Tonight I'm looking forward to Sydney's other red v blue grudge match

Tonight’s the night. I know, like me, many of you will have been looking forward to this evening for a while now. Anticipating the drama, getting dressed for the occasion, maybe raising a glass or two.

Yes it’s the showdown between two great rivalries again: blue versus red. Not the maroons. I’m not talking about that annual grudge match between NSW and Queensland, the first State of Origin for 2018, but the clash between followers of the blues and the fans of the red carpet.

Tonight marks the opening night of the Sydney Film Festival, in its 65th year, versus Origin, in its 36th year.

From left: Queensland State of Origin captain Greg Inglis, Queensland coach Kevin Walters, NSW coach Brad Fittler and NSW captain Boyd Cordner.

From left: Queensland State of Origin captain Greg Inglis, Queensland coach Kevin Walters, NSW coach Brad Fittler and NSW captain Boyd Cordner.

It’s happened before – this clash when the feast of film comes up against the rugby league showpiece on the same Wednesday night in June. But this year instead of a pistols-at-dawn-style culture war in Sydney, the NRL has decided this city isn’t big enough for both lovers of football and film, and headed south to Melbourne – also not for the first time.

But is rugby league big enough for Melbourne? Not just the 100,000 seat Melbourne Cricket Ground; outside of Melbourne Storm fans, who will care down there?

Will AFL fans be converted to the game faster than you can spell Tom and Jake Trbojevic?  Or will the stands be filled only with  NSW and Queensland fans who will loyally fly south like migrating birds leaving those of us attending the film festival to paint the town red, ripping down fences and burning them like celebrating Eels supporters at Cumberland Oval in 1981? (Watch out Melbourne – win or lose hide your scoreboard and fenceposts.)

With the blues tragics absent, film goers at the State Theatre will claim opening night as the big ticket in town tonight, and Sydney can put celluloid in the spotlight, rather than turn on the sportsground floodlights.

Jacki Weaver and Kate Fitzpatrick at an anniversary celebration for the Sydney Film festival at the State Theatre in 1974.

Jacki Weaver and Kate Fitzpatrick at an anniversary celebration for the Sydney Film festival at the State Theatre in 1974.

And for those who miss the live footy tonight there's always June 22. That other State Of Origin league game at North Sydney Oval – the women's. At least NSW are the winners in that comp.

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