Sydney Film Festival Announces Opening Night Film ‘We Are Still Here’

we are still here sff opening night gala

Opening the 2022 Sydney Film Festival will be the world premiere of the Pacific First Nations film We Are Still Here.

Weaving together eight stories told by 10 different directors from Australia, Aotearoa New Zealand and the South Pacific, the stories of We Are Still Here is a multi-genre First Nations collaboration that spans over 1,000 years.

Producer Mia Henry-Tierney said in a statement that the team was “truly honoured” to be able to hold the world premiere of the film at the Sydney Film Festival.

“This film is a testament to the strength and resilience of First Nations people all over the world, and we dedicate this success to our ancestors of the past, and our descendants of the future,” Henry-Tierney added.

we are still here sydney film festival sff opening night gala first nations australia
Credit: Sydney Film Festival

The film follows eight protagonists and highlights the strength of love and hope that Indigenous people from Australia, Aotearoa New Zealand and the South Pacific draw on to overcome the shared traumas faced to this day.

A press release from SFF states: “The film was conceived as a right of reply for Indigenous filmmakers to tell anthology stories about colonisation of native peoples throughout the Pacific and to respond to the 250th anniversary of James Cook’s maiden voyage to the Pacific.”

The filmmakers who collaborated on We Are Still Here include Australian directors Beck Cole, Danielle MacLean, Tracey Rigney, and Dena Curtis, as well as New Zealand directors Tim Worrall, Richard Curtis, Renae Maihi, Miki Magasiva, Chantelle Burgoyn and Mario Gaoa. It is produced by Mitchell Stanley, Toni Stowers and Mia Henry-Teirney, and is a joint initiative between Screen Australia’s First Nations Department and the New Zealand Film Commission.

we are still here sydney film festival sff opening night gala first nations australia
Credit: Sydney Film Festival

Starring in the project are Clarence Ryan, Tioreore Ngatai-Melbourne, Leonie Whyman and Calvin Tuteao.

Nashen Moodley, the Director of the Sydney Film Festival, said in a statement that “We Are Still Here highlights the vibrant storytelling talents of First Nations filmmakers in our region”.

“We’re delighted to open our 2022 Festival, with the world premiere of this multifaceted and impactful film and usher back in the return of our Opening Night Gala after three years, celebrating the film, the Festival and our local industry,” Moodley added.

We Are Still Here will premiere at the SFF Opening Night Gala on Wednesday, June 8 at the State Theatre. There will be a post-screening celebration afterwards, which will be held at Sydney Town Hall.

The 69th Sydney Film Festival will run from Wednesday, 8 June to Sunday, 19 June 2022. The full program will be announced on May 11, 2022. Tickets are on sale now.

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