Chinese Director Chen Kaige Named Jury President of Sydney Film Festival

His latest film, "Sacrifice," will also hold its Australian premiere June 15.

SYDNEY -- Chinese director Chen Kaige has been named the jury president for the Sydney Film Festival’s annual Sydney Film Prize, organizers said Thursday.

Chen is the first international jury president of the festival’s Official Competition. 

He will also present the Australian premiere of his latest film, Sacrifice, at the festival on June 15.

The Sydney festival, which runs June 8-19, overlaps the Shanghai International Film Festival, which runs June 11-19.

“We are delighted to welcome Chen Kaige as our 2011 jury president. Renowned for his opulent visual style and epic storytelling, Chen is one of China’s leading filmmakers and a director of high international standing,” festival director Clare Stewart said. “His leadership brings more prominence and prestige to our event”.

“The ultimate pleasure of going to film festivals can be found in the opportunities they provide to watch new movies that stimulate our thinking and pondering,” said Chen. “Film festivals constantly transform the rules of filmmaking, expose us to new talent and present the ever changing horizon of world cinema.”

Three of the 12 features selected for the Competition have already been announced. They include, Attenberg (Athina Rachel Tsangari -- Greece), The Future (Miranda July -- USA) and Norwegian Wood (Tran Anh Hung – Japan).

The remaining nine films will be reveals at the festival program launch on May 11.

Twelve features are selected for Official Competition, now in its fourth year, on the basis that they demonstrate “emotional power and resonance; are audacious, cutting-edge, courageous; and go beyond the usual treatment of the subject matter”.

The jury, made up of international and Australian filmmakers and industry professionals, awards an AUS$60,000 prize ($66,000), for new directions in film. The competition features nightly red-carpet screenings with the awards presentation on Sunday, June 19.


Although Chinese and Australian filmmakers have ramped up cooperation under the terms of a film co-production treaty, making the films The Children of Huangshi and The Dragon Pearl industry relations remain fraught because of Chinese government interference.
Two years ago, several Chinese directors, including Jia Zhangke, pulled their movies out of the Melbourne International Film Festival under pressure from media authorities in Beijing when organizers in Australia insisted on screening a documentary about exiled Muslim Chinese Uighur minority activist businsesswoman Rebiya Kadeer, who Beijing has branded a terrorist.