Blackfella Films producer Darren Dale has been appointed Sydney Film Festival (SFF) board chair, taking over from Deanne Weir, who has announced her retirement after eight years on the board.
A director of Blackfella Films since 2000, Dale is known for titles such as The Dark Emu Story, Mabo, First Contact, Filthy Rich and Homeless and Redfern Now.
He is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and has board experience at ACMI and Sydney Festival, as well as the SFF, while also holding leadership positions at Screen NSW and the Australian Film Television and Radio School.
Dale, who becomes the first Indigenous and industry practitioner to hold the position of board chair, said it was both an honour and a privilege to take on the role, having drawn “great inspiration” from the event throughout his career.
“Under Nashen Moodley’s exemplary artistic leadership, SFF not only showcases the very best of global cinema but also has an essential and unwavering commitment to platforming the works of emerging filmmakers from diverse backgrounds including a commitment to First Nations filmmaking that is truly unique in the world,” he said.
“I am excited to get to work alongside [Sydney Film Festival director] Nashen and CEO Frances Wallace on the continuing evolution of this remarkable festival.”
He also paid tribute to Weir who he said has “set a very high benchmark” in her time as chair.
“[Weir is] a passionate and dedicated leader as well as an indefatigable advocate for the festival and the wider industry and I want to thank her for her exceptional stewardship and look forward to continuing and expanding on her legacy,” he said.
Weir said she left the organisation “in inspirational hands”.
“I have loved working with the board, Nashen, Frances, and the whole SFF team, and I am very grateful for their support,” she said.
“Their passion for film, their respect for our filmmakers, and their joy in delivering a wonderful festival experience for our audiences has ensured that our festival is loved around the world, and is an important part of both Sydney’s cultural calendar, and the fabric of Australia’s screen industry.”
In a joint statement, Sydney Film Festival director Nashen Moodley and CEO Frances Wallace said Dale’s appointment filled them with “immense excitement”.
“His unwavering commitment to storytelling, particularly from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives, assures us of a transformative era for the festival,” they said.