There’s more to a film festival than the films, even when there’s over 230 to choose from. The key to a successful film festival is celebrating film, discussing film, and sometimes getting down on the dance floor after a film. At Sydney Film festival, that’s all taking place at The Hub, which runs for the duration of this year’s festival from Wednesday June 7 to Sunday June 18.

“The Hub is literally the hub for the Sydney Film Festival,” says Lisa Kitching, the festival’s guest and industry manager, who also runs the talk sessions at The Hub. “It’s the meeting place.”

Located at Sydney Town Hall at a point that is (she assures us) equidistant between the busy Events Cinema and the 2000-seat State Theatre, The Hub is open nightly (and during the day on a few dates) for those looking to grab a bite or a drink between sessions. There’s a happy hour between 4.30pm and 6.00pm on weeknights, product sampling and Brix Rum cocktail masterclasses throughout the festival, alongside an exhibition celebrating 70 years of the SFF.

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“The Hub is where we run all our talks,” says Kitching. “It’s where the filmmakers often have their parties after their screenings. It’s where some of our bigger films have their parties. And it’s a place to come and hear some of the filmmakers talk about their films.”

Many of the sessions at the SFF feature filmmaker introductions or Q&As, but The Hub is where the more in-depth conversations take place.

“Each year we pick some of the bigger films where maybe the content is uniquely interesting [and] bring them to The Hub to have a good hour discussion.”

This year, Kim Jee-Woon will be appearing after a showing of his film Cobweb, while author Bruce Pascoe will be discussing his work after the presentation of The Dark Emu Story. There’ll also be a meet the filmmakers session with Rachel Ward after the premiere of her film Rachel’s Farm, and straight from Cannes is Warwick Thornton, who’ll be discussing his latest film The New Boy starring Cate Blanchett – also the festival’s opening night film.

The Hub is also home to a number of panel discussions, including the launch of Sustainable Screens Australia; and the Voices From Europe panel, which features five female filmmakers from different countries.

While some films provoke discussion, others might require a more physical reaction. If you’re in the mood to show your appreciation for a cinematic classic via the dance floor, The Hub is the place to go.

The new restoration of the John Waters classic Hairspray is the inspiration for a ’60s-themed party featuring a dance-off, a photobooth, and drinks on arrival. “What we look for is a good excuse for a party,” says Kitching, “and I think Hairspray is a particularly good excuse.”

Following the Australian premiere screening of Late Night With the Devil as part of the Freak Me Out program, The Hub is hosting Late Night Party With the Devil, celebrating the documentary-style horror film that features a ’70s talk show that goes demonically wrong.

There’s also a number of free celebrations at The Hub. The Australian debut of Red White and Brass will be followed by a riotous party. “It’s just one of those films where you just really feel good afterwards and you want to carry that momentum over to a few drinks, so we’ve got the perfect place for that,” says Kitching.

There’s also a celebration of Korean film with Korean Cinema Celebration: Geonbae!, complete with soju, makgeolli and K-pop. “We’ve got the filmmakers from A Wild Roomer and Cobweb in town, so they’ll be at the event as well,” says Kitching. “It’s free, it celebrates Korean culture and I’m very much looking forward to it.”

And if you’re looking for a venue to test (or show off) your film knowledge, The Hub is also the home of the festival’s always popular Trivia Night. “Those nights are really fun,” says Kitching. “I think if you can win film trivia at a film festival night, you’re doing pretty well.”

The Hub is open from Wednesday June 7 to Sunday June 18, with varying opening hours. See more information and plan your visit.

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