Armstrong heads Sydney Film Prize jury

First competition during Sydney Film Fest

SYDNEY -- Australian director Gillian Armstrong has been named jury president for the Sydney Film Prize, the Sydney Film Festival's inaugural competition taking place next month, it was announced in Cannes on Monday.

Armstrong will be joined on the jury by Iranian director-writer-producer Majid Majidi and Hong Kong producer Nansun Shui. The two remaining jury members, comprising one Australian and one international film industry figure, will be announced in the lead-up to the festival, which kicks off June 4.

The 12 films nominated in the competition (HR 5/1) will include three films from Australian filmmakers and nine features from international filmmakers and will compete for an AUS$60,000 ($57,000) prize, which will be awarded June 16. The festival runs June 4-22.

NSW arts minister Linda Burney said the choice of Armstrong as jury president is "fitting," given that her own filmmaking career was launched at the Sydney Film Festival.

"This prize will be an enormous incentive for local filmmakers," she said. "The fact that there is now a $60,000 jury prize that is attached to the Sydney Film Festival will not only encourage local filmmakers, but it will also put Sydney on the map in terms of international filmmakers as well."