Sydney Film Festival 2023

Students master new skills in bringing the 70th Sydney Film Festival to life

11 September 2023
An enriching learning experience for Arts students
Students from the School of Art, Communication and English reflect on their recent experience of completing a placement with the Sydney Film Festival.

The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences has enjoyed a flourishing partnership with the Sydney Film Festival (SFF) this year. In consultation with academics in Film Studies and Sydney College of the Arts*, Ada Yeung (External Engagement Manager, FASS Strategic Partnerships and Engagement) and Judy Gilfeather Zhu (Partnership Manager, Sydney Film Festival) developed a bespoke educational partnership agreement with exciting new developments. As well as high school outreach, our students from a wide range of disciplines completed internships, which enabled students to gain genuine industry experience and articulate their skills to align with the SFF mission and direction. 

The Sydney Film Festival, built upon ideas of transformation and trust, emulates the Faculty’s vision to forge connections with brilliant young minds.  When Angel Wen, a third-year Bachelor of Arts student majoring in Media and Communications and Theatre and Performance Studies, discovered an opportunity to undertake a placement at the Sydney Film Festival, she jumped at the chance. Angel rotated between two roles, working within the Marketing team for the Travelling Film Festival and the Operations and Production team for Sydney Film Festival.  Across these positions, she effectively utilised the skills she had acquired through her degree while also acquiring new ones along the way.

Working alongside Angel in the Operations team was Jiawen Xue, an emerging producer and current Master of Moving Image student. Jiawen's role involved coordinating volunteers, venues, and production. With her short film selected for the Multicultural Film Festival in 2022, Jiawen saw the placement as a valuable opportunity to understand the behind-the-scenes process of selecting films for large festivals and gaining insights into the funding sources for arts projects. As an international student aspiring to have a career in the Australian industry, building relationships with SFF staff proved invaluable in preparing her for future endeavours. 

“Knowing different roles in the Sydney Film Festival, and their responsibilities, helps me a lot in how to choose my future job”.
Jiawen Xue, Student, Master of Moving Image

Jess Lobb, a current Creative Writing student, was involved in the Partnerships and Philanthropy team during her placement. She reflects on how her degree proved valuable in this position. “In class we discuss the social power of art — how it connects, emancipates, and enriches people. My course gave me context for the massive amount of time and emotional energy my colleagues pour into organising SFF”.

Amy Warner, majoring in Film Studies was part of the Travelling Film Festival team. Amy played a crucial role in bringing Australian and International cinema to 20 regional locations around NSW, QLD and NT in Australia, with a special focus on Newcastle and Warrawong. As a marketing and design intern, Amy was responsible for assisting with the marketing strategy of the Travelling Film Festival, undertaking tasks ranging from digital marketing to social media content creation and video editing. She firmly believes the knowledge and skills she acquired through her degree played a fundamental role in her ability to contribute effectively to her internship role.    

Four Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences students on placement at the Sydney Film Festival

Image left to right – Jessica Lobb (Bachelor of Arts, Creative Writing), Angel Wen (Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Advanced Studies Media and Communication and Theatre and Performance Studies), Jiawen Xue (Master of Moving Image), and Amy Warner (Bachelor of Arts Film Studies and Philosophy)

In addition to hosting student interns, the Sydney Film Festival warmly welcomed Year 12 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from the Tahgara Winter Program into their offices. Driven by a desire to connect people to film and storytelling, SFF treated students to a tour of their offices and a taste of what it’s like to work for an internationally recognised film festival.  Nashen Moodley (Festival Director), Frances Wallace (CEO) and other key SFF staff engaged students in discussions about their careers and shared insights into the immense effort that goes into producing a major cultural event. The experience provided students with a unique glimpse into where a passion for film and culture can lead them in the future.   

"In this milestone 70th year, Sydney Film Festival is delighted to partner with the University of Sydney, allowing the organisation to hark back to its origins and provide students with a significant involvement in contributing to Sydney Film Festival’s Living Archive."
Frances Wallace, CEO, Sydney Film Festival

"The partnership allows current and prospective students a first-hand experience at one of Australia’s most iconic film festivals. The Sydney Film Festival’s partnership with the University sits at the very heart of the work we do here, as we endeavour to inspire the next generation of both film and non-profit practitioners to continue to build film and culture in Australia. We all have a responsibility to learn from and guide the generations that come behind us and this integrated and authentic partnership with the University gives Sydney Film Festival the opportunity to do this.”

Towards the end of the year, our students will have an opportunity to submit a critical piece of work to be selected and featured permanently on the SFF Living Archives. Dr Matilda Mroz, who has been instrumental in driving the partnership activities, has customised one of the assessments in the Film Studies program to allow students to engage with films screened at SFF.

“The partnership with the Sydney Film Festival has been immensely rewarding for Film Studies students – and indeed for staff, as we move to strengthen our external-partner relationships and community engagements. The opportunity for students to intern at the Festival and to produce content for a wider public audience gives them invaluable industry experience, and in one of the most significant film-related organisations in the country no less!”
Dr Matilda Mroz, Lecturer in Film Studies

* Many thanks to Associate Professor Bruce Issacs, Dr Susan Potter, Dr Anna Broinowski and Dr Andrew Sully who were involved in the consultation phase for formulating this partnership.

Strategic Partnerships and Engagement

Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Brennan MacCallum Building, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, The University of Sydney NSW 2006

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