Sydney set straight

Letter to the editor

To the Editor:

I hope your reporting on my first Sydney Film Festival next year does not repeat the inaccuracies of Variety‘s report on this year’s closing night, the last such evening under retiring director Gayle Lake. A couple of points: firstly, to describe the 1800-seat State Theatre as only “half full'” is pure hyperbole. A handful of complimentary seats in the stalls were not claimed by guests who had RSVP’ed yes. Not an ideal situation but hardly unknown at gala events at similar festivals around the world.

Secondly, in trying to explain away the festival’s 9% audience growth this year, your correspondent observes that the event had many more sessions than last year” (true), but adds that “many of them (were) free”, which is patently untrue.

Only seven out of 230 sessions were free – four devoted to the short films of Antonioni and three to a celebration of 50 years of Oberhausen’s International Short Film Festival. That makes only 0.03% of the total number of sessions. So how does this explain a nearly 10% audience growth?

Or the 38% increase in single session tickets sold? By the way, I am male, not female – a mistake I assume was made by a sub-editor.

Lynden Barber

Artistic Director for the 2005-2006 Sydney Film Festival

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