What's The Hub, Tell Us What's A-Happening

31 May 2012 | 12:17 pm | Dave Drayton

“I’ve been going to the festival for years and always felt that one of the things which was missing was a place to hang out and to experience the festival as an insider." Mathieu Ravier talks about creating a Hub for Sydney Film Festival.

While running not-for-profit company, The Festivalists, Mathieu Ravier has helped transform Sydney's cultural landscape of late. Events like Jurassic Lounge have brought together an eclectic mix of contributors to Sydney's art scene and provided a central hub in which they can blossom. Though, Ravier is humble in his successes, “It's just from listening to people say what they'd like to see and what's missing and it's actually really easy in Sydney to get people to work together, so it's been fun.”

When organising the 2012 Sydney Film Festival, now in its 59th year, there was something missing, a hive where all this creative activity could converge, and fittingly, The Festivalists were approached to fill the void.

“I've been going to the festival for years and always felt that one of the things which was missing was a place to hang out and to experience the festival as an insider and tap into that kind of elusive festival buzz and also, you know, meet friends for a drink before or after a screening,” says Ravier.

“From travelling around the world to big festivals one of the things that always makes a big international festival come alive is the geographical centre, kind of a beating heart, and also these are delegate centres for visiting film makers and industry. So that was our motto, except that the Sydney Film Festival is a festival for the people so we, instead of making it exclusive and open only to industry people, decided to open it up to the general public and, in very classic Sydney style, to blur the boundaries between VIPs and film lovers and get everyone to mingle.

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“One of the things that I think the festival has always needed is a way in for local creatives, artists, film makers, so this allows you to be part of the festival even if you don't have a film selected, it enables you to get access to all of these amazing people that the festival's bringing in from overseas every year.”

With a program ranging from cinema-inspired burlesque and comedy, to panel discussions featuring the likes of directors Davey Chou, Bruce Beresford and Kriv Stenders, critic Richard Kuipers, and more, examining everything from the art of film trailers to their personal favourite flicks, and anchored by an exhibition of photographs featuring icons of the industry courtesy of Fabrizio Maltese, the Hub is well and truly blurring boundaries. Given that all events are free, it's also filling Ravier's desire to open doors to the general public, as well as industry.

“Making it free is a big part of that obviously, it makes the place inclusive and accessible and also it allows the festival to engage with a new audience and for that audience to engage with the festival in a new way," says Ravier. "We also tried to put together a really sweet line-up of Sydney artists in order to introduce Sydney talent to the visiting film makers and the other way around inviting prestigious international film makers and actors to come and talk in the hub and introduce them to Sydney creatives. So it's also about creating a fertile environment for people to meet and potentially collaborate in the future."