The Sydney Film Festival will become a competitive event for new directors, probably starting with its 50th edition in 2003, if it raises enough funding.

The International Federation of Film Producers' Associations (FIAPF), which accredits international film festivals, has already given its formal approval for the plan.

Sydney director Gayle Lake told Screen International that the event's current A$1.2m budget would have to increase by as much as A$600,000 - not including "in-kind" sponsorship - to accommodate the costs of marketing, additional staff, an international jury and the film-makers behind the eight to ten competition titles that would be pre-selected.

"The Noosa experience taught us that a competitive festival has to be well crafted, planned and pitched, and supported by the domestic and global industry," said Lake referring to financially-troubled Noosa Film Festival which took place for the first and last time last year.

Lake, speaking today (August 15) at a reception for media and potential sponsors, added that the festival is going through "an extraordinary and exhilarating" period of growth but that care would be taken to preserve current features. The festival is planning to launch side-bars dedicated to on-line exhibition, digital production and new cinema to add to current strands focusing on Asian, local, world and documentary cinema.