With the announcement of the prize winners and the screening of the closing night film BEGINNERS, this year's Sydney Film Festival has come to an end. For me, it was a most enjoyable experience, as I got to see some truly excellent films. I am grateful to the organisers for giving me access to tickets and screeners, and would like to thank especially the lovely staff at the Media Centre, who were extremely patient with us 'media people'. I think we sometimes forget that it is not at all about us, and therefore we really shouldn't be getting upset about things like the limited availability of media tickets, or the freshness of the fruits provided to us.
After all, it is all about the films, and I think the organisers have done a stellar job with their selection of this year's films. As I was watching a screener, I overheard festival staff discussing someone's comments about the Festival being schizophrenic, in that it was screening blockbusters like KUNG FU PANDA 2, while at the same time showed many arthouse films of special interests. I think having such a diversified program is actually the strength of a festival like Sydney Film Festival. As such, instead of 'schizophrenic', I think it is actually splendid, almost sensational, and hopefully it will become increasingly significant in the cinematic world over the coming years.
Now onto the award winners. Iranian film A SEPARATION was awarded the Australian $60,000 Sydney Film Prize by a jury headed by acclaimed Chinese director Chen Kaige. "This film looks beneath the surface of relations between men and women in Iran in a way that raises questions about law, freedom and feminine and masculine honour. It is an extremely courageous film, successfully executed,' Chen commented.
The $10,000 Australian Documentary Prize went to LIFE IN MOVEMENT, a portrait of Tanja Liedtke, who tragically died on the night of taking up appointment as artistic director at the Sydney Dance Company. The $5,000 Community Relations Commission Award was won by Chinese-Australian co-production 33 POSTCARDS. THE PALACE won the Award for Best Live Action Film, while NULLARBOR took home the Animation Award. Finally, Dario Russo, creator of internet sensation the ITALIAN SPIDERMAN series, won this year's Innovation Award.