Film journalist for The Australian newspaper, Lynden Barber, is the new director of the 2005 and 2006 Sydney Film Festival, taking over from Gayle Lake on July 1 after the completion of this year's event.

Announcing the appointment, festival president Cathy Robinson said there had been "an exhaustive search in Australia and overseas, with dozens of candidates listed and a lengthy process employed to produce the best result for the Festival's future".

"Lynden has emerged as a tremendous choice, having presented some outstanding concepts for the festival. The board believes both Lynden's role as an opinion leader in film and his personal vision for the festival will ensure his significant contribution to the continuing re-development of the festival," Robinson said.

Barber was a film critic for The Sydney Morning Herald before joining The Australian.