Katrina Sedgwick is stepping down after almost a decade in the job

After creating a film event of international renown, founding director Katrina Sedgwick is leaving the Adelaide Film Festival.

“Nine and a half years is the longest I have ever had in a job, I’ve done five festivals, it has been an amazing learning curve, and it is now time for a change and a new challenge,” she told ScreenDaily.

The biennial festival was the first in Australia to introduce an international competition and a production fund and ticket sales have grown by 20 per cent each year. It has also pioneered a development laboratory and newly-created second production fund under “The Hive” banner, which encourages collaboration between people from different art forms, including music, dance, the visual arts and film.

“The role of the moving image and screen-based work has changed dramatically and it is now very pervasive and it makes sense to cross pollinate with other art forms,” said Sedgwick.

She has no plans for the future but, given her performing arts background and her keen interest in initiatives like this, she may not end up in film. That said, the part of the job she has enjoyed most was making decisions on what to support through the original fund. The festival was usually a minority investor in features but in a number of cases was very influential. Ten Canoes, Look Both Ways, The Home Song Stories, Last Ride, Samson and Delilah and this year’s Snowtown and Shut Up Little Man are among the films it supported.

“The investment fund allows for flexibility and risk-taking … Shaping it in this way and choosing projects to suit the festival means we can experiment in ways that other agencies cannot,” Sedgwick continued.

The buzz around the Australian films often overshadows the competition films but this doesn’t bother Sedgwick.“The competition is an entry point for audiences and it gives us access to titles we might not get otherwise, but what’s really important is the presence of the jury: they spend 12 days of quality time hanging out with our filmmakers.”

Sedgwick said it was a challenge to start a festival that would be relevant to Adelaide, the rest of Australia and the rest of the world. She feels like she’s achieved that and suspects that making a festival appropriate to the city and to the state’s broader strategy is what she’ll be most proud of in years to come.

The Adelaide Film Festival has always been held in late February/early March but is moving to October. In 2013 it will run from Oct 10-20.