Sydney Film Festival announce opening night feature film

The 69th Sydney Film Festival has announced it’s opening night film, presenting the world premiere of We Are Still Here as its Gala event at the State Theatre on the 8th of June.

The film, which will be followed by a post-screening celebration in the Sydney Town Hall, is a multi-genre First Nations collaboration that interweaves eight stories by 10 directors from Australia, Aotearoa New Zealand and the South Pacific.

We Are Still Here is told through the eyes of eight heroic protagonists, traversing over 1000 years, showing the strength of love and hope required to overcome shared traumas that Indigenous people from Australia, Aotearoa New Zealand and the South Pacific have continued to face.  The film was conceived as a right of reply for Indigenous filmmakers to tell anthology stories about colonisation of native peoples throughout the Pacific and to respond to the 250th anniversary of James Cook’s maiden voyage to the Pacific.

Filmmakers behind the eight stories include Australian directors Beck Cole, Danielle MacLean, Tracey
Rigney, and Dena Curtis; and New Zealand directors: Tim Worrall, Richard Curtis, Renae Maihi, Miki Magasiva, Chantelle Burgoyn, and Mario Gaoa.  The film features talented First Nations actors such as Clarence Ryan, Tioreore Ngatai-Melbourne, Leonie Whyman and Calvin Tuteao; and producers Mitchell Stanley, Toni Stowers, and Mia Henry-TeirneyWe Are Still Here is a joint initiative between Screen Australia’s First Nations Department and the New Zealand Film Commission.

“Bringing together a range of genres including animation, sci-fi, romantic comedy, and period drama, We Are Still Here highlights the vibrant storytelling talents of First Nations filmmakers in our region,” said
Sydney Film Festival Director Nashen Moodley. “We’re delighted to open our 2022 Festival, with the World Premiere of this multifaceted and impactful film and usher back in the return of our Opening Night Gala after three years, celebrating the film, the Festival and our local industry.”

“We are truly honoured to hold the World Premiere of We Are Still Here at one of it’s natural homes – the Sydney Film Festival. This film is a testament to the strength and resilience of First Nations people all over the World, and we dedicate this success to our ancestors of the past, and our descendants of the future”, said Producer Mia Henry-Teirney.

The full Sydney Film Festival program is announced on Wednesday, 11th May, 2022. The first titles from Sydney Film Festival’s 2022 program alongside the Screenability, Family Program, and Frederick
Wiseman Retrospective strands can be found online at sff.org.au. We Are Still Here will also screen as part of the First Nations Program Strand, presented in partnership with Deutsche Bank and Screen Australia’s First Nations Department.

Peter Gray

Film critic with a penchant for Dwayne Johnson, Jason Momoa, Michelle Pfeiffer and horror movies, harbouring the desire to be a face of entertainment news.