Opening Night Gala 2017 - We Don't Need a Map

Experience the 2017 Sydney Film Festival Opening Night Gala, presented by Lexus Australia. You can now purchase tickets to walk the red carpet and rub shoulders with the stars inside the majestic State Theatre, and attend the exclusive party in Sydney Town Hall's stunning Centennial Hall.

We Don't Need a Map

Filmmaker Warwick Thornton investigates our relationship to the Southern Cross, in this fun and thought provoking ride through Australia's cultural and political landscape.

In 2009, Warwick Thornton's Samson and Delilah won the Camera d'Or at Cannes and he was nominated for Australian of the Year. When asked at a press conference what his main concern would be if he received Australia's highest honour, he replied, "that the Southern Cross is becoming the new Swastika". Seven years later, Thornton takes us on a journey through this five-star constellation's astronomical, colonial and Indigenous history to the present day. For Aboriginal people the meaning of this heavenly body is deeply spiritual, a connection vividly expressed in stories from North East Arnhem Land, Katherine and the Central Desert. By contrast, the star-adorned Eureka Flag was emblematic of protest and defiance from its first appearance, a quality that caused it to be adopted by activists, and lately, the darker side of Australian nationalism. Produced by Brendan Fletcher (Mad Bastards) and shot by Thornton and his filmmaker son, Dylan River, this poetic essay-film features interviews with tattooists, rappers, astronomers... and bush puppets. We Don't Need a Map doesn't shy away from the tough questions about the place of the Southern Cross in the Australian psyche, but Thornton's cavalier spirit and inventive filmmaking skilfully balances the provocative and the pleasurable.

Festival guests: Warwick Thornton, Brendan Fletcher


Join us for the Party
A strictly limited number of tickets for the Opening Night Gala including the after party at the stunning Centennial Hall are available in the Opening Film Night + Party package. Here’s your chance to rub shoulders with SFF’s international and Australian guests and film industry personalities, sip cocktails and sample canapés in the heart of the city at Sydney’s premier film event. Ticketholders will gather under the imposing 25-metre wide grand organ of this amazing venue that’s over 115 years old and can indulge in a glass of Eden Road Wines, a bottle of 4 Pines beer or a cocktail with BLOOM Gin.

Opening Night 2017 is proudly presented by Lexus Australia


Warwick Thornton


English and Warlpiri, Wardaman, Dhuwala, Dhuwaya with English subtitles

World Premiere



Warwick Thornton, Brendan Fletcher

Brendan Fletcher

Warwick Thornton, Dylan River, Drew English

Andrea Lang

World Premieres, Official Competition, Environmental, Politics & Economics, Indigenous & First Nations, Screen:Black

Production Company: Barefoot Communications