The 66th Sydney Film Festival begins with the premiere of Palm Beach

The 66th Sydney Film Festival (5 – 16 June) has opened at the State Theatre with the World Premiere of Australian drama/comedy Palm Beach.

Festival Director Nashen Moodley was pleased to open his eighth Festival to a packed auditorium including Palm Beach director Rachel Ward and producers Bryan Brown and Deborah Balderstone, alongside cast members Aaron Jefferies, Jacqueline McKenzie, Heather Mitchell, Sam Neill, Greta Scacchi, Claire van der Boom, and Frances Berry.

Following an announcement of increased NSW Government funding by the Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Minister for the Arts Don Harwin commented, “Launching with Palm Beach is the perfect salute to great Australian filmmaking in a year that will showcase a bumper list of contemporary Australian stories, including 24 World Premieres.”

“As one of the world’s longest-running film festivals, I’m delighted to build on our support for the Festival and Travelling Film Festival over the next four years with increased funding of over $5 million, and look forward to the exciting plans in store,” he said.

Sydney Film Festival Board Chair, Deanne Weir said, “The Sydney Film Festival Board are thrilled and grateful to the New South Wales Government for this renewed and increased support. The government’s commitment recognizes the ongoing success of the Festival as one of the great film festivals of the world; and the leading role New South Wales plays in the Australian film industry.”

Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore also spoke, declaring the Festival open. “The Sydney Film Festival’s growth and evolution has reflected that of Sydney itself – giving us a window to other worlds, to enjoy new and different ways of thinking and being, and to reach a greater understanding of ourselves and our own place in the world.”

“The City of Sydney is proud to continue our support for the Sydney Film Festival. We are also proud to once again offer the Sydney Film Festival a home for The Hub in Lower Town Hall – where you can meet friends (and strangers!) to discuss the films you’ve seen, attend a post-screening party, or one of the brilliant talks or panels with filmmakers,” she said.

Vin Naidoo, Senior Manager, Marketing, Lexus Australia, said, “Lexus is proud to have supported Australian filmmaking for many years. Film has been an intrinsic part of our brand – for us, it’s about the experiences, going beyond vehicle manufacturing and retailing, and film is a big part of that.”

Set at Sydney’s spectacular Palm Beach, the film follows lifelong friends who gather to celebrate a milestone birthday, only for tension to mount when new and old resentments arise, along with the threat of an old secret coming to light.

In attendance was NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, and Governor of NSW Margaret Beazley. A long list of SFF 2019 jury members, filmmakers and cast also attended, including: 2019 SFF Official Competition Jury President John Maynard, and jury members Ann Kokkinos, Gaylene Preston, Wagner Moura, and Ritu Sarin; The Final Quarter director Ian Darling, Judy & Punch lead actors Mia Wasikowska and Damon Herriman, and producer Nash Edgerton.

Other guests included: comedic showman Tim Minchin; Deadline Gallipoli actor Joel Jackson; Rake actor Matt Day; actor Cameron Robbie (Margot Robbie’s brother); film critic Margaret Pomeranz; The Last Impresario director Gracie Otto; The House of Hancock actress Mandy McElhinney; actor/ comedian Rob Carlton; Wolf Creek actor John Jarratt; Breath actress Megan Hajjar; and 1% (SFF 2017) actor Ryan Corr.

The full Sydney Film Festival 2019 program can be found online at

Source: Sydney Film Festival

Hayman Island Makes The Reef a Priority On World Ocean Day

There are few destinations on Earth that can call the Great Barrier Reef – one of the seven wonders of the natural world – its home. For World Ocean Day, Hayman Island by InterContinental is making a pledge to protect its spectacular surroundings.

When Hayman Island by InterContinental opens to the world on 1 July, the resort will exclusively supply its guests with reef-safe sunscreen in an effort to be actively involved in the conservation of the reef and the wider effects of toxic sunscreen on the world’s oceans.

All guests will also be encouraged to join the pledge, with information and guidance being provided through pre-arrival communications, the resort’s website and the guests’ in-room Guest Compendium. Guests will be guided through the products available for use on-island and the wider effects of choosing to use non-reef safe alternatives.

The decision has been informed by a myriad of international scientific research on the long-lasting effects of sunscreen ingredients on the world’s reef ecosystems. Hayman Island by InterContinental will be embracing environmentally-friendly Australian owned We Are Feel Good Inc. products as a biologically-safer sunscreen alternative to offer guests staying at the luxury resort.

We Are Feel Good Inc. products will be the sole products on offer for guests to use and purchase at the resort due to its philosophy of avoiding ingredients that have been scientifically proven to cause harm to our world’s reef ecosystems.

Dr Scott McGregor, Co-Founder and Product Developer at We Are Feel Good Inc. said, “We are proud and delighted to be working with Hayman Island by InterContinental, a brand partner who shares our passion for providing quality products that are backed by science and guided by the importance to fiercely protect against destructive environmental impact, as well as personal health.”

“From the outset we designed our sunscreens to protect our skin but also not to harm our environment, and, along with co-founder Jake Paterson, we have been very conscious of the potential harm to reef systems. Progressive Governments around the world are starting to ban certain UV filters, confirmed by research to potentially harm reef systems, from products. We have ensured all our sunscreens are free of such filters in a bid to reduce any environmental impact.”

This pledge announced for World Ocean Day joins a plethora of additional initiatives the iconic private island resort is implementing to ensure the resort is on the front foot of sustainability when it opens.

Mark Eletr, General Manager of Hayman Island by InterContinental said, “Studies have shown that every minute, up to one million plastic bottles are being purchased with only 23% of these being recycled. Whilst we understand that people’s individual choices about what they put in our oceans is out of our control, we recognise we can control what occurs in our extraordinary surrounds and can seek to inspire our guests at Hayman Island to do so also. From our ban on single use plastic to our commitment to reef-safe sunscreen, through simple yet strong initiatives we hope to not only protect our sacred local environment, but also educate our visitors and guests on easy sustainable practices.”

The sand to glass crusher is a unique initiative on island to recycle and reuse what would otherwise be waste. The crusher function will crush all glass bottles used to make a silicone ‘sand’ product that will be recycled and used across the island in areas such as the gardens.

No plastic water bottles will be used in-room or be for sale on island. Upon check-in, all guests will receive their own reusable water bottle to use for drinking water on the island which will also be theirs to take home. The Hayman Island bottles will also available to buy in the island’s boutique store, The Grove, if more wish to be purchased. There will be multiple still filtered water stations placed conveniently across the resort for guest’s ease of use.

The resort is investing in a state-of-the-art fully automated room technology system to ensure thermal efficiency is optimum and maximum energy in-room is conserved. When guests are not in the room, the lights, air conditioning, curtains, blinds and appliances are adjusted to optimise thermal efficiency and reduce the use of energy.

A motion censored system is then activated the moment guests return to their room with the system automatically activating the lights/aircon/appliances and opening the blinds – welcoming them back to their stunning accommodation. The technology has been carefully designed so the room feels cool and refreshing from the moment they step through the door whilst conserving maximum energy.

Source: Hayman Island by InterContinental

Moët & Chandon hosts Moët Imperial 150th Anniversary Event

Moët & Chandon hosted a glamorous event at the iconic Sydney Town Hall to mark the 150th Anniversary of Moët Impérial, an important milestone in the extraordinary journey of a global icon of celebration and the French champagne House’s signature brut champagne that has epitomized its unwavering commitment to excellence.

Hosted by Moët & Chandon President and CEO, Stéphane Baschiera alongside special guest, Moët & Chandon Ambassador, Jesinta Franklin, the black-tie dinner was attended by 150 celebrities, influencers, media and friends of the brand.

Following the spectacular black carpet arrival into Town Hall, guests enjoyed the Impérial 1869 cocktail that was created for the occasion and to highlight the beautiful fresh flowers of the champagne.

Moving into the Centennial Hall, guests then enjoyed a two-course meal curated by renowned French chef, Guillaume Brahimi that was superbly paired to Moët Impérial from the new limited edition anniversary bottles.

To finish off the dinner, hosts, Stéphane Baschiera and Jesinta Franklin made the ultimate grand gesture and poured the 20 tier Moët Impérial champagne tower before announcing a surprise performance by Hayden James in the Moët & Chandon Studio 1869 after party.

The 150-guest list included Ambassador Jesinta Franklin, The Hon Julie Bishop and Friends of the Brand including Olympia Valance, Erin Holland and Terry and Anthony Minichiello.

Jesinta Franklin commented on the evening, “It was an honour to host Moët Impérial’s 150th Anniversary event last night with CEO, Stéphane Baschiera. The iconic venue, food, champagne and after party was an incredible celebration.”

To honour 150 years of Moët Impérial, Moët & Chandon will have its most emblematic champagne available in the limited-edition anniversary bottles that are inscribed with a redesigned logo that erects the “I” of “Impérial” into a new symbol.

Source: Moet & Chandon

Maude, Curtis Stone’s Restaurant in Beverly Hills, is Awarded a Michelin Star

Coinciding with its fifth-year anniversary, Maude has received a Michelin star in the Michelin Guide’s return to Los Angeles after almost a decade. The 2019 California Guide covers the entire state including San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego. Twenty-four restaurants were awarded stars in Los Angeles and a total of 90 restaurants received honours throughout the state.

Realising a lifelong dream, chef Curtis Stone opened his first solo restaurant, Maude in February 2014. Affectionately named after his late paternal grandmother, the restaurant pays homage to Curtis’ first culinary mentor whose sensibilities are resonant throughout the restaurant experience.

For the first four years, the menu at Maude was a set ten-course chef’s tasting menu created around one seasonal ingredient each month and creatively woven, to varying degrees, through each course. Some courses calling for the hero ingredient to be at the centre of the plate, whilst at other times playing a supporting role.

In January 2018, Maude debuted a new muse: drawing inspiration from the great wine regions of the world. Changing four times a year, tasting menus are inspired by the hero region, and for each forthcoming menu the team travels to the region of focus to become immersed in the terroir, food, wine, and culture of each destination. The team has travelled to Rioja, Burgundy, Piedmont, and more recently, Western Australia to draw inspiration for the degustation.

The Michelin ceremony was in Huntington Beach and live-streamed on Michelin’s Facebook page. Stone received the news in Australia.

“The Michelin Guide coming to LA to do a California state-wide guide is so exciting,“ says Stone. “I spent my early years cooking in Europe in Michelin-starred restaurants and the guide was always a barometer of where we were at. To be awarded a Michelin star feels a little like a life’s work all come together in one day. When you work in a kitchen you work with a team of people, you work really hard, you treat each other like family, you become an integral part of a team and you rely on each other. To be awarded the biggest honour in the business is actually a really selfless thing, because the star’s not for you it’s for everyone who works in the restaurant.”

“We’ve achieved it as a team. I’m super proud of everyone who works there right now, and people who have worked there over the last 12 months, they’ve all helped us get to where we wanted to get to and we’re really proud of where we are. We don’t want to stop. It’s made us really hungry to get a second star and keep pushing our boundaries, honing in on our detail and creating an incredible guest experience. Every time you feel like you’ve achieved something you want to set bigger goals, so that’s where we are as a team right now. All the texts between us as it was happening was like, ‘I can’t believe it, let’s go, let’s do more!’ It’s an exciting moment for us, because while we’re super happy with what we’ve just achieved and want to celebrate, we all can’t wait to get back in the kitchen and do even better.”

Visit or follow on social media @mauderestaurant

Source: Maude Restaurant

25cm of Fresh Snow: Thredbo is opening this long weekend

This is the best start to winter in 20 years! We’ve received over 25cm’s of fresh snow and there’s still more to come! Taking the total to 85cm’s since last Monday…

Thredbo is opening for skiing and snowboarding this weekend with Friday Flat and Cruiser plus potentially more terrain opening pending snowmaking later this week.

Aussie electronic duo Bag Raiders are headlining a free concert in the Village Square on Saturday with Mickey Kojak, Purple Sneakers and Close Encounters. Get ready for 5 hours of non-stop tunes and party vibes – including Bag Raiders’ new single “Lightning” and old favourite “Shooting Stars”. Ending the night with a bang, we’ve got the region’s biggest fireworks display!

The king of carving, Kenji Ogawa fires up chisel and chainsaw to create an ice sculpture that becomes the centrepiece of the popular Mumm Long Lunch.

There’s plenty to excite the kids. Look out for the roving magician, alongside a big program of things to do including a village wide treasure hunt, face painting and art sessions.

With this incredible line-up, there’s no excuse not to stay for the entire long weekend!

Source: Thredbo