“Both of these events are very important to Australian filmmakers – the Documentary Australia Foundation Award is a pinnacle for feature-length documentaries each year, and the Dendy Awards have launched the careers of filmmakers for almost 70 years – so we thought it was important to continue with those awards,” she said.
In another first the festival will also open to a national audience, working with New Zealand startup Shift72 – a streaming platform which recently salvaged Copenhagen’s CPH:DOX documentary festival from coronavirus cancellation (“They delivered over 140 films to over 100,000 people within three weeks; it was quite successful,” said Small) – to host its films.
Compared to the usual SFF program of more than 300 films across 12 days, audience-voted prizes and filmmaker Q&As, the virtual instalment is a concession. But a necessary one at such a challenging time for the local industry, said Small.
“It’s not quite the same but it’s important,” she said. “Last week we joined We Are One: A Global Film Festival, which is a great opportunity for audiences. Now we see our revision as something that really supports our local filmmakers, which is extremely important to the Sydney Film Festival.”