Sydney is Australia’s most populated city, so it makes sense that it has a bustling arts and culture scene. Whether located in the busy CBD, along the picturesque Sydney Harbour, or in the city’s hip inner suburbs, movie-lovers have plenty of options when it comes to film festivals.
With more popping up each and every year, there’s no excuse for not partaking in the cultural thrill of a film festival. Here are just some of the best film festivals in Sydney.
Sydney Film Festival
The Sydney Film Festival (SFF) is the largest film festival in New South Wales and also offers an internationally recognised competition prize. The Sydney Film Prize has gained prominence in the last decade and is judged by a panel of esteemed local and international film industry names. With big-name movies from the Cannes, Sundance and Berlin film festivals, SFF also prides itself on showing some of the finest documentaries of any festival in the country. With special guests always in attendance, 2017’s festival ended in a rare audience Q&A with Korean director Bong Joon-ho and actor Steven Yeun, a unique treat for Korean film lovers.
Persian International Film Festival
The incredible talents of Persian-speaking filmmakers from Iran, Pakistan and Tajikistan are showcased across two weeks in September at the Persian International Film Festival. A cultural leader in shifting perceptions of the region and fostering discussions between diverse communities, the festival offers an immaculate collection of acclaimed and award-winning films from some of the world’s best filmmakers. As well as movies, the festival offers masterclasses and other cultural events for the community that go beyond the big screen.
Pasifika Film Festival
The artists and cultures of the Asia-Pacific are front and centre at the Pasifika Film Festival, a film festival designed to give a voice to stories from the region. With films from or about island nations like Vanuatu, West Papua, New Zealand, Rapa Nui, the Marshall Islands and Australia, the festival offers so much rich culture and history to explore. Venture to the Casula Powerhouse in September to experience it.
Taiwan Film Festival
The Taiwan Film Festival began with the aim of providing Taiwanese locals with the opportunity to experience the cinematic culture of their homeland, as well as educating others on Taiwan’s exciting film landscape. This annual event runs in July and is one of the few festivals of its kind across Australia.
Greek Film Festival
The Greek film industry has surged in the last decade thanks to filmmakers like Yorgos Lanthimos (The Favourite, The Lobster, The Killing of a Sacred Deer) and Athina Rachel Tsangari (Attenberg, Chevalier). At the Greek Film Festival, you’ll get the chance to discover more about the talent emerging out of Greece.
Irish Film Festival
Hosted in Paddington and Penrith in April, the Irish Film Festival showcases the best films from the cold and blustery north. The festival proudly boasts that in less than five years of existence, it is fast becoming the largest celebration of contemporary Irish culture in Australia. This is very well supported by the festival’s often hard-hitting film choices that blend social realist dramas with horror, documentaries and comedy.
Lebanese Film Festival
The Lebanese Film Festival’s mission is to bring rarely seen Lebanese cinema to Australian screens and offer audiences a glimpse into Lebanon’s fascinating culture. This festival caters to the growing Lebanese community and includes screenings in Sydney, Newcastle and the Southern Highlands. The festival has screened over 100 films by Lebanese filmmakers across the globe since the first event in 2012.
Palestinian Film Festival Australia
The Palestinian Film Festival Australia delivers a rare opportunity for Palestinians to have their voices heard through film. In less than a decade, this festival has been offering audiences a look into Palestine’s past, present and future through hard-hitting documentaries and powerful dramas. Held at various Dendy cinemas around Sydney, the Palestinian Film Festival is a must for any serious film fan.
Palace International Film Festivals
The Palace Cinema chain continues to expand its selection of cultural film festivals that are held throughout the year at the multiple Palace Cinemas across the country. Showcasing film cultures from some of the most exciting countries for movie-lovers, Sydney hosts full month-long seasons of Palace festivals including the Spanish Film Festival, American Essentials Film Festival, German Film Festival, Volvo Scandinavian Film Festival, Lavazza Italian Film Festival, Cine Latino Film Festival and the British Film Festival.