Departing Sydney Film Festival CEO Leigh Small.

Sydney Film Festival CEO Leigh Small has stepped down after 12 years in the top job.

Under Small’s leadership, the festival has doubled in scale and withstood two years of disruption from the pandemic, which led to a virtual iteration in 2020 and a twice-delayed schedule in 2021.

Having guided the event through one of its toughest periods, she said the time was right to hand the reins over to someone new.

“I plan to take a well-earned break to decide on the next phase of my career and life,” she said.

“I am especially proud of all the wonderful staff with whom I’ve worked over the years.  Their passion, dedication, and professionalism has been outstanding. Sydney Film Festival is all the stronger for their contribution.”

“I also want to recognise and express my deep gratitude to SFF’s past and present volunteers and board members, government and corporate partners, donors, filmmakers, and audiences over this period. They have all contributed enormously to making the organisation what it is today.”

The board has appointed festival director Nashen Moodley as acting CEO, and a recruitment process will shortly commence for a permanent replacement.

Moodley said he would always be grateful to Small for bringing him to Australia to join the “superb” Sydney Film Festival team.

“The festival has gone from strength to strength, and Leigh’s passion and commitment has been a key driver of its evolution,” he said.

“The festival is now in a very stable position. Leigh leaves us with our best wishes for her future adventures.”

The board thanked Leigh for her contribution to the organisation over the last twelve years and wished her well in future endeavours.

This year’s Sydney Film Festival will be held from June 8-19, with the full program to be released this week. Find out more information here.

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