CATE Blanchett stepped out in her home town to show her support for the Sydney Film Festival.
She was among a number of high-profile film stars, including Hugo Weaving, and Shane Jacobsen from Kenny, at the opening-night screening of La Vie En Rose on Friday.
The glamorous A-list audience was enraptured by an Australian short film, Nana, which screened as a surprise opening to the two-week festival. The audience then laughed uproariously as various politicians and festival officials talked, on screen, about their favourite films.
Senator Helen Coonan said she loved Gone With The Wind, and out of all the female characters, compared herself to Scarlett O’Hara. NSW Planning Minister Frank Sartor described his passion for Star Wars, saying: "In politics, you need the force."
But while the celebrity quotient was strong at opening night – despite the wild weather – organisers hope it will be the public which embraces the festival.
First-time executive director of the festival Clare Stewart said the program had been expanded to include children’s films and to provide better access for the disabled by improving facilities and screening films relevant to their lives.
New venues include the Metro Theatre on George Street which will host screenings and live music acts. Ms Stewart said she wanted to increase "the party factor" and attract younger audiences.
Blanchett stars in In The Company Of Actors, a behind-the-scenes documentary of her performance in Hedda Gabler with the Sydney Theatre Company.
Other anticipated Australian films include Lucky Miles, a comedy about three boat people trying to elude capture in Australia, and West, a drama based on two cousins growing up in Sydney’s western suburbs.