Sydney Film Festival includes David Wenham and Sarah Watt for jury

Press Release from AAP Media Net

The Australian film industry will be out in force on Sydney Film Festival’s juries. SFF has confirmed that Melbourne writer, director, author and animator Sarah Watt (Look Both Ways, My Year Without Sex) plus ABC Radio National’s senior movie critic Julie Rigg, will take their places on the Official Competition jury in 2011, alongside Jury President Chen Kaige, New Zealand actor Kerry Fox and British producer Mark Herbert.

Sarah Watt’s first feature Look Both Ways premiered at the Adelaide Film Festival and screened at more than 30 film festivals worldwide, winning both the Australian Film Institute Award and the IF Award for Best Director and the prestigious Discovery Award at Toronto International Film Festival. Her most recent film, My Year Without Sex also screened at festivals worldwide.

“It is fantastic to be back at the Sydney Film Festival. This festival is especially meaningful to me, having won my first major film prize here. This year I am excited to see world class films which stretch the boundaries of what cinema can be” – said Sarah Watt, who won the 2002 Dendy Award (Fiction under 15 minutes) for her short film Living with Happiness.

Julie Rigg is ABC Radio National’s senior movie critic. She has been reviewing film, reporting on film and interviewing filmmakers since 1988. She presents MOVIETIME on ABC Radio National (8.30am Fridays; 11.30am Sundays) and, with Paul Barclay, co-hosts Australia Talks Movies, a monthly film talkback, also on Radio National.

“I’ve watched with delight as the Sydney Film Festival has blossomed these last few years. The brief for the Sydney Film Prize: to reward “courageous and audacious film making” is a film lover’s dream. I’m delighted to help find this year’s winner”, said Julie Rigg in Sydney today.

FOXTEL Australian Documentary Prize Jury:

The 2011 FOXTEL Jury will comprise FOXTEL’s Jim Buchan alongside Joost den Hartog (Director of the Australian International Documentary Conference) and US film-maker Jennifer Fox, whose current feature documentary, My Reincarnation, will be screened at this year’s festival. Ten finalists have been shortlisted for this prestigious award, now in its third year. The winner will be awarded a cash prize of $10,000 sponsored by FOXTEL.

“I’m delighted to be involved again in what is an important initiative in encouraging Australia’s vastly talented documentary-producing community” said Jim Buchan, FOXTEL General Manager of Factual Acquisitions.

Dendy Awards for Australian Short Films Jury:

Leading Australian actor David Wenham, screenwriter John Collee and producer Nicole O’Donohue will comprise the 2011 Dendy Jury.

David Wenham is one of Australia’s leading actors of both screen and stage. Currently, he can be seen on the big screen in Jim Loach’s Oranges and Sunshine and on stage (from 4 June) in Belvoir’s production of The Seagull. John Collee is one of Australia’s leading screenwriters. His adaptation of his own novel Paper Mask was his first produced screenplay, and he has subsequently written screenplays for both Happy Feet and Creation which had it’s Australian premiere at SFF last year. Nicole O’Donohue is a Sydney based independent producer whose first feature film Griff the Invisible released earlier this year after its World premiere at Toronto International Film Festival. Her short films have screened at over 60 festivals worldwide, and include the acclaimed short film Spider, which won an honourable mention at the Sundance Film Festival in 2008.

The Dendy Awards recognise that short films provide a measurable development pathway to feature film production and just as importantly, recognise that creatively the short is also a vibrant form unto itself.

“With the amount of short films competing for selection increasing exponentially each year, I am sure films chosen for the Dendy Competition this year are a quality eclectic mix,” said Wenham. “It's with great anticipation I look forward to watching them and discovering the gems within this section. As Sydney is my hometown, an added bonus will be the ability for me to take a long leisurely Autumnal walk from my home to any of the festival theatres.”