icon icon

AFTRS Celebrates 50 with an Alumni Film Collection at Sydney Film Festival

Still from ‘Mr Ikegami's Flight’ | Dir. Robert Connolly

AFTRS is marking its 50th anniversary at the upcoming Sydney Film Festival with an incredible program of newly restored short films from some of the School’s most celebrated alumni.

In 1973, when AFTRS was founded, inaugural Chair, Barry Jones, declared that the school must be “a revolutionary force” in Australian culture. AFTRS is celebrating this revolutionary spirit and legacy with a program of restored short films by AFTRS alumni who went on to make some of Australia’s most ground-breaking and beloved screen stories. The selection showcases the remarkable first forays into filmmaking from some of the founding class of ’73 – Gillian Armstrong, Phillip Noyce and Chris Noonan – alongside distinguished directing alumni from the past 50 years: Ivan Sen, Jane Campion, Cate Shortland, Robert Connolly, Sue Brooks and Catriona McKenzie.

Robert Connolly, Gillian Armstrong and Sue Brooks will attend and introduce their works as part of the AFTRS 50th Alumni Short Films Program, to be held at 6.00 pm on Tuesday 13 June, at Event Cinemas, George Street.

More details about the program and tickets are available here.

Sydney Film Festival has also programmed the world premieres of two recent AFTRS student films, The Big Dog and To Be Silent.

The Big Dog is a feature film written and directed by Dane McCusker, with producer Claudia Shepherd, cinematographer Oliver Hay, production designer Caley Miles, editor Jarrod Young, music Sam Weiss and sound supervisor Jonathan Mendoliccio. All participated in the AFTRS Masters program in 2021 and the film was developed as their graduation project.

Short film, To Be Silent, was written and directed by Bachelor of Arts Screen: Production student Tace Stevens and made in collaboration with fellow BA students, producer Skye Leon, editor Jasmine Stokes, cinematographer Maddie Green, production designer Reilly O’Loughlin, composer Lena Matienko, sound designer Jessica Flanagan, sound supervisor Raquel Cuevas and animator Elyse Landsberry.

AFTRS alumni also feature across the entire Sydney Film Festival program including: Warwick Thornton, director of the Opening Night film, The New Boy; Amin Palangi, director of the feature Tennesine; Adrian Russell Wills and Gillian Moody who co-directed the feature documentary Kindred; Steve Pasvolsky – Oscar-nominated for his AFTRS student short film Inja – who produced the feature film Three Chords and the Truth (director Claire Pasvolsky); and Jack Clark and Jim Weir who are co-writers and co-directors of the feature film Birdeater. Katele (director John Harvey, producer Gillian Moody) is screening in the Dendy Short Film Awards program.

The Sydney Film Festival is also presenting a retrospective of Jane Campion’s work which will include three of her restored student shorts – Peel, Passionless Moments and A Girl’s Own Story. Jane studied directing at AFTRS in 1983 and her award-winning career began with Peel, which won the Short Film Palme d’Or at the 1986 Cannes Film Festival, making Campion the first-ever woman to win the award. She went on to win the Palme d’Or for The Piano in 1993, and the Best Direction Academy Award for The Power of the Dog in 2022.

AFTRS CEO, Dr Nell Greenwood, said: “As the Sydney Film Festival celebrates its 70th year with another extraordinary program of cinema from Australia and around the world, AFTRS is very proud to join the festivities with a celebration of our own special birthday – 50 years. The festival will showcase recent student work as well as early works from our brilliant alumni. It’s a fantastic opportunity to connect cinema audiences with the work of new AFTRS voices and alumni from across the years.”

Alongside the Sydney Film Festival, AFTRS is also presenting a session at Vivid Sydney – Feeling It: Music and Sound on Screen. Using breathtaking footage of nature taken from AFTRS’ short films, AFTRS Discipline Lead, Music, Cameron Patrick and AFTRS Discipline Lead, Sound Design, Stephen Murphy will unpack how simply changing the music and the soundscape can dramatically shift the meaning and resonance of a scene. This interactive session, which includes a live scoring will enable audiences to see – and hear – the creativity that exists behind the scenes of films.”

Read more and get tickets here.