Sydney Film Festival Opening Night

(7.15pm 6 June 2012, State Theatre Market Street Sydney)

Thank you, Chris Freeland, Sydney Film Festival chair and good evening, everyone. I would like firstly to acknowledge the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the traditional custodians of our land, and to pay my respects to their Elders. I also acknowledge the people of 200 nationalities who live in our city.

I would also like to acknowledge Minister George Souris, and Director Nashen Moodley and congratulate him on his first festival.

It's my pleasure to welcome you all tonight.

The City has had a long association with the Festival - so long that no-one really knows exactly when it began. But it's an association we're proud to continue.

It is one of the world's oldest film festivals, and it's surely one of the best loved.

Film, more than any other medium perhaps, has the power to connect us - directly and vividly - with other lives and other cultures. It's why Sydney and this Festival are such a good mix.

This 59th Festival introduces a new venue, with the inaugural Sydney Film Festival Hub @ Lower Town Hall.

This is a free venue - and it's looking great after the recent refurbishment.

It's where you can relax and mingle before or after screenings, see local and international acts, or hear talks and have a drink at the Keystone Bar.

Among other treats, it will open with an exhibition of large-scale portraits by Fabrizio Maltese, renowned for his images of actors and film-makers from Woody Allen to John Hurt to Antonio Banderas. He's giving a free talk tomorrow night at 6pm called Confessions of a Festival Photographer.

There's also a terrific line up of performances, a roster of free films, and many panel discussions featuring directors, writers, cinematographers and critics. It's somewhere you can experience the festival from the inside, so we hope to see you there.

Once again, the City of Sydney offers you all a very warm welcome - especially our overseas guests - and I wish you a rewarding and enjoyable festival.

It's a great pleasure to officially launch it.

Thank you.