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Lucy Fisher on this year's Gold Coast Film Festival

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Lucy Fisher on this year's Gold Coast Film Festival

The Gold Coast Film Festival is now in its 18th year. From humble beginnings in 2002, it’s grown to be a hugely successful and much anticipated event and on the Gold Coast’s calendar.

Now located at HOTA, GCFF Director Lucy Fisher is delighted to have a year-round base and to be connected to everything that happens here.

At the helm for the last 5 years, Lucy has taken the festival from strength to strength. In the last four years alone funding, sponsorship and tickets sales have tripled.

Curating a film festival is an art form in itself, some festivals choose to start with an idea or a theme or to respond to a current trend or genre. Bigger film festivals can program to a particular theme or an idea, but we’re not at that stage just yet where we can restrict our choices by that thematic kind of programming. Having said that, our program is divided into strands that capture different ideas and categories of films,’ said Lucy.

‘This year there’s a really strong focus on music in films. I find that themes develop as the programming progresses. It can’t be too fixed as it often also depends on what films are available at that time.’

The curation of this year’s feature films has been driven by Program Manager, Sasha Close.

‘Sasha’s has an incredible background, she’s been programming for a chain of independent cinemas for more than 16 years and she’s found some real gems for us this year,’ said Lucy.

This year’s program is packed with amazing films, events and documentaries. We put Lucy on the spot and asked her what she was most excited about this year.

‘The world premiere of Slim is a really amazing event to bring to the Gold Coast. Having a director of the calibre of Kriv Stenders here is really exciting. It’s also produced by Chris Brown who lives locally and has such a long and incredible film history including producing huge films like Railway Man with Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman.

'But we also have Joy McKean attending, she’s Slim Dusty’s wife and a songwriter in her own right, and we can’t wait to welcome her to walk the red carpet at HOTA at this world premiere of a film about her life. I think that’s really special.’

‘I’m also excited that we’ve taken a foray into TV for the first time with the first two episodes of season two of Mystery Road. And it’s also great to welcome back producer Greer Simpkin, who was the speaker at our Women in Film lunch last year who is just doing incredible things. And Wayne Blair and Warwick Thornton the episodes’ directors are all coming for a Q&A too which is really exciting,’ said Lucy.

We think one of the best things about the Gold Coast Film Festival is the way it brings films to life in a uniquely Gold Coast way.

‘We have more waterways than Venice so that’s how our floating cinema was born. It’s a lot of fun to create great experiences using the best things about the Gold Coast. We’ve got Clueless on the roof top, set against the city lights at a pop-up rooftop cinema at Australia Fair, and then pool side at QT we have On Wednesdays We Wear Pink – a special screening of the classic Mean Girls.’

‘Film Festivals around the world are really great about putting on experiences around the films like food, wine and conversation but we take it to the next level with large scale outdoor events based around locations. Film Festivals don’t usually do that so the way we merge these trends and play in these two spaces make us unique.’

The GCFF is also getting known for its high-quality events for kids.

‘It’s really important to create critical media consumers and look at how we are teaching kids basic skills around film making. They’ve all got phones they already have the capacity to use the tools, but it’s about how can you create and share stories and help to improve their media literacy.’

‘Other highlights of the program include the opening night of I am Woman, it’s wonderful and I think it’s going to be one of the biggest Australian films of the year. The screen writer Emma Jensen lives in Kingscliff and she’s being involved with the festival for years now on panels and speaking opportunities, so to have the opportunity to screen one of her films on opening night is really special. ’‘To have films that showcase a connection with the Gold Coast is also really exciting. Our closing night film is Bloody Hell, a genre film that was shot entirely on the Gold Coast.’

‘We’ve also got a huge variety of world cinema in the program that have been doing the rounds of the film festivals and have been highly reviewed. It’s a great opportunity to see films that won’t come out in the cinemas afterwards.’

Lucy’s passion lies with Australian films and she’s delighted to have so many great Australian films in the program this year. One she’s particularly excited about is Morgana.

‘It’s a documentary about a Melbourne housewife who got to the age of 50 and decided to reinvent herself. She went through a divorce and became a sex positive porn star. It’s a really interesting documentary and we’ll be hosting a conversation about female sexuality after the screening. ’‘And the other Australian film I am really excited about is Ellie and Abbie which I think will be one of the standout Australian indie films of the year. It just opened the Sydney Mardi Gras Film Festival - the first time an Australian film has had this honour. Director Monica Zanetti and the two lead actors Zoe Terakes and Sophie Hawkshaw are coming up for the screening.


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HOTA proudly acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we are situated, the Kombumerri families of the Yugambeh Language Region. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging, and recognise their continuing connections to the lands, waters and their extended communities throughout South East Queensland.

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