Sydney Film Festival director Clare Stewart will ankle at the end of the June 8-19 edition, after five years at the helm.

Stewart took over from Lyndon Barber and has presided over the fest during a period of change. It recently started a competition that has grown in strength, and the award it presents is the country’s richest film kudo.

Sydney festival CEO Leigh Small said Stewart’s other contribution was the “pathways” approach to programming the fest, with strands attractive to audience members such as Fire Me Up, Make Me Laugh and Freak Me Out.

It also took a more flexible approach to ticketing with more single tickets and a flexipass available.

“The event has opened up and become accessible to a large new audience,” said Small. “For example, 40% of our audience over the past three years is new.”

Small said audience research last year showed subscribers now account for just 13% of the aud, with flexipass holders accounting for 42% and single ticket sales 45%. She adds that current ticket sales are on track to reach, or even surpass, last year’s record.Small also gives the outgoing director credit for drawing the first international jury prexy, Chinese helmer Chen Kaige, and making the competition a “cornerstone of the festival.”