The Gold Coast is undergoing something of a cultural renaissance, or perhaps it’s more of an emergence, with innovative events mushrooming on the site of what was known as a mega tourist destination. It’s an exciting place to be and ahead of the 2018 Gold Coast Film Festival – GCFF – we spoke with Lisa Fisher, the festival director.
What was the vision for the Gold Coast Film Festival?
Our vision is to bring film to life in a distinctly Gold Coast way for locals and visitors.
Tell me about how you are partnering with our Byron Bay Film Festival?
We’ve partnered with the BBFF to present the Virtual Reality film program for the first time. They are national leaders in this area and we can’t think of anyone better to curate our first virtual reality selection. We have Australian premieres of some of the best, most cutting-edge VR and 360° content direct from SXSW and Sundance. It will definitely be worth the trip from Byron on 28–29 April.
What are some of the film highlights in your opinion?
Our program director, Rich Haridy, has done a brilliant job and it’s hard to pick a highlight.
I’m interested in Anime in the Mall. Why did you decide to screen anime in an outdoor cinema?
Anime in the Mall is part of our partnership with Supanova and Broadbeach Alliance as part of Superhero Weekend. We think anime is a great fit with the Supanova fans, who will be in the area.
What about the horror films? I haven’t seen this category in a film festival before?
We’ve got QLD Screamfest, a selection of short horror films, plus Cargo, a horror starring Martin Freeman. There’s definitely an audience for horror at film festivals; there are a lot of genre or ‘fantastic’ festivals doing it really well.
What are the hot topics for the Women in Film Luncheon?
I think Jenny Cooney will give an incredible insider insight into the Hollywood system, Australian talent in Hollywood and also entertainment journalism. I certainly think the #metoo movement will be covered too.
We have been very strong on gender equality initiatives for the past three years. We rate films by the Bechdel test and commit to an equal number of men and women speakers across the festival. We were also the first film festival in Australia to offer free childcare for selected industry sessions.
What are the premieres you have in store?
The Second, our opening night film, is an Australian premiere; Breath is a Queensland premiere. Our closing night film Brothers Nest is an Australian premiere after its world premiere in SXSW. We also have the world premiere of an independent film, The Pretend One. And quite a few more!
What are the challenges programming a festival like this and making sure a varied demographic is targeted across the coast?
We have 11 locations across the Gold Coast because we recognise that as a linear city people don’t tend to travel too far for film screenings. The films we program hit a very broad demographic, so for cinefiles or regular arthouse cinema audiences there are some challenging festival-circuit films and for an occasional cinema audience there are some more mainstream films. I hope that we’re taking our audience on a journey and they’re beginning to trust our curation and enjoying the films we bring. It’s also a privilege to identify Australian independent films and find audiences for films that are not getting a cinema release any more with the changing distribution landscape.
What are you most looking forward to?
SIPFEST is an awesome night of free short films on the beach. It’s pretty special to see filmmakers rewarded with some great cash prizes that will help them keep creating.
The l6th GCFF runs 13 days from Tuesday until Sunday 29 April. Most events at HOTA and at participating cinemas and outdoor locations. For more info go to gcfilmfestival.com.