This year’s Gold Coast Film Festival (GCFF) is, in the words of Program Manager Sasha Close, all about bringing films to life.
“We invite film lovers to escape to a world of film in a programme packed with more than 100 films, and pop-up cinemas in unique locations,” Sasha says. “Industry panels, red carpet events…”
“This year we’re hosting several films and events online, which is an exciting move in the world we’re living in.”
The programme in question – packed with international and national films, as well as local film premieres – is set to be one of the event’s biggest in its 19-year history. Four of the premieres featured this year are all Australian content. “Two of them are Queensland-based,” Sasha begins. “One, a film, and the second the first three episodes of an upcoming series called 'Dive Club'.
“The world premiere of 'Rhapsody Of Love', a gorgeous Asian-Australian rom-com which I’m so glad we got to include. My one indulgence is romantic comedies!”
As well as the world premieres, the GCFF have secured a great range of titles for their Australian premieres. “One is 'Luxor', another is 'Beans', a Canadian film about an Indigenous girl growing up during a land rights moment – really powerful.”
“There’s a great house film, the longest title ever, called 'Preparations To Be Together For An Unknown Period Of Time', which is a really haunting film-noir with just a super stand-out performance by the lead actress.”
Perhaps most appealingly in this year’s GCFF programme is the huge segment dedicated to families and young children. 'Dumbo', 'How To Train Your Dragon', 'Up', 'Aladdin' and more – it’s the GCFF mantra, Sasha says, to make the event as accessible to as many people as possible and, in a sense, hopefully inspire the next generation of filmmakers. “There’s certainly an awareness that cinema-going happens at every age. As a parent, I’m acutely aware of that as well, that if you can engage a young child in a family setting with a family-friendly film and experience that storytelling on the big screen, then that movie-going and cinema-loving experience starts.”
“We consciously do programme for not only a range of age groups but also a diversity of tastes, as well. That’s kind of where we want to position ourselves.”
Off the back of having to shutter last year’s programme, Sasha and her fellow organisers are excited to welcome people back to cinemas, to experience what it’s like to see film on the big screen. “Anecdotally and from what I’ve seen, people are really willing to come back to the cinema and enjoy that shared experience of being in a cinema again – be surrounded by other film fans, enjoy the popcorn.”
“I really hope that with this festival people buy a ticket to something they wouldn’t normally want to see and to take a chance – often that’s what film festivals are about, taking a chance to see something on the big screen and enjoy it with others.
“There are three films in a feel-good strand that are diverse within themselves, one from Israel, another a charming whimsical French film – that might be the chance people take if they don’t want to head down the arthouse avenues.
“There’s definitely something there for everyone and I would definitely encourage people to buy a ticket to something you want to see, then buy a ticket to something that broadens your horizons.”
Gold Coast Film Festival 2021 is on from 14-25 April.