Interview: Sydney Film Festival Director Nashen Moodley

The 60th Sydney Film Festival is opening next week, and I have had the opportunity to talk to the Festival Director, Mr Nashen Moodley. 

Twitch: Mr Moodley, congratulations on your second year acting as the Festival Director of the Sydney Film Festival, and thank you very much for chatting with Twitch. 

NM: Thanks a lot. It's a great pleasure to chat with you. 

Looking at the Sydney Film Festival's incredible line-up this year, I can see films that are crowd-pleasers and others that seem challenging or even perhaps confronting.  As the Festival Director, how interested are you in the audience response, and what means do you have to help you gauge that?

I'm extremely interested in the audience response! I don't expect or want everyone to love every film - that would indicate a program that's too safe - but I'm fascinated to observe the audience response to particular films. We have an audience vote which gives me a good sense, and Facebook and Twitter of course, but the best way of all is the feeling in the room, and of course when people speak to me about the films.  

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What are the qualities of Ivan Sen's Mystery Road and Morgan Neville's Twenty Feet From Stardom that have seen them being chosen as the Festival's Opening and Closing Film this year?

Mystery Road is an extraordinary film by a true genius - Ivan Sen wrote, directed, shot, edited and scored the film - so it was a very simple decision to open the festival with the film. It is an important film in Ivan Sen's career, and an important film for Australian cinema, so it is just the perfect fit to open our significant 60th edition. Twenty Feet From Stardom is a really uplifting documentary featuring wonderful music by wonderful women, and I think it will leave the audience very happy, and very satisfied. 

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I read somewhere that you have your own rating system to keep track of the films that you are seeing. Can you please tell us more about your rating system, and which of the films from this year's SFF program have rated the highest on the 'Moodley Scale'?

It's a really simple rating system out of 5, and there are very few films that ever get the full 5. The list of films that scored the highest this year is a closely guarded secret. 

The Sydney Film Festival had a record-breaking year in 2012, and this year's Festival looks set to become even bigger with more screenings of more films from more countries in more venues. In your opinion, is this trend of growth likely to continue over the next few years, and are we going to see the Festival period being extended to a full 2 weeks or even 3 weeks in the near future?

We hope to draw more and more people to Sydney Film Festival in the coming years, and wish to make the festival as accessible as possible, with as many entry points as possible. While the festival is expanding geographically and in terms of the number of tickets available, I don't see the festival extending in duration. In terms of attention and focus, I think the 12-day format works best.

The Sydney Film Festival has a long and proud history of supporting local filmmakers by giving a number of awards and prizes specifically for Australian films and their makers. What advice do you have for aspiring Aussie filmmakers who dream of having their films screened at the Festival?

Make good films and send them to us. We take the promotion and celebration of Australian cinema very seriously, and look forward to presenting the films of the next generation of Australian masters. 
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