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Sydney Film Festival June 4 - 22
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Full jury list for Sydney Festival new competition

The full Jury for its inaugural Official Competition.  Australian actress Essie Davis and LA film writer and critic Scott Foundas will join Jury President Gillian Armstrong, Hong Kong producer Nansun Shi and Iranian director/writer/producer Majid Majidi.

Running 4-22 June, Sydney Film Festival has opened with the one of the Official Competition films, Mike Leigh's Happy-Go-Lucky.  All 12 Competition films will have a Red Carpet Premiere over the first 12 nights of the festival.

All Jury members will attend Sydney Film Festival to determine the winner of the AUD$60,000 Sydney Film Prize for new directions in film.  The Jury will work as a collegial ensemble, viewing all 12 Competition films and assessing the merits of each within the criteria of ‘audacious, cutting-edge and courageous filmmaking'.  The Prize will be announced on Monday 16 June 2008 at Sydney Opera House.

Sydney Film Festival is Australia's first film festival to have a FIAPF-accredited Official Competition.  The 12 Official Competition films are: 3 World Premieres: Vincent Ward's Rain of the Children (New Zealand), Nash Edgerton's The Square (Australia) and Matthew Newton's Three Blind Mice (Australia); and 9 Australian Premieres: Mike Leigh's Happy-Go-Lucky (UK), Steve McQueen's Hunger (UK), Martin McDonagh's In Bruges (UK/Belgium), Fernando Eimbcke's Lake Tahoe (Mexico), Guy Maddin's My Winnipeg (Canada), Antonello Grimaldi's Quiet Chaos (Italy), Carlos Reygadas' Silent Light (Mexico/France/The Netherlands), Kimberly Peirce's Stop-Loss (USA), and Kiyoshi Kurosawa's Tokyo Sonata (Japan/The Netherlands/Hong Kong).

Sydney Film Festival Executive Director Clare Stewart, said today from Sydney, "The inaugural jury is given further depth and a broad range of perspectives by the addition of Australian actress Essie Davis and American film critic Scott Foundas.  I am thrilled with our stellar line-up, lead by Gillian Armstrong as President and rounded out by Iranian director Majid Majidi and Hong Kong producer Nansun Shi, and trust that Sydney Film Festival's Official Competition filmmakers will consider their films well served by this world-class line-up."

The Official Competition is supported by the New South Wales government, which pledged AUD$1.8 million over four years in September 2007.  The AUD$60,000 Sydney Film Prize is generously provided by SFF's Principal sponsor, Hunter Hall Investment Management.  The winner will also receive a unique award created by Australia's Dinosaur Designs.

Jury President Gillian Armstrong said from Sydney today, "As a young filmmaker the very first prizes I received for my short films were from the SFF, so I couldn't be more thrilled and honoured to be the Sydney Film Festivals' inaugural Jury President.  I'm excited to welcome such a diverse and talented jury.  Hopefully we'll have a lot of fun together, viewing and dissecting these films for Sydney's very first Official Competition."

Since training at NIDA, Tasmanian-born actress Essie Davis' performances have spanned stage and screen.  Her films include Girl with a Pearl Earring (2003), Code 46 (2005), Charlotte's Web (2006), Hey Hey It's Esther Blueburger (2008) and Isolation (2006), for which Davis won a Screamfest LA Best Actress Award.  Davis has received numerous awards and nominations including an AFI for After the Deluge (2003); a Laurence Olivier Award for Best Supporting Actress for A Streetcar Named Desire (2003) playing opposite Glenn Close; and a Tony nomination for the Broadway production of Tom Stoppard's Jumpers (2004).  Audiences will see her next in Baz Luhrmann's Australia.

Scott Foundas is film editor and critic for LA Weekly, as well as a regular contributor to The Village Voice and other Village Voice Media publications.  He has also contributed to Variety, The New York Times and Cinema Scope.  A member of Los Angeles Film Critics Association and National Society of Film Critics, Foundas has served on official juries at Cannes, Sundance and Vancouver film festivals.  In 2007, Foundas joined the New York Film Festival's selection committee.  He is currently nominated for the 2008 Association of Alternative Newsweeklies' AltWeekly award (Arts Criticism).

Gillian Armstrong (Jury President) is a Patron and long time supporter of Sydney Film Festival whose association goes back to the 1970s when the festival screened her early films.  Her impressive body of work includes feature films My Brilliant Career (1979), The Last Days of Chez Nous (1992), Little Women (1994), Oscar and Lucinda (1997), and most recently Death Defying Acts (2007).  Her acclaimed documentaries include Not Fourteen Again (1996) and Unfolding Florence (2006).

Majid Majidi is an internationally critically acclaimed Iranian director, producer and screenwriter.  His film The Song of Sparrows (screening at SFF 2008) won best actor for Reza Najie at Berlin Film Festival 2008.  His films as writer/director include the Academy Award nominated The Children of Heaven (1997), The Colour of Paradise (1999), Baran (2001) and The Willow Tree (2005).

Named one of the 50 most influential indie filmmakers/players around the world by Variety (2005), Nansun Shi is a highly regarded Hong Kong film producer, presenter and principal of successful Hong Kong production company Film Workshop.  Her recent productions include Dragon Tiger Gate (2006), and Seven Swords (2005) and Missing (2008).  Shi was a member of the Official Competition Jury at Berlin Film Festival in 2007.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sydney Film Festival screens feature films, documentaries, short films and animations across the city at State Theatre, Greater Union George Street Cinemas, Metro Theatre and Dendy Opera Quays.  The festival is a major event on the New South Wales cultural calendar and is one of the world's longest running film festivals.  In 2008, SFF introduces the inaugural Official International Competition, a FIAPF-accredited competition for ‘new directions in film', which rewards courageous and audacious filmmaking.

The 55th Sydney Film Festival opens on Wednesday 4 June 2008, with the Official Competition red carpet galas screening for the first 12 days, culminating in an Awards ceremony on Monday 16 June.  The Closing Night Gala is on Saturday 21 June with the festival finishing on Sunday 22 June.

The 55th Sydney Film Festival 4-22 June 2008 For more information visit www.sydneyfilmfestival.org

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Wendy Dent

Wendy Dent reports from Sydney Film Festival

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