AFI Awards to switch to Sydney

AFI Awards, NSW announcement: Kristina Keneally, Morry Schwartz, Cate Blanchett, Damian Trewhella and John O'NeillThe Australian Film Institute Awards are to return to Sydney from next year, with the aim of internationalising their focus with a public ceremony that will include the Sydney Opera House, Harbour Bridge, Circular Quay and The Rocks in the event.

The announcement was made by NSW Premier Kristina Keneally.

The AFI Awards, which started life in 1958, recognise achievements in film and television. They were last held in Sydney in 2000, and have been based in Melbourne since.  

The Victorian state government decided not to continue to fund the AFIs after 2010 on the grounds of cost.

A three-year deal – with an option to extend it for a further three – will see NSW commit between $1.5 and 2 million per year. According to Events NSW Chair John O’Neill, the deal includes a rights fee, along with additional funding for marketing of the event.

Part of the internationalisation plan includes taking advantage of Sydney’s world-famous sights, so the ceremony will find a new home at the Sydney Opera House in November 2011. With almost two years to prepare the first of the new NSW AFIs, O’Neill said the plans are already well advanced, and include projecting photos of the nominees onto the pylons of the Harbour Bridge, as well as showing the live event at giant screens at Circular Quay, The Rocks and the Opera House forecourt

“We want it to be a very inclusive public event, using projections, the live sites, and ensuring that it’s broadcast to the biggest possible audience using the internet,” said O’Neill.

No broadcast partner has been signed on for the 2011 AFI Awards. Channel Nine is the current partner. Samsung Mobile will remain as naming sponsor.

Also taking part in the announcement along with (from left) Keneally were AFI chairman Morry Schwartz, AFI Ambassador Cate Blanchett and AFI CEO Damian Trewhella.


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