Paul Byrnes


Paul Byrnes is an award-winning film critic, journalist and film programmer.

He has been a film critic for The Sydney Morning Herald for more than 25 years. He joined the newspaper in 1976 and spent a decade in general reporting, before specialising in film. Postings included two years as the Herald's correspondent in Papua New Guinea, one year covering NSW state politics and four years as a senior feature writer, for The Good Weekend. Positions held at the paper include: arts editor, features editor, foreign editor, and chief of staff for the 1984 election campaign. He has covered assignments in India, Laos, the South Pacific, Germany, USA and the UK. He began reviewing films full-time for The Sydney Morning Herald in 1985.

 In 1989, he left the paper to become director of the Sydney Film Festival. He occupied this post for 10 years, during which the festival doubled in size, both in program and audience numbers. For his efforts in promoting documentary in the festival, he was given honorary membership of the Australian Screen Directors Association in 1998. He is also an Honorary Life Member of the Sydney Film Festival. His reviews have appeared weekly in the SMH for the past 15 years, and in The Age and The Canberra Times since 2014. His articles on film have appeared in various Australian and international publications. He also writes for travel publications.

In September 2007, he was awarded the Geraldine Pascall prize for critical writing, the highest award in the Australian media for critics in any genre.

Since 1999, he has programmed the screenings for the 1999 Australian Documentary Conference in Adelaide, taught short courses in film in the adult education program at Sydney University and programmed successful seasons of Australian film in New York and Berlin for the Australian Film Commission. In 2001/02, he was a specialist consultant to the National Museum of Australia on their audio visual displays in the year before the Museum opened.

In 2002/03, he produced, wrote and directed (with producer/director Penny McDonald) Film Australia’s Immigration, a survey of the politics and propaganda of more than 100 immigration films made in Australia since 1945. This DVD won a Focal International award in May, 2005, for best use of archive footage in a digital medium. The award was presented in London by Lord David Puttnam. The DVD also won a 2005 ATOM (Australian Teachers of Media) award for best multi-media production.

From 2005-2013, Paul was Curator of Feature Films for Australian Screen Online, a website launched in July 2007. The website is funded by the federal government through the National Film and Sound Archive. During that time he researchedand wrote a series of long essays on the history of Australia’s first documentaries from World War One. The Great war remains his primary area of research and historical interest. Projects in 2017 include a short accessible monograph for the Department of Veterans Affairs on the Australian sites on the western front.

Paul’s non fiction book “The Lost Boys of Anzac” will be published by Affirm Press in mid 2019.

Please direct all enquiries for Paul Byrnes via Jeanne Ryckmans: