• Stepping Out

Roll out the red carpet as the Gold Coast Film Festival comes to town


Three world, 10 Australian and four Queensland premieres, 107 films, 13 locations, 12 days and one incredible celebration of all things cinematic – such are the numbers behind the 2019 Gold Coast Film Festival.

The event, which officially has officially launched its full program of 178 films and events, has earned a reputation for offering something for everyone and the 2019 instalment is no different with a plethora of additions aimed at fostering a love for film in people of all ages.

From a unique array of outdoor pop-up cinemas to Q&As with various filmmakers, organisers have assembled an innovative program centred on adding to the audience’s cinema experience.

Now in its 17th year and running from April 3-14, the festival will explode to life when award-winning filmmaker Damon Gameau (That Sugar Film) walks the red carpet at HOTA, Home of the Arts for the Australian premiere of 2040, his inspiring exploration of solutions for the planet’s modern-day problems.

The screening, which will be followed by a Q&A, will be the first of more than a dozen premieres across the 12 days, including the Closing Night world premiere of Australian war film Escape and Evasion to be held at HOTA on Sunday, 14 April.

Directed by Storm Ashwood and filmed in the Gold Coast’s luscious Currumbin Valley, it explores the troubling effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) on a lone surviving soldier.

“The Queensland Government through Screen Queensland and Tourism and Events Queensland, is proud to be a major supporter of the Gold Coast Film Festival,” said Assistant Minister for Tourism Industry Development Meaghan Scanlon.

“It was only 12 months ago that the feature film Escape and Evasion supported by the Palaszczuk Government was shooting on the Gold Coast and this year it makes its world premiere at the Festival.

“I am thrilled to announce that Loveland, the latest feature film from Brisbane-based Ivan Sen and Bunya Productions, the same creative team behind Mystery Road and Goldstone, is also currently filming on the Coast. Greer Simpkin of Bunya will be the special guest of the annual Screen Queensland Women in Film Lunch.

“With Godzilla vs. Kong and TV series Reef Break in production whilst the curtains rise on the Gold Coast Film Festival, the spotlight is well and truly on the Gold Coast attracting visitors, boosting the economy and supporting local jobs.”

The film industry will also come together for the inaugural Screen Industry Gala Awards, which will include the awarding of the Chauvel Award for an individual’s significant contribution to the Australian screen industry to film icon Sigrid Thornton.

With a career spanning both the big and small screens in Australia, Thornton is best known for her roles in some of the classics of Australian cinema including box-office hits The Man From Snowy River and The Lighthorsemen and memorable TV roles in Sea Change, All The Rivers Run, Paradise/Guns of Paradise and more recently Wentworth.

Sigrid is currently Executive Producer and lead actor on a series reboot of the much-loved Australian drama, Sea Change, which is now in pre-production.

The icon of the Australia screen and stage will attend the inaugural Screen Industry Gala Dinner and treat guests to an ‘in-conversation’ with Hollywood journalist Jenny Cooney.

Gold Coast Film Festival Director Lucy Fisher said the quality of the films to screen during the event was only surpassed by the wide variety of experiences on offer.

“I’m a firm believer that the best film festivals offer the public so much more than just the chance to watch movies and we have once again raised the bar on that front,” she said.

“From unique pop-up cinemas on the water, in the bush and on urban streets to daily workshops for children and wine and cheese events, our massive program of events and screenings allows people to immerse themselves in film and have a little fun along the way.

“Given the festival will be held in the Queensland school holidays, we’ve even expanded our free creche to open on three days instead of the previous two to ensure parents can enjoy the event with and without their kids.

“With record numbers of films from both Gold Coast and Australian filmmakers and films from more than a dozen countries to be screened, we are proud of the platform we are providing local, national and international filmmakers to be seen and rewarded with deserving accolades.”

Among many highlights, the festival will hold a gala screening of the much-anticipated Top End Wedding from director Wayne Blair (The Sapphires) and writer-producer-star Miranda Tapsell on Friday 12 April.

Another world premiere will be the eagerly awaited screening of stylish noir film Locusts, a thriller from Gold Coast writer/producer and radiologist Dr Angus Watts and director Heath Davis, featuring an ensemble of Australian character actors including Ben Geurens and Jessica McNamee.

In a festival first, the event will also host children’s events every day including acting, filmmaking and photography workshops, a dedicated schools program and free outdoor movies across the city.

Families are also expected to flock to ‘Blind Cinema’, the ground-breaking live event where children use hushed voices to describe a film that only they can see to blindfolded adults.

Another sensation is sure to be ‘Virtual Reality’, a partnership with Byron Bay Film Festival that allows audiences to strap on a headset and be taken into the world of VR.

Audiences can travel from deep inside the mind of a coma patient in Lucid, outer space in Space Dream and the London of 1916 in The Unknown Patient to journeying with the first woman shaman of an Amazonian tribe in Awavena, who, along with her fellow tribespeople, is using VR to share their story and shift our consciousness.

Other new highlights include pop-up outdoor cinemas in some of the Gold Coast’s most picturesque locations and the Laneway Cinema in Chinatown screening Jackie Chan classics Karate Kid and Drunken Master.

The festival will also provide filmmakers, actors and film students with a wide range of professional development opportunities, including 25 industry panels and in-depth workshops on pitching, screenwriting and editing.

Screen Queensland (SQ) CEO Tracey Vieira said SQ was proud to support a festival playing such a vital role in promoting the talents of the state’s filmmakers.

“The festival program is packed with content that was conceived and created in Queensland by Queenslanders,” Ms Vieira said.

“From the world premiere of Escape and Evasion and Australian premiere of Elements to the screening of 35 short films and web series across sections including SCREAM, EMERGE, SIPFEST and B.OLD, we are excited Queensland filmmakers have the GCFF to showcase their stories here in the State.”

City of Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate said the film industry was so active on the coast, he was thinking about ordering new red carpet.

“We’ve worn out our red carpet with world premieres, major television series and locally-grown productions. It’s probably best to order gold carpet as the Gold Coast is the place to be when it comes to the film industry.’’

With events from Coomera to Coolangatta, there are more opportunities for locals and visitors to not only experience the festival but also promote the Gold Coast as a filmmaking destination with a diverse range of iconic locations.

The festival will see events hosted at the city’s newest cinema in Coomera, taking the excitement of filmmaking to the growing northern Gold Coast corridor, along with events at the Helensvale Culture Centre and libraries across the city.

In the spirit of giving back to the local community, the festival is embarking on a Pay It Forward ticket initiative at this year’s festival in conjunction with Gold Coast Hospital Foundation. The public will be able to purchase tickets and ‘pay it forward’ to someone in need, with the Gold Coast Hospital Foundation delivering tickets to cancer patients, volunteer patient drives and nurses.

The Gold Coast Film Festival is supported by the Queensland Government through Screen Queensland and Tourism and Events Queensland. The Gold Coast Film Festival is supported by the City of Gold Coast.

For tickets and more information, visit www.gcfilmfestival.com.