The State Theatre on Wednesday saw the Sydney Film Festival opening in a lively evening of glitz and glamour despite unrelenting showers.

NSW Arts Minister Frank Sartor opened the event along with executive director Clare Stewart and festival president Virginia Gordon, whom proudly announced the 55th Sydney Film Festival’s inaugural Official Competition Jury.

Alongside head of jury, acclaimed director Gillian Armstrong (My Brilliant Career, Death Defying Acts), who will make the crucial decision on who will win the $60,000 prize are Australia actress Essie Davis (Hey Hey It’s Esther Blueburger, Australia), Los Angeles film writer and critic at The Village Voice Scott Foundas, Hong Kong film producer and presenter Nansun Shi, and critically acclaimed Iranian director, producer and screenwriter Majid Majidi (The Children of Heaven).

The screening opened with an unexpected showing of 2007 Tropfest winner Steve Baker’s animated short, Dog with Electric Collar; followed by the Official Competition film, the world premiere of Mike Leigh’s Happy-Go-Lucky, which was introduced by one of its stars Alexis Zegerman, followed by a video message by the director and lead actress Sally Hawkins.

Stars who refused to to let it rain on the film festival’s parade were Transformers’ Rachael Taylor, Underbelly star Damian Walshe-Howling, Three Blind Mice’s director Matthew Newton and Gracie Otto.

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