicked off with a twoweek run at New York’s Film Forum. It won the Vaclav Havel Award at the One World Film Festival in Prague. Their latest documentary, When Hari Got Married (2012), premiered at Films From the South, Oslo, and has shown at DOK Leipzig and IDFA. Their debut feature film, Dreaming Lhasa (2005), was executive produced by Jeremy Thomas and Richard Gere, and had its world premiere at Toronto International Film Festival and its European premiere at San Sebastian International Film Festival. Their video installations have shown at the Contour Biennale (Belgium), Kunsthalle Vienna, Khoj Studios (New Delhi), Mori Art Museum (Tokyo), Busan Biennale and Thyssen Bornemisza Art Contemporary (Vienna), among other venues. Their latest film, The Sweet Requiem, had its world premiere at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival. In 2012 they launched the Dharamshala International Film Festival, which is now one of India’s leading independent film festivals.
This prize is supported by Documentary Australia Foundation with a $10,000 cash partnership acknowledging excellence in documentary production. Up to 10 films of any length are selected for the competition, and the jury awards the cash prize at SFF’s Closing Night ceremony. Winners are Academy Award eligible.
The Sydney-UNESCO City of Film Award
2019 Winner: Blackfella Films
This annual award recognises a trailblazing NSW-based screen practitioner whose work stands for innovation, imagination and extraordinary impact. Create NSW awards a $10,000 cash prize to the winner at SFF’s Closing Night ceremony on Sunday 16 June.
SFF’s prestigious Australian Short Film Awards were established in 1970 and have been sponsored by Dendy Cinemas for over 26 years. The awards are presented at SFF’s Closing Night ceremony on Sunday 16 June.
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 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 Australian short film director.
2019 Winner of Yoram Gross Animation Award: Sohrab and Rustum
The Yoram Gross Animation Award, sponsored by Sandra and Guy Gross in memory of the late Yoram Gross, provides a $5,000 cash prize to the best Australian animated short film. Winners are Academy Award eligible.
Event Cinemas Australian Short Screenplay Award
2019 Winner: Ties That Bind
The Event Cinemas Australian Short Screenplay Award, sponsored by Event Cinemas, provides a $5,000 cash prize for the best short screenwriting. All Australian short films screening in the festival are eligible for this award.
The Audience Awards are SFF’s people’s choice awards, and the winners reflect the most popular films at the Festival.
IGTV Film Festival
2019 Winner: The Gift
Launched in 2019, the IGTV Film Festival is a joint effort from Instagram, VICE, and Sydney Film Festival for young Australians to create short films that picture their future world through the lens of the people, passions, and issues they care about most. The winner receives $5000 in prize money and $2500 worth of rental for camera and lenses furnished by Panavision.
All Sydney Film Festival Award winners are presented with the Festival’s signature mesmeric swirl award, designed and handmade in Sydney by our partners Louise Olsen and Stephen Ormandy of Dinosaur Designs.