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2021 Sydney Film Festival

After multiple delays due to COVID-19 disruptions, the Sydney Film Festival was Thursday finally able to announce a program for this year’s in-person event. It will now take place Nov. 3- 14.

Originally slated for June, the festival was initially shifted to August. But as Sydney returned to strict lockdown from June due to a delta variant outbreak, dates were stalled again.

“We really wanted to have an in-cinema festival this year,” said festival director Nashen Moodley after going wholly online in 2020. “With Sydney finally coming out of lockdown next Monday it couldn’t be better timing. The enthusiasm for ticket sales has been phenomenal.” The 2021 festival also has a scaled down on demand event, available in Australia only.

Some restrictions will still remain in place, including vaccination proof, indoor masking and 75% capacity limits in cinemas. But with 233 films from 69 countries, SFF is offering an enticing line up.

The two postponements meant that Moodley was able to secure films recently screened at Venice and Toronto, including “Dune,” Jane Campion’s “The Power of the Dog,” as well as Cannes-premiered “Parallel Mothers” and closing night film, “The French Dispatch.”

“We thought we would lose 50 to 70 films from the 150 we had planned to screen in August”, “says Moodley. “But in the end, we only lost about twenty and added close to thirty. It’s unusual to have so many distinctive and great filmmakers in the one festival.”

The Sustainable Future Award, a A$10,000 cash prize presented to a film of any length that brings awareness of the global climate emergency. Eight films have been shortlisted and the winner will be announced on Monday (Oct 11).

Opening night film will be the world premier of the Australian feature, “Here Out West” featuring eight emerging writers from different cultural backgrounds paired with five female directors, including Leah Purcell (whose “The Drovers Wife The Legend of Molly Johnson” will also play in Sydney) and Ana Kokkinos (“Blessed”).

“It’s an incredible portrait of a multi-cultural Australia we don’t often see on the big screen, “said Moodley. “This year is one of our most diverse and exciting line ups in SFF history.”

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