Hype, Harry And A Facelift For Film Festival
Sydney Morning Herald
Wednesday September 12, 2007
THE Sydney Film Festival is stepping up the glamour with a new international competition that will involve a dozen red carpet screenings next year.An extra $1.8 million from the State Government will allow overseas and Australian directors to compete for a prize for "new directions in film". In a big upgrade for one of the oldest film festivals in the world - it will be 55 next year - there will also be talks by visiting filmmakers and industry executives and events aimed at encouraging production in the state.The Arts Minister, Frank Sartor, said yesterday the competition was the coming of age of the Sydney Film Festival as a truly global event. Twelve films, selected for their emotional power, audacity and courage, will compete for a $60,000 prize.The Oscar-winning director and festival patron George Miller said the event, like successful festivals around the world, had the advantage of a charismatic location. "What we haven't had was real support at every level," he said. "We have tended to rest on our laurels and be a little too lazy, but this initiative ... is a really good step towards making us stand out."The growth of festivals in Melbourne and Adelaide, which commissions films and has its own competition, has seen Sydney's status slide over the past decade. Speaking from the Toronto Film Festival, the festival's executive director, Clare Stewart, was delighted. "It's a great show of support from the Government ... It's going to have some really substantial positive impacts on our programming and the profile of the event, both locally and internationally," she said. Meanwhile, the film industry has been buzzing with speculation that two comic-book movies could be shot at Fox Studios soon.A Superman website said a studio insider had confirmed that Hugh Jackman's planned Wolverine, which is an X-Men spin-off, and a Justice League movie directed by George Miller were destined for Sydney. A spokeswoman for Fox Studios declined to comment. It is believed Wolverine is still scouting for a location.