De Heer to lead Sydney film fest jury

'Independent spirit' cited in selection

SYDNEY -- Australian director Rolf De Heer has been named president of the jury for the Sydney Film Festival official competition next year, festival organizers said Thursday.

De Heer, whose "Ten Canoes" opened the 2006 festival, takes over from the FIAPF-accredited competition's inaugural president Gillian Armstrong, leading the jury in awarding an AUS$60,000 ($38,400) prize for "new directions in film."

"Rolf de Heer typifies the independent spirit of the festival as someone who has taken risks with his projects but also reached an audience," NSW assistant art minister Virginia Judge said.

The 2009 Sydney Film Festival is set to run June 3-21.