Last night I opened the 60th Sydney Film Festival at the State Theatre.
A huge audience was in attendance to watch Ivan Sen's new feature film, Mystery Road - a great choice for opening night. Ivan Sen is among a growing group of Aboriginal filmmakers, actors and writers who are making a significant contribution to Australia's film culture.
Over the years the Sydney Film Festival has reflected and celebrated cultural diversity, bringing us stories from around the world, telling our own Australian stories, and showcasing our filmmaking talent.
The City of Sydney is a major sponsor of the festival, and apart from our support through our Major Festivals Program, we will again host the Film Festival Hub in Sydney Town Hall.
The hub is open until midnight every day during the festival offering free talks, screenings, workshops and other events. It will feature a festival bar, bookstore and ticketing lounge selling discount $10 tickets for selected festival screenings will be until 8.30pm daily.
I will be hosting the Festival community screening of William Yang: My Generation at the Dendy Opera Quays on Saturday 15 June.
The documentary explores photographer William Yang's friendships with artists, writers and fashion designers including Brett Whiteley, Patrick White and Jenny Kee. This is a free event for seniors or Health Care Card holders. Bookings are essential on 02 9265 9973 and some transport is available.
The City is also co-presenting two screenings of Danish filmmaker Andreas Dalsgaard's The Human Scale, which documents the international influence of urban-planning maestro Jan Gehl around the globe.
The screenings this afternoon and Saturday 8 June at Event Cinemas will be followed by an audience discussion with the filmmaker, Gehl Architects' David Sims and producer Signe Byrge Sorensen.
The City is also sponsoring a free screening at the Festival Hub of Mr Dalsgaard's Cities on Speed: Bogota Change, a 2009 documentary that charts the transformation of Colombia's largest city. The film shows how over a decade two mayors, Antanas Mockus and Enrique Penalosa, used unorthodox methods to turn one of the world's most violent and corrupt cities into a peaceful and model city with more caring citizens.
The screening, from midday on Saturday 8 June, will be followed by a Q&A with Mr Dalsgaard and award-winning Sydney architect Stephen Collier, who will discuss how the documentary explores civic issues, sustainability and public transport.
The City provided $15,000 in funding for the publication of a commemorative online publication, Sydney Film Festival 1954 to Now, which traces the history of Sydney Film Festival - the sixth-oldest in the world.
The free e-book, launched in March, gives an insight into Sydneysiders' shifting film tastes and the changing face of the city since 1954 via 37 historical essays, and a searchable list of all 8,580 films that have screened in that time.