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09 05 2018 - Media release

Sydney Film Festival celebrates 25 years of Indigenous storytelling


Payback is one of the short films from 1996's From Sand to Celluloid

The 65th Sydney Film Festival (6–17 June) presents First Nations: A Celebration, in partnership with Screen Australia’s Indigenous Department, in celebration of its 25th anniversary.

Boosting the voices of First Nation storytellers, the program will showcase new documentaries and short films by First Nation filmmakers from across Australia and around the world, alongside From Little Things Big Things Grow, a retrospective of short films funded by Screen Australia’s Indigenous Department.

“Sydney Film Festival is proud to celebrate 25 years of Screen Australia’s Indigenous Department, showcasing exceptional First Nation filmmakers and storytelling,” said Festival Director Nashen Moodley.

“From the heart of the Navajo Nation to the sweeping Northern Territory desert, the program includes excellent examples of outstanding Indigenous cinema from emerging talents and established filmmakers alike,” he said.

“This year the First Nations program coincides with the 25th anniversary of Screen Australia’s Indigenous Department, of which the festival is a long term partner. This is a perfect opportunity to revisit some of the incredible films funded by the Department in its early beginnings,” said Penny Smallacombe, Head of Indigenous at Screen Australia.

“The extraordinary achievements of these funded filmmakers have changed the industry landscape to a place where our mob and their talents are celebrated not only in Australia, but internationally as well. And trust me, these films are just as powerful today as they were when they were first made,” she said.

New Australian First Nation documentaries to screen are: Finke: There & Back, from past SFF Documentary Australia Foundation Award winner Dylan River, following one of the world’s longest and most dangerous off-road motor races; Grant Saunders’ autobiographical journey Teach a Man to Fish, produced by Tom Zubrycki; and Dean Gibson’s Wik vs Queensland, chronicling the High Court of Australia’s historic granting of native title to the Wik People.

First Nations: A Celebration will also screen new short films from emerging Indigenous Australian talent, including Hunter Page-Lochard’s Djali, Tyson Mowarin’s Undiscovered Country, and Yulibidyi – Until the End, co-directed by Curtis Taylor.

The program will also screen two short films by First Nations filmmakers around the world: Navajo filmmaker Shaandiin Tome’s Mud, and Daughter of the Sun, from Sami filmmaker Sara Margrethe Oskal.

The Retrospective (From Little Things Big Things Grow) includes 19 outstanding short films from 15 filmmakers, across four showcases: From Sand to Celluloid, Shifting Sands, Crossing Tracks, and Dreaming in Motion. Shorts by acclaimed directors include Warwick Thornton’s Payback and Mimi, Ivan Sen’s Tears and Wind, Wayne Blair’s Black Talk, Richard Frankland’s No Way to Forget and Harry’s War, and current Sydney Festival Director Wesley Enoch’s Grace.

Indigenous Australian filmmakers Dylan River (Finke: There & Back), Grant Saunders (Teach a Man to Fish) and Dean Gibson (Wik vs Queensland), as well as various filmmakers from across the Retrospective, will attend as guests to introduce their films.

Retrospective filmmakers and former funders will also come together to discuss 25 years of industry change at the 25 Years of Screen Australia’s Indigenous Department talk at the Art Gallery of New South Wales (Sunday 17 June at 3.45pm).

Since the Indigenous Department at Screen Australia was established, it has provided over $35 million in funding for development, production and talent escalation, with over 160 titles having hit screens in that period. The work of the Department and its partners is credited with forever changing Indigenous representation on screens, and ensuring Indigenous people can tell their own screen stories. The funding model has been so successful it has recently been replicated in Canada. Sydney Film Festival has helped bring these works to festival audiences for many years and have been a valued partner.

The full Sydney Film Festival 2018 program can be found online at sff.org.au


Amber Forrest-Bisley | Publicity Manager | Cardinal Spin

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From Wednesday 6 June to Sunday 17 June 2018, the 65th Sydney Film Festival offers Sydneysiders another exciting season of cinema amidst a whirlwind of premieres, red-carpet openings, in-depth discussions, international guests and more.

Sydney Film Festival also presents an Official Competition of 12 films that vie for the Sydney Film Prize, a highly respected honour that awards a $60,000 cash prize based on the decision of a jury of international and Australian filmmakers and industry professionals. Previous Sydney Film Prize winners: On Body and Soul (2017); Aquarius (2016); Arabian Nights (2015); Two Days, One Night (2014); Only God Forgives (2013); Alps (2012); A Separation (2011); Heartbeats (2010); Bronson (2009); and Hunger (2008).

The Festival is a major event on the New South Wales cultural calendar and is one of the world’s longest-running film festivals. For more information visit: sff.org.au.

The 65th Sydney Film Festival is supported by the NSW Government through Create NSW and Destination NSW, the Federal Government through Screen Australia and the City of Sydney. The Festival’s Strategic Partner is the NSW Government via its tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW.

Media enquiries

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