Official Competition: A History

The Official Competition celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2017, marking a decade of awarding the Sydney Film Prize to each year’s most 'audacious, cutting-edge and courageous' film. The competition is endorsed by FIAPF, the regulating body for international film festivals, and is judged by a jury of five international and Australian filmmakers and industry professionals. The $60,000 cash prize was presented at SFF’s Closing Night ceremony on Sunday 18 June.

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Sydney Film Festival's Official Competition, we look back at the past winners, jury members and competition entrants.

2017 Official Competition

Official Competition Jury

Australian Presenter/Film Critic/Journalist and Jury President Margaret Pomeranz
Australian Producer (Cleverman) Rosemary Blight
Canadian Director (Window Horses) Ann Marie Fleming 
South Korean Film Executive and Lecturer Kini S. Kim 
Nepalese Director (White Sun) Deepak Rauniyar 

Official Competition Winner - On Body and Soul, (2017)

Hungarian, directed by Ildikó Enyedi. On Body and Soul won the Berlinale Golden Bear (2017). 

Official Competition Entrants

The Beguiled, USA, directed by Sofia Coppola
Félicité, France, Belgium, Senegal, Germany and Lebanon, directed by Alain Gomis 
Happy End, France, Austria and Germany, directed by Michael Haneke
I Am Not Your Negro, France, USA, Belgium and Switzerland, directed by Raoul Peck
My Happy Family, Germany, Georgia and France, directed by Nana & Simon 
The Other Side of Hope, Finland and Germany, directed by Aki Kaurismäki
Pop Aye, Singapore and Thailand, directed by Kirsten Tran 
Una, UK, directed by Benedict Andrews
The Untamed, Mexico, Denmark, France, Germany, Norway and Switzerland, directed by Amat Escalante
We Don't Need a Map, Australia, directed by Warwick Thornton 
Wolf and Sheep, Denmark, France, Sweden and Afghanistan, directed by Shahrbanoo Sadat

2016 Official Competition

Official Competition Jury

British programmer and producer Simon Field 
Australian writer, director and producer Robert Connolly
Dublin International Film Festival’s Director Gráinne Humphreys

Acclaimed Australian producer Bridget Ikin
Cutting edge Japanese documentarian Kazuhiro Soda

Official Competition Winner - Aquarius, (2016)

France-Brazil, Qatar by director Kleber Mendonça Filho (Neighbouring Sounds, Sydney Film Festival 2012 Official Competition). Aquarius was also selected to compete for the Palme d'Or at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival.

Official Competition Entrants

Apprentice, Singapore-France-Germany-Hong Kong, Qatar directed by Boo Junfeng.
Certain Women, USA directed by Kelly Reichardt.
The Childhood of a Leader, UK-Hungary-France, by actor/director Brady Corbet.
The Endless River, South Africa-France, directed by Oliver Hermanus.
Goldstone, Australia, by director/screenwriter Ivan Sen.
It’s Only The End Of The World, France-Canada, directed by acclaimed director Xavier Dolan.
Letters from War, Portugal, directed by Ivo M. Ferreira.
Notes on Blindness, UK, from directors Peter Middleton and James Spinney.
Psycho Raman, India by director/screenwriter/producer/actor Anurag Kashyap.
Viva, Ireland, directed by Paddy Breathnach.

Official Competition 2015

Official Competition Jury

Australian film producer Liz Watts
Japanese program consultant Hiromi Aihara
Australian screenwriter Andrew Bovell
Thai filmmaker Penek Ratanaruang
Austrian Film Commission’s Martin Schweighofer

Official Competition Winner - Arabian Nights, (2015)

Portugal-France-Germany-Switzerland. Directed by Miguel Gomes, the film also premiered at Director’s Fortnight in Cannes. His previous film Tabu also featured in the Sydney Film Festival 2012 Official Competition.


Official Competition Entrants


Black Souls, Italy, by director Francesco Munzi.
The Daughter, Australia, directed by Simon Stone.
Me And Earl And The Dying Girl, USA by debut director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon.
A Pigeon Sat On A Branch Reflecting On Existence, Sweden-Norway-France-Germany, by director Roy Andersson.
Sherpa, Australia-Nepal, by director Jennifer Peedom.
Strangerland, Australia-Ireland by director Kim Farrant.
Tales, Iran by leading filmmaker Rakshan Bani-Etemad.
Tangerine, USA, by writer/producer and director Sean Baker.
Tehran Taxi, Iran, by Jafar Panahi.
Victoria, Germany, by director Sebastian Schipper.
Vincent, France, by debut director Thomas Salvador.

Official Competition 2014

Official Competition Jury

Acclaimed Australian filmmaker Rachel Perkins
Canadian Film Critic Shelly Kraicer
Korean producer OH Jung-wan 
South African director Khalo Matabane
Australian actor Rachael Blake

Official Competition Winner - Two Days, One Night, (2014)

Belgium-France-Italy, by the famous Dardenne brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne featured in competition at Cannes. Their previous films The Child and Rosetta have both won the prestigious Palme d’Or.

Official Competition Entrants

20,000 days on Earth, UK by artists/directors Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard. 
Black Coal, Thin Ice, China-Hong Kong by leading writer/director Diao Yinan.
Boyhood, USA, by director Richard Linklater.
Fell, Australia, directed by Kasimir Burgees.
Fish & Cat, Iran, by director/screenwriter Shahram Mokri.
The Kidnapping of Michel Houellebecq, France directed by filmmaker and novelist Guillaume Nicloux.
Kumiko,The Treasure Hunter USA directed by filmmaker David Zellner.
Locke, UK, directed by writer/director Steven Knight.
The Rover, Australia, directed by David Michôdn.
Ruin, Australia, by directors Michael Cody and previous Sydney Film Festival Jury Member Amiel Courtin-Wilson.
Snowpiercer, South Korea by director/screenwriter Bong Joon-Ho.

Official Competition 2013

Official Competition Jury

Acclaimed Australian actor Hugo Weaving
Indian filmmaker Anand Gandhi
Sweden-South African Filmmaker Pia Marais
Italian Film Critic/Curator Paolo Bertolin
Australian producer Kath Shelper

Official Competition Winner - Only God Forgives, (2013)

France-Denmark, by director and previous Sydney Film Festival winner Nicolas Winding Refn (Bronson, 2009). Among his many works he also directed the box office hit Drive.

Official Competition Entrants

The Act of Killing, Denmark-Norway, by director Joshua Oppenheimer.
Borgman, Netherlands, by writer, designer, actor and director Alex Van Warmerdam.
The Broken Circle of Breakdown, Belgium-Netherlands, by director Felix Van Groeningen.
Child’s Pose, Romania, attended by director Cãlin Peter Netzer.
For Those In Peril, UK, directed by Paul Wright, selected for Critic’s Week in Cannes.
Grigris, France, directed by previous year’s Sydney Film Festival Jury Member Mahamat-Saleh Haroun.
Oh Boy, Germany, directed by Jan Ole Gerster.
The Rocket, Australia by director Kim Mordaunt, also won the Best Feature at Berlin and Tribeca.
Stories We Tell, Canada attended by writer/actress/director Sarah Polley.
Wadjda, Saudi Arabia-Germany, directed by Haifaa Al Mansour.

Official Competition 2012

Official Competition Jury

Australian filmmaker and actor Rachel Ward
Award-winning Australian filmmaker Amiel Courtin-Wilson
African Filmmaker Mahamat Saleh Haroun
Dutch Variety critic Boyd van Hoeij
Acclaimed Malaysian producer Lorna Tee

Official Competition Winner - Alps, (2012)

Greece, by director Yorgos Lanthimos (also nominated for the Oscar for Best Foreign Film, Dogtooth).

Official Competition Entrants

Beasts of the Southern Wild, USA, by director Benh Zeitlin. 
Caesar Must Die, Italy, by directors Paolo Taviani and Vittorio Taviani.
Dead Europe, Australia, director Tony Krawitz.
Gangs of Wasseypur Parts 1 and 2, India, by Anurag Kashyap.
The King of Pigs, South Korea, directed by Yuen Sang-ho.
Lore, Australia, directed by Cate Shortland.
Monsieur Lazhar, Canada, by director Philippe Falardeau.
Neighbouring Sounds, Brazil, by director by filmmaker and film journalist, Kleber Mendonça Filho. 
On The Road, USA, directed by Walter Salles.
Tabu, Portugal-Germany-Brazil-France, by director Miguel Gomes.
Today, France-Senegal, directed by Alain Gomis.

Official Competition 2011

Official Competition Jury

Chinese Filmmaker, Chen Kaige
New Zealand actor Kerry Fox
British producer Mark Herbert 
Australian director Sarah Watt
Australian Film critic Julie Rigg

Official Competition Winner - A Separation, (2011)

Iran, by Cannes favourite Asghar Farhadi. His film also won the Best film and both acting prizes for the ensemble cast in Berlin Film Festival.

Official Competition Entrants

Amador, Spain, directed by Fernando León De Aranoa.
Attenberg, Greece, directed by Athina Rachel Tsangari.
Cairo 678, Egypt, directed by Egypt-based screenwriter and director, Mohamed Diab.
The Future, USA-Germany, by director Miranda July.
The Forgiveness of Blood, USA-Albania-Denmark-Italy, directed by Academy Award nominee Joshua Marston.
Norwegian Wood, Japan, by director Tran Anh Hung.
Sleeping Beauty, Australia, by Award Winning novelist and director, Julia Leigh. 
Take Shelter, USA, by writer and director Jeff Nichols.
Toomelah, Australia, by writer and director, Ivan Sen.
Target, Russia-Germany, by director/producer Alexander Zeldovich.
The Tree of Life, USA, by director Terrence Malick.

Official Competition 2010

Official Competition Jury

Australian producer Jan Chapman
English director Lucy Walker
Australian director Shirley Barrett
Taiwanese Director Yonfan
Sundance Film Festival Director John Cooper

Official Competition Winner - Heartbeats, (2010)

Canada, by Xavier Dolan who not only directed but also produced, wrote and starred in this dreamy yet dark venture. This film also played in the Un Certain Regard, Cannes 2010.

Official Competition Entrants

Four Lions, UK, by debut director, and established writer, satirist, producer and performer Christopher Morris.
How I Ended This Summer, Russia, by director, Alexej Popogrebski.
If I want to Whistle, I Whistle, Romania-Sweden, by debut director Floran Serban.
The Killer Inside Me, USA, by director Michael Winterbottom.
Life During Wartime, USA, by award winning director Todd Solondz.
Lola, France-Philippines, by director Brillante Mendoza.
Moloch Tropical, France – Haiti, directed by Haitian Filmmaker and ex-Minister of Culture, Raoul Peck.
The Tree, Australia-France, directed by Julie Bertucelli.
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, UK-Thailand-France-Germany-Spain, by independent Thai filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul.
Wasted on Young, Australia, directed by Ben C. Lucas.
Women Without Men, Germany-Austria-France, by Iranian director Shirley Neshat.
Wasted on Young, Australia, directed by Ben C. Lucas. 

Official Competition 2009

Official Competition Jury

Australian Director Rolf De Heer
German director Oliver Hirschbiegel
Canadian director/producer Ted Kotcheff
Australian actress Miranda Otto
Danish director Lone Scherfig

Official Competition Winner - Bronson, (2009)

UK, by talented director Nicholas Winding Refn who was also the subject of the documentary Gambler that screened at Sydney Film Festival in 2006.

Official Competition Entrants

Looking for Eric, UK-France-Belgium-Italy, directed by ever prolific and diverse director Ken Loach. 
The Maid, Chile, directed by Sebastián Silva and the winner of the Grand Jury Prize in Sundance that year.
Disgrace, Australia, by actor, director and producer Steve Jacobs, a regular Nominee at the AFI (Australian Film, Television and Radio school) Awards.
Altiplano, Belgium-Germany-Netherlands, by directors Peter Brosnens and Jessica Hope Woodworth.
Louise – Michel, France, directed by Benoit Delépine and Gustave Kervern.
Paper Soldier, , Russia, by Alexey German Jr. who was also won the Silver Lion for best director in Venice Film Festival. 
Missing Water, Australia, directed by and in attendance was Khoa Do, who has been nominated for three AFI Awards for his past films (The Finished People, Footy Legends).
Coraline, USA, directed by Henry Selick.
Visages, France-Taiwan, directed by Tsai Ming-Liang was also selected for the Official Competition in Cannes 2009.
The Girlfriend Experience, USA, directed by multiple Academy award winning nominee Steven Soderbergh (Traffic, Erin Brockovich).
Beautiful Kate, Australia, by Rachel Ward is her first feature film. 

Official Competition 2008

Official Competition Jury

Australian Director Gillian Armstrong
Australian actress Essie Davis
LA film writer and critic Scott Foundas
Iranian director/writer/producer Majid Majidi
Hong Kong producer Nansun Shi

Official Competition Winner - Hunger, (2008)

UK, by celebrated Academy award winner, director Steve McQueen. Steve McQueen went on to win the Academy Award, a BAFTA Award for Best Film and a Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Drama for his 2013 film, 12 Years a Slave.

Official Competition Entrants

Happy-Go-Lucky, UK, by multi-award winning director Mike Leigh.
Silent Night, Mexico-France-Netherlands-Germany, directed by Mexican filmmaker Carlos Reygadas, a Cannes prize-winner.
Quiet Chaos, Italy, by noted Actor and Director Antonello Grimaldi.
Rain of the Children, New Zealand, directed by Vincent Ward (first New Zealander whose films were selected at Cannes).
Three Blind Mice, Australia, by Melbourne actor and director Matthew Newton.
My Winnipeg, Canada, based on his own wildly entertaining autobiography and directed by Guy Maddin.
Tokyo Sonata, Japan-The Netherlands-Hong Kong, directed by Kiyoshi Kurosaw.
Lake Tahoe, Mexico, by director Fernando Eimbcke.
Stop-Loss, USA, by Writer-Director Kimberly Peirce.
In Bruges, UK-Belgium by prize-winning playwright and twice winner of the Olivier Award, director Martin McDonagh.
The Square, Australia, directed by Nash Edgerton.