'Firestarter - The Story of Bangarra'. (Photo credit: Daniel Boud)

For the first time ever, Sydney Film Festival will run a summer season during January’s Sydney Festival.

To be held at The State Theatre, the weekend event will open with Nel Minchin and Wayne Blair’s Firestarter – The Story of Bangarra, which depicts the story of the Indigenous dance company and brothers Stephen, Russell, and David Page. Recently nominated for the AACTA Award for Best Documentary, the film is produced by Ivan O’Mahoney for In Films.

Other local fare will include Stephen Johnson’s 1930s-set drama High Ground, starring Simon Baker, Jack Thompson and Jacob Junior Nayinggul, and Christopher Nelius’ doco Girls Can’t Surf, which follows a band of women surfers who revolutionised the male-dominated sport in the 1980s.

From overseas, audiences will be treated to Sundance Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award winner Minari, from director Lee Issac Chung, and Thomas VInterberg’s alcohol-soaked dramedy Another Round.

For Sydney Film Festival director Nashen Moodley, the line-up is prelude of what’s to come when the full event returns to cinemas in June.

“In a year that has been marred by cinema closures, cancelled film festivals, delayed theatrical releases and halts in production, it is vital that we support local and international filmmakers by playing incredible films in the cinema, where they belong,” he tells IF.

This year’s physical Sydney Film Festival was cancelled, though the festival ran a smaller digital iteration which included seven feature films, 13 documentaries, and 13 shorts.

Naturally, COVID-Safe measures will be in place during all of the Sydney Festival screenings, including social distancing.

 The Sydney Film Festival: Summer Season will run January 15 – 17, 2021. Tickets here.

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