Sydney Film Festival launches 2011 program

11 May, 2011 by IF

Press release from Sydney Film Festival

The full 12 day film festival program was launched today by The Hon. George Souris, Minister for Tourism, Major Events, Hospitality and Racing, Minister for the Arts encompassing 161 titles: 75 features, 39 documentaries, 34 short films, 13 retrospective titles, 10 World premieres, 86 Australian premieres, 42 countries, 47 languages and 29 Australian productions (1 retrospective, 6 features, 10 documentaries, 12 short films).


This year SFF introduces new sponsors and venues into the mix including expanded screenings at Events Cinemas George St, international television marathons at AFTRS, a new talks and festival club venue at Grasshopper Bar in George St and a live site in Martin Place.

“Between our high-octane Opening Night premiere of Joe Wright’s Hanna starring Cate Blanchett and Eric Bana and our Closing Night premiere of Mike Mill’s delicious romantic comedy Beginners with Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer, you will find the very best cinema from around the world.” – said Festival Director Clare Stewart.

“From the daring stylistic approaches in our Official Competition selection through the inspirational subjects and investigations in the FOXTEL Australian Documentary Prize lineup, this year’s festival is a rousing chorus of unfettered vision, enquiry and creativity.”



The Australian premiere of espionage thriller Hanna – directed by Joe Wright (Atonement) and starring Saoirse Ronan, Cate Blanchett and Eric Bana – will kick start the 2011 Sydney Film Festival at the State Theatre on Wednesday June 8 at 7.30pm, followed by an afterparty at The Establishment. Cate Blanchett will be Opening Night guest.


The festival will host its Closing Night Gala at the State Theatre on Sunday 19 June at 7.45pm, with the Australian premiere of Beginners, directed by Mike Mills and featuring Ewan McGregor (SFF’s 2010 guest for Ghost Writer), Christopher Plummer and Mélanie Laurent.


Stars Jack Black, Lucy Liu, Director Jennifer Yuh Nelson and CEO of DreamWorks Animation Jeffrey Katzenberg will be at Sydney Film Festival to introduce the Australian premiere of Kung Fu Panda 2 in 3D on the public holiday Monday 13 June, 6.30pm, at Vmax 1 & 2, Event Cinemas George Street. The stellar cast also includes Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, David Cross, James Hong, Gary Oldman, Michelle Yeoh, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Victor Garber.

Competitive Sections


In its fourth year of FIAPF-accredited Official Competition, SFF is proud to introduce iShares as Official Competition Sponsor. The competition features 12 international titles, in a program of courageous and cutting-edge filmmaking. Jury President Chen Kaige and four jurors will select one film to receive the $60,000 Sydney Film Prize.

2011 Jury President Chen Kaige, is one of China's most prominent and influential film directors. Amongst Chen’s numerous career achievements is the much-loved dramatic feature Farewell My Concubine which became the first Chinese film to win the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for two Academy Awards®. The AustralianPremiere of Chen’s latest film Sacrifice is screening in the 2011 Festival’s Love Me

The 12 titles in this year’s Official Competition line-up are:

• Direct from the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, two Australian films will have their Australian premieres at the 2011 Sydney Film Festival: Sleeping Beauty (Official Competition at Cannes) and Ivan Sen’s Toomelah (Un Certain Regard at Cannes)

• Also direct from screenings at Cannes are The Tree of Life, starring Brad Pitt, Sean Penn and Jessica Chastain, directed by Terrence Malick (Official Competition at Cannes) and Jeff Nichols’ Take Shelter, starring Academy Award® Nominee Michael Shannon (Critics’ Week at Cannes)

• Two award-winners from Berlin Film Festival will also compete: Asghar Farhadi’s A Separation which won Best Film and both Best Acting awards for its ensemble cast and Joshua Marston’s The Forgiveness of Blood which won Best Screenplay.

• Bold and inventive films from Spain – Fernando León de Aranoa’s Amador; Russia – Alexander Zeldovich’s Target and Egypt – Mohamed Diab’s Cairo 678 are also having their Australian Premieres in the Official Competition selection.

• Completing the line-up are the three previously announced films – Attenberg by Athina Rachel Tsangari; The Future by Miranda July and Norwegian Wood directed by Tran Anh Hung.

Confirmed guests for the international competition:

Attenberg – Athina Rachel Tsangari (Director)

The Forgiveness of Blood – Joshua Marston (Director)

The Future – Miranda July (Director)

Sleeping Beauty – Julia Leigh (Director), Jessica Brentnall (Producer) and cast

Target – Alexander Zeldovich (Director)

Toomelah – Ivan Sen (Director), David Jowsey (Producer) and cast


The FOXTEL Australian Documentary Prize acknowledges excellence in local documentary production and is open to factual films of any length. The jury awards a cash prize of $10,000 which is presented at SFF’s Closing Night ceremony on Sunday 19 June.

The 10 selected finalists to be shortlisted for this year’s FOXTEL Australian Documentary Prize include films on subjects as diverse as climate change, rollerskating and sexual expression.

The finalists are:

Carnival Queen: Director, Producer: Amy Gebhardt

A Common Purpose: Director, Producer, Screenwriter: Mitzi Goldman

Dancing with Dictators: Director: Hugh Piper | Producer: Helen Barrow

The Hungry Tide: Director, Producer: Tom Zubrycki

I’m Not Dead Yet: Director, Producer: Janine Hosking

Life In Movement: Directors, Screenwriters, Producers: Bryan Mason, Sophie Hyde

My America: Director: Peter Hegedus | Producers: Peter Hegedus, Jane Jeffes, Trish Lake

Rollerboy: Directors, Screenwriters: Jayson Sutcliffe, Polly Watkins | Producer: Beth Frey

Scarlet Road: Director: Catherine Scott. Producer: Pat Fiske.

Shut Up Little Man! An Audio Misadventure: Director, Screenwriter: Matthew Bate Producers: Sophie Hyde, Matthew Bate


The prestigious Dendy Awards for Australian Short Films have launched and aided the careers of many Australian filmmakers and have been sponsored by Dendy Cinemas for 23 years.

• The Live Action Short Award, sponsored by Dendy Cinemas, provides a $5,000 cash prize to the best Australian short film. Winners are Academy Award® eligible.

• The Yoram Gross Animation Award, sponsored by Yoram and Sandra Gross, provides a $4,000 cash prize to the best Australian animated 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 $5,000 cash prize to the best Australian short film director.

Established in 1970, these awards have sparked the careers of many Australian filmmakers. Recent winners include The Lost Thing, directed by Shaun Tan and Andrew Ruhemann which subsequently won this year’s Academy Award® for Best Animated Short Film.

All Dendy Awards finalists screen with the FOXTEL Australian Documentary Prize finalists throughout the festival. Additionally they screen together in one session Saturday 18 June 2.15pm Events Cinema 4.

The nominees are:

Live Action:

At the Formal: Director, Screenwriter: Andrew Kavanagh. Producer: Ramona Telicican.

Comfortable: Director, Screenwriter: Laura Dudgeon. Producers: Mathew Chuang, Laura Dudgeon.

Cropped: Director, Screenwriter: Dave Wade. Producer: Bettina Hamilton.

The Palace: Director, Screenwriter: Anthony Maras. Producers: Anthony Maras, Kate Croser.

Peekaboo: Director, Screenwriter: Damien Power. Producer: Joe Weatherstone.

Tethered: Director, Screenwriter: Craig Irvin. Producer: Ashley Harris.

Two Laps: Director, Screenwriter: Owen Trevor. Producer: Lucas Jenner.


Fragments: Directors, Producers: George Varettas, Cosmin Hrincu

The Missing Key: Director, Screenwriter: Jonathan Nix. Producers: Garth Nix, Anna McFarlane, Jonathan Nix.

Nullarbor: Directors: Alister Lockhart, Patrick Sarell. Producers: Katrina Mathers, Merrin Jensen, Patrick Sarell, Daryl Munton.