Paul Byrnes is an award-winning film critic, journalist and film programmer, based in Australia and France.
He has been film critic for The Sydney Morning Herald for a total of 25 years. His reviews now appear across all Fairfax Media outlets – including The Age, Melbourne and The Canberra Times.
In 2016, he celebrated 40 years in journalism. Postings have included two years as the Herald’s correspondent in Papua New Guinea, one year covering state politics and four years as a senior feature writer. He has covered assignments in India, Laos, the South Pacific, Germany, USA, Zimbabwe, Kenya and the UK. He began reviewing films full-time for The Sydney Morning Herald in 1985. He writes travel for various publications.
He was director of the Sydney Film Festival for ten years, from 1989 to 1998, during which the festival doubled in size, both in program and audience numbers. 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.
He has programmed successful seasons of Australian films 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 2002/03, he wrote and directed (with 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. From 2008-2013, he was curator of feature films for Australian screen online – a new government-backed website for schools about Australian cinema. He has a special interest in the Australian documentary films of World War One.
He lives half the year in Australia, half in France.