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Nicole Kidman with Jenny Cooney

Gold Coast Film Festival puts women first

Samantha Morris | March 2019

Gold Coast Film Festival is one of the highlights in Queensland’s screen industry’s calendar of events.

With Lucy Fisher at the helm, the festival not only puts women front and centre on the screen and across its interactive panels and industry events, it also provides a creche service on the days when emerging women in film might need the most support with their families.

The women included in the program for this year’s Gold Coast Film Festival are, quite simply, incredible. They’re making huge contributions to the global screen industry and festival attendees will have the opportunity to rub shoulders, gain insights, hear them speak and join them to walk the red carpet at a number of ticketed events.

Here are just some of the visitors to this year’s Gold Coast Film Festival, running 3 – 14 April across the city.

Greer Simpkin

Greer Simpkin will be the special guest speaker at Gold Coast Film Festival’s insanely popular Women in Film Lunch. She’s spent many years working in editorial and production roles in broadcasting — ABC (Australia) and Channel 4 (UK) before joining Bunya Productions as Producer and Head of Television. In just the past four years, Greer has produced the television drama series Mystery Road and the award-winning feature films Sweet Country and Goldstone, as well as being an Executive Producer on the feature film Jasper Jones. This event sells out every year, so if you want to attend, you’d better hustle.

Jenny Cooney

Entertainment Journalist, Jenny Conney, has travelled the world interviewing and working alongside some of the biggest names in Hollywood so it’s quite a coup for the Gold Coast that she’s an ambassador for the Gold Coast Film Festival and this year, she’s also jumped on board to host the prestigious Chauvel Award ceremony. Whether it is walking the streets of New York with Woody Allen, watching Daniel Craig as James Bond on the Mexican set of Spectre, singing with Hugh Jackman, or interviewing her screen idols Paul Newman and Robert Redford, there’s no question, Jenny has done it all. She was the recipient of the International Media Award from the American Publicist Guild in 2005, and became a member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, covering film and television for some of the world’s most prestigious publications.

Jenny Cooney hosts Gold Coast Film Festival’s Screen industry gala awards at Movieworld on Thursday 4 April. Tickets are on sale now.

Sigrid Thornton

Sigrid Thornton has been a key player in an unusually diverse range of formats and genres, her career highlights spanning across screen, television, and stage and she’ll attend the Gold Coast Film Festival this year to receive the Chauvel Award.

On the screen Sigrid’s credits include, George Miller’s classic box office hit The Man from Snowy River and The Light horse man directed by Simon Wincer. On television, Sigrid took part the Australian landmark series Seachange (ABC TV), Wentworth (Foxtel), and The Boy in the Bush (Channel 4 UK) opposite Kenneth Brannagh. Finally, in 2015-16 Sigrid joined Anthony Warlow on stage in Fiddler on the Roof after her 2014 stage appearance as Blanche Du Bois in Black Swan’s production of A Streetcar named Desire broke all records for the company with an extended sell-out season accompanied by rave reviews.

Sigrid has presented as MC for luminaries including Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama, and the Centenary of Federation joint sittings of the Australian Parliament. Sigrid has worked extensively behind the camera, and on behalf of the Australian film and television industry, the arts and various charities such as; World Vision, Reach Foundation and Vision Australia. Sigrid has made a phenomenal contribution to the Australian Film Industry both behind and in-front of the camera.

Gold Coast Film Festival’s Screen Industry Gala, where Sigrid Thornton will accept her Chauvel Award, takes place Thursday 4 April at Movieworld. A shuttle bus is available from QT and tickets are on sale now.

Imogen Thomas

Imogen Thomas was born in Wellington, Australia. She graduated with a Masters of Fine Arts from the NYU Tisch School of Arts in 2008. Her short films include Quiet Hour (01) and Mixed Bag (08), while her debut film Emu Runner is her first feature film. Emu Runner blends social realism with touches of lyricism, Imogen Thomas’ engaging debut feature Emu Runner, which screens at the 2019 Gold Coast Film Festival, follows a nine-year-old girl growing up in the isolated community of Brewarrina, Australia. Imogen’s feature film debut was 15 years in the making.

Emu Runner screens Sunday 7 April at HOTA, Saturday 13 April at Event Cinemas Coomera and Sunday 14 April at BCC Coolangatta.

Caitlin Farrugia

Melbourne based filmmaker, Caitlin Farrugia is passionate about feminism, human rights, child wellbeing, and education and her films often reflect upon ideas of human connection. Caitlin’s feature film Lazybones was nominated for Best Independent Australian Feature Film, at the Gold Coast Film Festival in 2017, and the short documentary Adrift (St Kilda Film Festival: Winner – Audience Choice Award). Her directorial debut So Long premiered at the Melbourne Queer Film Festival in 2018. Caitlin has since completed another feature Maybe Tomorrow, which follows the challenges of combining filmmaking and parenthood. Maybe Tomorrow screens at the Gold Coast Film Festival and is her second indie film to be selected for the event.

Maybe Tomorrow screens Friday 5 April, 6.30pm at HOTA and the filmmakers will be in conversation Q+A style after the screening.

Angel Dixon

Angel Dixon is an activist and model who works on passion projects in the area of universal design and disability inclusion. Angel is a two-time international Mercedes Benz Fashion Week model and in 2017 became the first adult disabled model to be featured in a national television commercial in Australia. Angel challenges Australians’ perceptions of disability. She is a passionate activist for disability inclusion. She is a blogger, speaker, advocacy manager for not-for-profit Starting With Julius, CEO of the Attitude Foundation and designer of an upcoming range of walking canes. For her efforts, Angel was named as Queensland’s Young Australian of the Year in 2019. Angel, who lives on the Gold Coast, will be speaking at the Women In Film and Television (WIFT) panel on accessibility at this year’s Gold Coast Film Festival. The panel is a WIFT Guild event and runs Friday 5 April from 4.00pm with networking and drinks afterwards.

Aimee Lindorff + Maria Lewis

Aimée Lindorff is a cultural producer, researcher, writer, and editor based in Brisbane. She is Production Coordinator at WildBear Entertainment, co-host of the podcast LadyParts: girls on (genre) film, and fiction reviewer for Aurealis Magazine. She has a long history of consultation and development for community arts, industrial organisations, and state and national cultural producers; she is passionate about representation, access, innovation, and development of Australian stories.

Maria Lewis is an author, journalist, and screenwriter based in Sydney, Australia. Getting her start as a police reporter, her writing on pop culture has appeared in publications such as the New York Post, Guardian, Penthouse, The Daily Mail, Empire Magazine, Gizmodo, Huffington Post, The Daily and Sunday Telegraph. Previously seen as a presenter on SBS Viceland’s nightly news program The Feed and as the host of Cleverfan on ABC, she has been a journalist for over 13 years.

Aimee and Maria are joining forces to provide live feminist commentary on cult classic Scream at this year’s Festival. The screening takes place Tuesday 9 April, 7.00pm at HOTA.

J’aimee Skippon-Volke

J’aimee Skippon-Volke, Director of the Byron Bay International Film Festival, has a growing reputation for cutting-edge curation and developing rich and diverse programmes of entertaining, inspiring, and thought-provoking films and film events. J’aimee’s passion for cinema extends to enhancing people’s worldview and collective social dialogue through the power and storytelling of the film.

J’aimee worked in the UK’s TV industry and after a stint in the USA, decided to ‘give Australia a go’. Always precocious she entered motherhood in her early 20s and later moved to Byron Bay to raise her family in a cleaner and greener environment. The best is yet to come – as virtual and augmented reality emerge into mainstream consciousness J’aimee is excited about the possibilities, and she’s bringing a taste of those possibilities to this year’s event through the Gold Coast Film Festival’s virtual reality program which runs Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 April with hourly sessions from 10.00am – 6.00pm at HOTA. This program sold out last year, so if you want to get your VR on, you’d better be quick.

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