Miguel Gomes’ six-hour, three-part Arabian Nights takes out 62nd Sydney Film Prize

arabian nights sff

Last night marked the end of yet another successful Sydney Film Festival as the traditional Closing Night Gala saw SFF awards announced and the world premiere of Neil Armfield’s anticipated film adaptation of Holding the Man.

Before the screening, which was met with a rapturous, emotional applause, a one-hour awards ceremony was conducted in Sydney’s historic State Theatre. Sydney Film Festival CEO Leigh Small began with the news that the 62nd SFF has marked the eighth consecutive year of growth in attendance. This year, the festivals saw over 176,000 people explore the diverse program of screenings, events, and talks.

Small also announced that current SFF Director Nashan Moodley will continue his role for another four year term.

The pre-screening ceremony concluded with the announcement of winners across the Sydney Film Prize, The Dendy Awards, and more. The full list of winners is as follows:

Australian Short Screenplay Award
Darlene Johnson “Bluey”

The Dendy Awards for Australian Short Films: Yoram Gross Animation Award
Anthony Lawrence “Grace Under Water”

Dendy Live Action Short Film Award
Sotiris Dounoukos “A Single Body”

Rouben Mamoulian Award for Best Director
Brooke Goldfinch “Red Rover”

Documentary Australia Foundation Award for Australian Documentary
Michael Ware and Bill Guttentag “Only the Dead”

Sydney Film Prize
Miguel Gomes “Arabian Nights”

Gomes’ off-beat humour in his acceptance video was well-received by the sold out State Theatre, with the Portugese Director seemingly shocked by the accolade and $62,000 prize.

Ambitious, indignant and filled with offbeat humour, Miguel Gomes’ extraordinary new film draws on the structure of ‘Arabian Nights’ to create a vivid portrait of Portugal today. Following Tabu (SFF 2012), Gomes was anguished by the austerity measures imposed on his homeland and commissioned journalists to gather true stories from all over the country that were then fictionalised. The outcome is a heady blend of the surreal and the all too real, told in a series of thrilling segments. As Gomes says in his captivating voiceover narration: “I thought I could make a fine film, filled with wonderful and seductive stories. At the same time, I thought the film could follow Portugal’s current miserable situation. Any muttonhead understands that, more or less skilfully, one of these two films can be made. But it’s impossible to make both at once.” Gomes has gone down that “impossible” path, and has made a singular film. It is a snapshot of his country in economic strife and a collection of riveting stories that will resonate far beyond Portugal’s borders.

Arabian Nights was up against 11 other films in the festival’s Official Competition, including:

Black Souls
The Daughter – REVIEW
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence – REVIEW
Sherpa – REVIEW
Strangerland – REVIEW
Tehran Taxi – REVIEW
Victoria – REVIEW
Vincent – REVIEW

Stay tuned as we bring your our final reviews from Sydney Film Festival, including a review of Holding the Man. Our reviews so far can be found at our Sydney Film Festival hub HERE