Competition boosts Sydney fest's bottom line

Boxoffice revenue up, business opportunities flourish

SYDNEY -- The Sydney Film Festival's first official competition helped push boxoffice upward this year, organizers said Wednesday.

Boxoffice revenue exceeded AUS$1.13 million ($1.07 million) up from AUS$1.11 million last year, while admissions of 130,000 during the festivals 19 days, which wrapped June 22, were on par with the 2007 results of 129,000.

"The official competition provided a significant focal point for the festival, with double the international filmmakers in attendance and some real business opportunities created through the aligned industry program" festival director Clare Stewart said.

The festival also sought greater industry engagement this year, with film industry participation up 62% and 520 industry guests taking part in a variety of industry forums and talks, while the turnout at free public talks by filmmakers doubled.

Steve McQueen's "Hunger" won the festival's inaugural Sydney Film Prize, and the audience award went to Canadian film "Fugitive Pieces."