Sydney Film Festival Director Nashen Moodley On Its Triumphant Return To Cinemas

  • Written by 
  • Monday, 25 October 2021 10:51
Published in Movies + TV  
'Here Out West' 'Here Out West'

Some of the best films see protagonists experience hurdles before finally ending with triumph. The Sydney Film Festival itself has suffered since the pandemic overtook the world, facing multiple postponements and pivoting online.


“The festival was meant to happen in June, and then it was postponed to August, and then it became clear that August couldn’t happen,” Festival Director Nashen Moodley says. “When we postponed to November, it wasn’t certain at all that it could take place.”

But now, the festival gets its own triumphant comeback story, as it finally returns to cinemas with a stacked line-up of high-quality cinema for film-goers to enjoy.

“Well, it’s really exciting to be at this point, and a great relief, as well,” Nashen says. “For all of the filmmakers with films in the festival, for the distributors, and for the audience, we really wanted to do everything possible to have an in-cinema festival this year. We felt it was really important for morale, and also to show our defence of the cinema and how important it is that the cinema business is revitalised.”

parallelmothers SFF2021
'Parallel Mothers'

While Nashen says the festival will have ‘a programme that’s slightly smaller than usual’ due to the pandemic and restriction measures to combat it, the programme has a lot to offer. including new films by Spain’s Pedro Almodovar, American Paul Schrader, and New Zealand’s Jane Campion.

Festival-goers can also see some incredible local films, including opening night film ‘Here Out West’, a short film anthology of stories by Western Sydney writers. “It’s a line-up of quite incredible films by some of the greatest filmmakers working today,” Nashen says.

Last year saw most festivals and live events pivot to online out of necessity, including the Sydney Film Festival. During Nashen's decade-long reign as Festival Director, being unable to screen in cinemas was a difficult decision. “I think everyone from the festival organisation to the filmmakers to the audience felt [virtual screenings were] very good, but it does not compare to the experience of watching films together in a cinema,” he says.

Most filmmakers agreed with Nashen’s thoughts on cinema experiences, leading to release delays. Some of those films will now make their Australian debuts at the festival, including the anticipated adaptation of sci-fi epic ‘Dune’, and the new Wes Anderson film that will close the festival, ‘The French Dispatch’.

dunesff2021
'Dune'

“What’s fantastic about this year’s programme is that because cinema releases have been so disrupted over the years, we usually present the best of the previous year’s films,” he says. “But this year, we present the best of the previous few years’ films.”

The festival will also see the return of its virtual section, beginning 12 November, featuring a selection of the festival’s programme available for viewing across Australia. While Nashen prefers the experience of sitting in a cinema, he still sees the positives of virtual screenings.

“I think it makes the festival very accessible, and especially in the case of people who are not yet comfortable in returning to the festival and people who can’t physically come to Sydney from around the country, they can access this programme. I think that is the great benefit of the On Demand offering. But, cinema or not, I hope that we have a lot of people watching these great films we’ve assembled for them.”

The Sydney Film Festival runs 3-14 November, followed by its virtual offering 12-21 November.

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