Blind Ambition and Beautiful Minds Lead the Sydney Film Festival Audience Award Winners

The 68th Sydney Film Festival wrapped on Sunday 14 November with the Australian Premiere of Wes Anderson’s comedy-drama The French Dispatch at the State Theatre.

Today the Festival announced the Audience Awards, the people’s votes for top five features and documentaries. Top voted narrative feature is Beautiful Minds directed by Bernard Campan and Alexandre Jollien and top documentary is Blind Ambition directed by Robert Coe and Warwick Ross.

Sydney Film Festival Director Nashen Moodley said: “The people have spoken – and it is with great pleasure that the Festival announces Beautiful Minds and Blind Ambition as the winners of the 2021 Audience Awards. It was brilliant to see audiences come out in support of local productions, with the majority of titles in the top five having a local connection.”

Beautiful Minds is a captivating French comedy selected as part of the Festival’s Screenability strand and was partially inspired by the real life experiences of co-director Alexandre Jollien who was born with cerebral palsy. Full of joie de vivre, the film sees a dour funeral director and philosophical delivery man embark on an unconventional road trip across France.”

“Australian directors-producers-writers Warwick Ross and Rob Coe’s Blind Ambition explores the inspiring story of four determinedly optimistic refugees who compete in the World Wine Blind Tasting Championships – the Olympics of wine – as Zimbabwe’s first-ever representatives,” he said.


The Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature Top Five:

  1. Beautiful Minds, directed by Bernard Campan and Alexandre Jollien (France, Switzerland)
  2. Wyrmwood Apocalypse, directed by Kiah Roache-Turner (Australia)
  3. Here Out West, directed by Fadia AbboudLucy GaffyAna Kokkinos and Leah Purcell (Australia)
  4. Friends and Strangers, directed by James Vaughan (Australia)
  5. Quo Vadis, Aida?, directed by Jasmila Žbanić (Bosnia and Herzegovina)

The Audience Award for Best Documentary Top Five:

  1. Blind Ambition, directed by Robert Coe and Warwick Ross (Australia)
  2. I’m Wanita, directed by Matthew Walker (Australia) – also the winner of the 2019 Documentary Australia Foundation Award
  3. When the Camera Stopped Rolling, directed by Jane Castle (Australia)
  4. The Seeds of Vandana Shiva, directed by James Becket and Camilla Becket (Australia, USA)
  5. Araatika: Rise Up!, directed by Larissa Behrendt (Australia)
    tied with Ithaka directed by Ben Lawrence (Australia)

Sydney Film Festival CEO Leigh Small said: “A number of films appearing at the 68th Sydney Film Festival were seen and invited in late 2019, and audiences began to buy tickets at the end of that year. So, after segueing to a June 2020 67th Virtual Edition and delaying the festival twice, SFF finally made it into cinemas two weeks after the lifting of COVID restrictions and two months before the end of 2021.”

“With COVID capacity restrictions and a smaller program, we were thrilled to see cinemas over 55% full and 52 sessions sold out. Not only did audiences come out; 104 sessions featured a filmmaker or live SFF introduction, and 42 international filmmakers made virtual introductions. Also, importantly for many of our Australian filmmakers they not only came to share their premieres with an audience, but also with each other for the first time in a cinema,” she said.

Minister for the Arts Don Harwin said: “As we returned to the city in November to celebrate and revel in Sydney’s favourite cinema spaces, the 68th Sydney Film Festival has moved us all.”

“The NSW Government, through Screen NSW, was pleased to support the Sydney Film Festival once again, and now we continue that investment as the Travelling Film Festival hits the road with no less than 13 regional NSW stops.”

“Congratulations to all who have made it possible for us to come together and enjoy another fantastic Festival,” he said.

Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore said: “What a welcome, breath-of-fresh-air the Sydney Film Festival has been this year, with a really terrific selection of international and Australian productions drawing crowds back into our theatres and the city as we re-open post-lockdown.”

“There has truly been a film for everyone this year, from the opening night offering Here Out West – a wonderful celebration of Australia’s rich multicultural heartland from young local filmmakers – to the highly anticipated closing film The French Dispatch by extraordinary auteur Wes Anderson.”

“A hearty congratulations to all this year’s winners, and to the festival for breathing life back into the city,” she said.

As part of SFF On Demand, Audience Award top five films are available to stream nationally until Nov 21 including Documentary Australia Foundation Award for Australian Documentary winner I’m WanitaFriends and StrangersWhen the Camera Stopped Rolling and Araatika: Rise Up!.

Other Award winners On Demand include Sydney Film Prize winner There Is No EvilI’m WanitaPeepstough and Freedom Swimmer.

The full Sydney Film Festival 2021 program can be found online at

SFF On Demand’s online program runs 12-21 November. Tickets to Sydney Film Festival 2021 are on sale now. Please call 1300 733 733 or visit for more information.


Cinephiles across Australia are still able toenjoy an impressive selection of titles from the 68th Sydney Film Festival online as part of SFF On Demand until 21 November.

Single rentals start from $15, with a variety of packages available from $14-$130.

What: SFF On Demand
When: Friday 12 November – Sunday 21 November, 2021
Where: Online
Full program details and ticketing information can be found HERE

Press Release

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