Sydney Film Festival Spotlights First Nations Storytelling

The 68th Sydney Film Festival with Screen Australia’s First Nations Department, and through a new partnership alignment with Deutsche Bank, continues to celebrate First Nations storytelling from Australia and around the world.

“Sydney Film Festival is committed to First Nations storytelling and proud to showcase these impactful films,” said Festival Director Nashen Moodley.

“From Australian First Nations filmmaker Larissa Behrendt’s rousing documentary following a group of NRL stars as they create a pre-game performance to meet the famous haka in Araatika: Rise Up!; to Canada-New Zealand production Night Raiders, a thrilling sci-fi tale of Indigenous resistance directed by Cree/Métis filmmaker Danis Goulet and executive produced by Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows, SFF 2014), to Lyle Mitchell Corbine Jr’s powerful slow-burn thriller, Wild Indian, this year’s program of First Nations films deal engagingly with issues both contemporary and historical.”

Screen Australia’s Head of First Nations, Angela Bates said, “We are delighted to be partnering with Sydney Film Festival for another year, shining a light on First Nations filmmakers and stories from both Australia and around the world. It’s great to see Larissa Behrendt’s documentary Araatike: Rise Up!, following NRL star Dean Widders’ journey to counter racism in NRL selected for this year’s program, and I hope those who tuned in for the Grand Final this past weekend will come and see this thought-provoking documentary at Sydney Film Festival.”

“This year’s program showcases the breadth of stories from our Australian First Nations filmmakers. It’s exciting to see Leah Purcell’s The Drover’s Wife The Legend of Molly Johnson, which has already captivated audiences at international and local film festivals, selected for the program and audiences can uncover short films including Finding Jedda and Shiny One from our No Ordinary Black short film initiative with NITV, and The Moogai from Jon Bell. There are also incredibly powerful documentaries including Incarceration Nation and The Bowraville Murders, both of which have screened on SBS, which will spark important conversations and be deeply affecting for audiences who see it on the big screen,” she said.

As part of the Festival Talks Program, the screening of Araatika: Rise Up! will be followed by a virtual post-film discussion with the powerhouse academic, writer, Indigenous rights advocate and director of the film, Larissa Behrendt, and central character former NRL footballer, Dean Widders, presented in partnership with UTS.

First Nation stories from around the world include: Night Raiders; and Sundance Grand Jury Prize nominee Wild Indian, from First Nations filmmaker Lyle Mitchell Corbine Jr, a slow-burn thrillerexploring the haunting consequences of a decades old murder committed by two cousins.

Other films from First Nations filmmakers in the line-up include The Bowraville MurdersHere Out WestIncarceration NationThe Drover’s Wife The Legend of Molly JohnsonFist of Fury Noongar DaaRadianceand Wash My Soul in the River’s Flow.

Short films from Indigenous Australian filmmakers screening at the Festival include: The Eagle, The Crow and the Bat from the SharingStories Foundation, Finding Jedda, Dendy Awards short film finalist, The MoogaiJarliSunnies, and Shiny One.

Indigenous short stories from across the globe included are: Svonni vs the Swedish Taxation Office, This is the Way We Rise, and from New Zealand, Daddy’s Girl.

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

Sydney Film Festival runs in cinema 3–14 November 2021. 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.

More Stories
CinefestOZ Short Film Award Finalists Revealed