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Sydney Film Festival 2016 program released

The full line-up for this year’s Sydney Film Festival has been announced, with a strong contingency of Australian films in the 2016 program.

Ivan Sen’s Goldstone will not only open Sydney Film Festival (SFF), but it will be the only Australian film this year to screen in competition.

It is not Sen’s first appearance at the festival. In 2013, Mystery Road opened SFF, and Toomelah also screened in competition some five years ago. Now Goldstone will be one of the 12 films vying for the Sydney Film Prize in 2016.

SFF Festival Director Nashen Moodley says Goldstone – which Sen has called a ‘spin-off’ of Mystery Road – is tremendous work from a special Australian talent.

“Ivan is a really multitalented filmmaker who does it all himself – he writes, directs, shoots the film, composes the music,” he says.

“And I think what he's done with Goldstone is that he’s put together so many different elements to create a really effective and tense thriller.”

Goldstone will compete for the $60,000 cash prize along with films such as Boo Junfeng’s Apprentice and Aquarius by Kleber Mendonça Filho.

The festival line-up is brimming with Australian stories, says Moodley, from Abe Forsythe’s black comedy Down Under,about the aftermath of the Cronulla riots, to the ten Australian documentaries selected to compete for the Documentary Australia Foundation Award.

Moodley says it’s one of the wonderful things about Australian cinema – that it creates such a broad range of stories.

He thinks Australian cinema cannot be characterised by any one particular thing.

“And to me that’s very important,” he says.

“You have very different types of films, whether they're comedies or serious drama or horror films, and you have a range of budgets, so while there’s Gatsby and Mad Max, you also have flourishing independent filmmakers.”

Moodley, who was Head of Programming at the Durban International Film Festival for 11 years before becoming SFF Festival Director in 2012, says Australian cinema is highly regarded across the globe.

“International festivals look for Australian films and want to screen them, and usually find there's a very good crop to choose from,” he says.

“When you look at most major festivals in the world you generally have very strong Australian representation.”

Moodley says Australians themselves have a voracious appetite for cinema, with attendance at SFF on the rise over the past few years.

“The cinemas are full and we have a very knowledgeable audience who care a great deal about cinema and festivals. Last year we had 176,000 in attendance at the festival, which is really wonderful to see.”

Sydney Film Festival runs from 8-19 June. Check out the program at sff.org.au