The Sydney Science Fiction Film Festival (SSFFF) has confirmed that the inaugural SSFFF Virtual Festival Experience will launch on November 4, providing the opportunity for a national audience to see the best speculative feature and short film storytelling from all over the world.

Australia’s leading science fiction/fantasy film event has partnered with the U.S.-based streaming service XERB to provide a secure, state-of-the-art home-viewing experience. The SSFFF Virtual Festival Experience will run for three weeks, from November 4th to 25th, accessed online via the streaming service’s platform, custom built with the SSFFF team.

The virtual program will run in conjunction with the physical festival, still slated to unfold at the Actors Centre Australia in the inner-west suburb of Leichhardt. Due to pandemic uncertainty, the in-person festival dates have undergone a restructuring, with Opening Night now set to be Thursday November 11 and the celebrations wrapping the evening of Sunday 14th.

For Festival Director Simon Foster, it is another step towards making the festival one of truly global standing. “The online screening season brings the Sydney Science Fiction Film Festival into the new era of festival going,” he says, citing major festivals such as Cannes, Toronto and Melbourne that have adapted to Covid conditions via web viewing tech. “By partnering with Xerb, we’ve not only countered pandemic pressures but also responded to sci-fi fans all over Australia who have reached out to us, encouraging us to bring our films interstate.”

The Sydney connection is another feather in the cap for Xerb, whose Australian launch will be in partnership with the A Night of Horror Virtual Film Festival in late October. "As a tech startup on the opposite side of planet Earth, we can't tell you how exciting it is to team with the Sydney Science Fiction Film Festival,” says Eric Streeper, Founder and CEO of Xerb. “It's a privilege to work with them and help bring the best sci-fi filmmakers from around the world directly to Australians in an engaging, fun, and social online experience."

While the festival line-up will not be revealed for a few weeks, the online realm has afforded the SSFFF programming team leeway to increase the films on offer. “It’s certainly a case of making lemonade out of lemons, content wise” says Foster of the hand dealt by Delta, confirming that the program will feature Exclusive Virtual Premieres, feature films not available to Sydney audiences, and an expanded shorts selection. “This sort of development was certainly anticipated and has been thrust upon us sooner than expected, but it means that 2021 will be remembered not as a speed bump in our growth, but rather a landmark year.”

Further details regarding the 2021 SSFFF Virtual Festival Experience include:
The event is geo-blocked to Australia states and territories (excluding New South Wales, ensuring tickets sales to the physical festival aren’t compromised);
Filmmakers have the opportunity to create a Xerb account, launch a profile page and upload your film yourself, maintaining complete control and transparency;
All content is protected by XERB’s state-of-the-art technology ( ).

Ticketing details and session information will be announced soon.

The Sydney Science Fiction Film Festival patron and the organisation's Board Members will preside over the following three honours:

THE RON COBB BEST FEATURE FILM: The feature (over 40 mins) that best exemplifies the vision, values and ambitions of the Sydney Science Fiction Film Festival. Named in honour of the late Ron Cobb, an adopted son of Sydney and iconic conceptual artist on such films as Dark Star, Alien, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Conan the Barbarian and The Abyss.

THE ADAM LEE MEMORIAL AWARD: Awarded to a figure in the science fiction/fantasy community who has exhibited a dedication to their life’s work and served the genre and its fanbase with the enthusiasm and passion. Adam Lee was a Melbourne film archivist and genre fan who passed away in July 2021.

BEST SHORT FILM: The short (under 40 mins) that best exemplifies the vision, values and ambitions of the Sydney Science Fiction Film Festival.

BEST ACTOR (Feature Film) and BEST ACTOR (Short Film)

BEST ACTRESS (Feature Film) and BEST ACTRESS (Short Film)

BEST DIRECTOR (Feature Film) and BEST DIRECTOR (Short Film)

SSFFF AUDIENCE AWARD: The most popular feature film as voted upon by Sydney Science Fiction Film Festival audiences.

BERLIN SCI-FI FILMFEST AUTOMATIC ACCEPTANCE AWARD: One title will receive automatic inclusion in the 2021 Berlin Sci-fi Filmfest, the winner agreed upon by festival directors in Sydney and Berlin.

Terms and Conditions:

1. All filmmakers/applicants or entity submitting a film to the Sydney Science Fiction Film Festival (hereafter known as “SSFFF”), accept and agree to comply with the following Terms and Conditions. The person submitting a film to SSFFF is hereafter known as ‘You’ or ‘Your’.

2. We welcome films from any country in the world. If the film is in any other language other than English, the submission requires embedded English subtitles.

3. We only accept films that have been produced during and after 2019.

4. All submission fees are non-refundable. Please do not ask for a full fee waiver. Waivers are only offered to films invited to screen by SSFFF.

5. How to submit:
• Complete and submit Your online submission form.
• Pay relevant submission fee
• Films can only be submitted via the FilmFreeway platform.
You will receive confirmation of Your successful registration

6. Student and Young Filmmaker category entrants must be registered in a recognised film school, university, college, high school, middle school or elementary school with proof of ID from the institution to qualify for the relevant fees. You must supply the following:
• Your Student ID
• Name of school, college or university
• Name of Your Course
• Lecture or teacher
• Email of lecturer or teacher

7. FAN FILMS: SSFFF will accept fan films to this festival. You must have all permissions from the copyright holder and/or franchise holder and/or intellectual property owner and reveal those for the SSFFF upon request.

8. Filmmakers submitting must supply:
• Production credits/contact details
• 5 (five) photos for promotional purposes, (min. resolution 1024 x 576 pixels)
• Press Kit for promotional use by SSFFF
• Film Poster
• A trailer and/or scene clips from the film (ProRes 422 Full HD; 1920x1080 or higher).

9. A .DCP file of the full film must be supplied for the SSFFF screening, unless an alternate format is otherwise agreed upon by SSFFF.

10. Once a film is accepted by SSFFF and programmed, it cannot be withdrawn from the festival line-up, other than at the discretion of the SSFFF.

11. The SSFFF undertake to make every effort to adhere to the published schedule program. However, SSFFF reserves the right to alter this schedule and venue at any time for any reason. SSFFF does not accept any liability for any costs claimed to arise as a result of a change in the scheduling.

12. Awards may be presented during the SSFFF, at the discretion of the organisers and the Jury Panel (where applicable).

13. By submitting a film, You grant us the right to screen Your film at one or more SSFFF event, copy and/or reproduce, modify, adapt and any part thereof, up to one (1) minute of the film submission. We may also use Your submission and any other promotional material/photo’s and/or information submitted by You to communicate it to the public in all media, including via our website and publicity materials, or to advertise and promote SSFFF event(s), its products and services, or all, and to showcase Your film.

14. You own the copyright to Your film as its author and represent and warrant that You have (and will continue to have during the duration of SSFFF and thereafter) all necessary licenses, rights, consents, and permissions we need to use Your film and You will provide evidence of such on our reasonable request.

15. We accept no responsibility for any damage, loss, liabilities or injury incurred or suffered by any person as a result of submitting a film to SSFFF and its curation and all related events.

16. You indemnify and hold harmless SSFFF from and against any and all claims, liabilities, losses, damages, and expenses (including but not limited to attorney’s fees, and costs of the court) which may be incurred by reason of any claim involving copyright, trademark, credits, publicity, screening, and loss of or damage to the screening materials entered.

17. By submitting, You agree that you have read and understood these terms & conditions of entry.

18. The SSFFF reserve the right, at our sole discretion, to change, modify or otherwise alter these 'Terms and Conditions' at any time. Unless otherwise indicated, amendments will become effective immediately.

For further information contact SIMON FOSTER, Festival Director.

Overall Rating
  • Clarity and humanity in a world of droids! Simon and his crew are the real deal. Love the way they communicate and the warm personal touch they have with everything they do. Great experience and full marks from me!

    March 2021
  • This was one of the best festivals I have attended. Fantastic communication from the organisers, a great selection of films, and a packed house in a great venue. Thanks for screening 'Brolga'!

    November 2020
    Response from festival:

    It was such a joy seeing you at the festival and a true honour to have played a small part in the incredible success that Brolga has earned. Can't wait to see your next film!
    Simon Foster
    Festival Director

  • Luis Arnet

    5 out of 5 stars in every aspect of this festival. As an inaugural event, this year's festival ran like clockwork. Simon Foster and his team have pulled off something incredible here, all working towards the holy goal of bringing fantastic science fiction content to the masses. I feel incredible privileged to have had a film as a part of the first year of this festival's run, and am excited to continue to submit films to the festival in many years to come. Would highly recommend this festival, one of the smoothest runs I've been a part of, doesn't feel like a 'new' festival in any of the negative ways. Great job Simon!!

    November 2020
    Response from festival:

    Thank you so much, Luis. You made an incredibly accomplishment film and we were honoured and very lucky to screen it.
    Simon Foster
    Festival Director

  • Debbie Zhou

    Such a fantastic festival to be apart of especially in their first year, Simon and his team were very communicative from the beginning and it was very well organised. They clearly know what they're doing, and it was an honour to be selected with such an impressive and diverse cohort of films. Looking forward to attending it in person next year!

    November 2020
    Response from festival:

    Thank so much, Debbie! MILK was a blast of fresh air from beginning to end and all the festival team loved it. So glad young Levi Burgess got a Best Actor (Short Film) nomination.
    Simon Foster
    Festival Director

  • Oscar Butragueno

    Great Festival. Simon Foster and his team did a tremendous job getting this edition ongoing despite all the pandemic challenges. Great communication, social media, and keeping the participants abreast. Our lead actor was so happy as was everybody in the Queen of Lizards. The team brought up an excellent selection and I will surely keep submitting to the Sydney Science Fiction Film Festival in years to come, watch this space!

    November 2020
    Response from festival:

    The Queen of Lizards is a remarkable film - exactly the type of challenging, engaging, groundbreaking work that comes along very rarely but that I always want in my festival. Thanks so much for being part of the debut festival.
    Simon Foster
    Festival Director