Sydney Film Festival Is Launching the World's Largest Cash Award for First Nations Filmmaking

Debuting at 2024's festival in June, the First Nations Award will hand out $35,000 for Indigenous filmmaking — and it's open to First Nations talents across the globe.
Sarah Ward
January 29, 2024

Over the past decade, Sydney Film Festival's opening-night movies have included Goldstone, The New Boy and We Don't Need a Map, all Australian titles from Indigenous directors. It's too early to say what 2024's fest will launch with to mark the cinema celebration's 71st year; however, First Nations filmmaking will firmly be in the spotlight via a brand-new cash prize that joins the event's slate of awards.

SFF will now be home to the world's largest cash accolade for Indigenous cinema: the $35,000 First Nations Award. Set to debut at the 2024 festival, which runs from Wednesday, June 5–Sunday, June 16, the prize will be handed out in Sydney but is open to films from around the world — shorts as well — as long as it is featured in Sydney Film Festival's annual First Nations program strand.

"The First Nations Award is more than a celebration of unique storytelling; it's a crucial investment in the future of Indigenous cinema. By offering this level of support, we hope to encourage more First Nations filmmakers to share their stories, enriching the film industry with diverse perspectives and voices," said SFF's long-running Festival Director Nashen Moodley.

"This award aligns seamlessly with Sydney Film Festival's long-standing commitment to fostering cultural diversity and amplifying Indigenous narratives."

"It is entirely fitting that the Sydney Film Festival, which for so long has been a champion of First Nations stories and storytellers from around the world, now offers the largest single cash prize for First Nations film globally," added SFF Chair Darren Dale.

"This prize will inspire, motivate and reward established and emerging First Nations filmmakers with the promise that their art is important, is valued and will be seen."

The First Nations Award is supported by Australian production company Truant Pictures, and joins SFF's annual gongs alongside the annual $60,000 Sydney Film Prize, the $40,000 Sustainable Future Award, the $20,000 Documentary Australia Award and the range of Dendy Awards for Australian Short Films.

If you're a First Nations filmmaker with a movie that you'd love to be considered to screen at this year's SFF, and to go in the running for the new award, you have until Friday, March 1 to submit.

Sydney Film Festival 2024 takes place from Wednesday, June 5–Sunday, June 16 at various cinemas and venues around Sydney. For more information, head to the festival's website.

Images: Tim Levy / Luke Latty.

Published on January 29, 2024 by Sarah Ward
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