The Queensland Film Festival has been announced today, a new Brisbane-based three-day event that aims to foster engagement with a carefully selected and curated program of 12 features and shorts that are unlikely to see Australian theatrical release beyond festival screenings. Supported by David Stratton and Jason Di Rosso, the Queensland Film Festival looks to take a more academic approach to modern cinema than its more recent festival counterparts.
Brisbane has historically been a fraught environment for film festivals – 2014 saw the cancellation of the Brisbane International Film Festival, which itself was a replacement for the Brisbane Film Festival; while the Brisbane Asia Pacific Film Festival stepped in to take its place, the Queensland Film Festival looks to serve a less mainstream market with a smaller, more targeted program. Although its success is yet to be seen, the backing of Australian cinema legend David Stratton suggests that Queensland Film Festival’s attempts to reclaim a space for Brisbane film culture to thrive will not be in vain.
The current program is fairly impressive, featuring Peter Strickland’s hotly anticipated The Duke of Burgundy, Philippe Garrel’s Melbourne International Film Festival favourite Jealousy, Guy Maddin and Evan Johnson’s collaboration The Forbidden Room, and Brisbane-based filmmaker Peter Blackburn’s first time feature effort Eight.1 The current selection of titles and the announcement of supplemental events and post-film discussions showcase an interesting trend: the festival is attempting to generate filmic discourse rather than chasing a profit motive.
The Queensland Film Festival could be exactly the solution Brisbane needs to fill the gap left by the Brisbane International Film Festival, stripping back scope in favour of quality, although the decision to tackle a fairly limited program could also serve to hurt the festival – only time will tell. Taking place from 24-26 July, just a week before the Melbourne International Film Festival and over a month after the Sydney Film Festival, it will provide the Queensland Film Festival with ample opportunity to pick up additional content from Cannes, although the inclusion of Jealousy, a film that will have premiered almost two years prior to its screening here, shows that the curators are more concerned with the quality of their product than its freshness.
The festival looks to be interested in delivering quality arthouse fare across Queensland for the foreseeable future, announcing aims to expand beyond Brisbane into regional centres over the next couple of years. Hopefully the festival will be a success, it could act as a nice companion to Sydney Film Festival’s Travelling Film Festival, allowing them to focus on other regional centres Australia-wide, and a worthy counterpoint to the specific focus of the Brisbane Asia Pacific Film Festival, which looks as though it will return again towards the end of the year.
You can read more about the Queensland Film Festival on their website. Tickets will be available in June.