(9am, Barnet Long Room, Customs House)
Thank you, Leigh [Small, MC]. Good morning, everyone. Welcome to Customs House and the launch of the 2015 Sydney Film Festival.
In 2010, Sydney joined Bradford as just the second city nominated as a UNESCO City of Film. The nomination noted that the strength of Sydney's film industry "lies in its openness towards cinema of all cultures" - and there is no better exemplar of that than the Sydney Film Festival itself.
For more than 60 years, from its amateur beginnings at the University of Sydney, the Festival has brought the world to our city, opening us to other cultures, different ways of life, different ideas while also casting a revealing eye at our own.
Sydney and NSW are Australia's film and television capital, home to the Australian Film & Television School, to state-of-the-art studio facilities and to a host of talented film makers and actors. Nearly 60 per cent of all Australians employed in the screen production industry are based in NSW and more than half of all Australian production and post-production happens in Sydney.
So film is a vital element of our thriving creative culture in Sydney and in 2013, to mark the 60th anniversary of Sydney Film Festival, the City was delighted to support the launch of the Festival's on-line archive - a fascinating smorgasbord of that 60-year history.
This year's Festival of more than 200 films more than lives up to its predecessors. Among the highlights: the Australian-Irish thriller, Strangerland, with Nicole Kidman, Joseph Fiennes and Hugo Weaving; the retrospective of 10 Ingmar Bergman films, curated by David Stratton; and an expanded program for families that includes the Oscar-nominated animated feature, Song of the Sea, and a charming offering from India, The Crow's Egg.
The City and the Festival together present The Bluffers' Guide to Cinema, as part of our Library Talks program, giving you a preview of what you can see at the 2015 Festival.
On May 14, Jenny Neighbour - who has been programming documentaries for the Festival for more than 25 years - will give an illustrated talk revealing some of the doco highlights for this year, and giving insights to what she selected and why.
Then on May 28, Richard Kuipers, programmer for Freak Me Out, gives a sneak preview of some of the freakiest films he's chosen for this year's Festival.
Other films will be shown in venues across the city, from the State Theatre to Dendy Opera Quays, Events Cinemas, the Art Gallery of NSW, Dendy Newtown and the Cremorne Orpheum. The TV big screen will also show spectacular light installations in the Martin Place Amphitheatre during VIVID Sydney.
In all its richness and diversity, Sydney Film Festival reflects our city, and our world and the City is proud to support it.