[press release from Sydney Film Festival]

Significant changes have been made to the 2009 Sydney Film Festival’s Australian Short Film Competition. The awards have been simplified, and now focus on two main categories, the Best Live Action Short Film Award and the Yoram Gross Animation Award.

The winners of both of these awards are Academy Award© eligible.

In addition, the SFF will continue to award the overall short film prize, The Rouben Mamoulian Award, established in 1974, and The CRC Award, now in its 18th year.

Short film awards have launched or aided the careers of many Australian filmmakers. Past winners of Dendy Short Film Awards include some of Australia’s most respected filmmakers such as Jane Campion, Phillip Noyce, David Caesar, Bob Connolly, Robin Anderson and Gillian Armstrong.

“These awards recognise that short films provide a measurable development pathway to feature film production, and just as importantly, acknowledge that creatively the short is also a form unto itself. Through the SFF’s Australian Short Film Awards, we provide a powerful context in which filmmakers encounter audiences for their work, often for the first time.” said Clare Stewart, SFF Festival Director.

Australian Documentary Prize
The former short documentary award has been replaced with a new prize for Australian-produced documentaries of any length. This will allow filmmakers with productions over an hour in length to compete at the Sydney Film Festival for the first time, while also allowing short documentaries to continue to compete.

Submissions are welcome from Australian filmmakers wishing to submit their films for either of these competitions. The entry deadline is 23 March 2009.

20 years of Dendy Sponsorship
Proving their commitment to Australian cinema, Dendy Cinemas are once again sponsoring the SFF’s Australian Short Film Awards. The structure of the Dendy Awards for Australian Short Films has been reinvented for the 2009 festival. In line with the Academy Awards© there will be a Live Action category (cash prize $5,000) for films under 40 minutes in length.

The Yoram Gross Animation Award (cash prize $4,000) sponsored by Yoram and Sandra Gross, will again be open to animated short films from Australia.

The CRC Award (cash prize $5,000) sponsored by the Community Relations Commission For a multicultural NSW will be given to a film whose content reflects the multicultural experience in Australia from either the Australian Short Film Awards or the Australian Documentary Prize.

2009 Screening Structure
The festival has also changed the way that short films and documentaries in competition screen within the festival.

In 2009 the finalists in the Dendy Awards for Australian Short Films (Live Action and Yoram Gross Animation Award) and the finalists in the Australian Documentary Prize will screen as double bills, with one short film and one documentary finalist per session, across the festival, giving festivalgoers more options to see the shortlisted films.

Full regulations for the Live Action, Animation, CRC Award and Australian Documentary Prize are available for download at www.sff.org.au/submissions. The closing date for entries is Monday 23 March 2009.

The Peter Rasmussen Innovation Award: Call for Nominations
Established by a board of trustees made up of friends and collaborators of the innovative Australian filmmaker Peter Rasmussen who have committed to raise the funds in perpetuity for the purpose of awarding a $5,000 cash prize, the ‘Peter Rasmussen Innovation Award’, is given each year at Sydney Film Festival to an Australian whose work in film, machinima or new media embodies a visionary spirit and a relentless determination in the face of obstacles – financial or otherwise – to create high quality works for the screen.

The recipient’s work may be described as fringe, maverick, innovative. It may be pushing boundaries in form or mode of production, and may sit outside the usual categories of films shown at the festival. For further details, please contact the festival office at program@sff.org.au or call 9630 5305. The closing date for nominations is 1 April 2009.

Summary: Dendy Awards for Australian Short Film, Australian Documentary Prize, Peter Rasmussen Innovation Award
• Australian Documentary Prize (cash prize $5,000)
• Live Action Award for films under 40 minutes (cash prize $5,000, sponsored by Dendy Cinemas)
• The Rouben Mamoulian Award for Best Overall Short (cash prize $5,000)
• The Yoram Gross Animation Award (cash prize $4,000, sponsored by Yoram and Sandra Gross)
• The CRC Award (cash prize $5,000, sponsored by the Community Relations Commission For a multicultural NSW)
• Peter Rasmussen Innovation Award (cash prize $5,000)

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