Heart of Gold International Film Festival Returns Triumphant
A WORLD class event was staged in Gympie at the weekend with the return of the Heart of Gold International Film Festival exceeding expectations in standard of films, attendance and organisation.
The sixth Heart of Gold International Film Festival was pulled together in a short time on a shoe-string budget by a board of directors keen to see this positive event happen for Gympie.
Their selection of two passionate and talented art directors paid off and the combined efforts of all involved ensured a top time for all festival goers.
Film makers themselves, Brisbane based Tahnee McGuire and Stephen Kanaris took on the role of art directors despite the setbacks because they could see potential in the short film festival.
Their relationship with Heart of Gold began several years ago when they entered their work in the film awards. Stephen and Tahnee were invited back the following year to judge festival entries and this year picked a range of short films that were box office hits.
“ I had a fantastic time working on the festival … We were so pleased that so many of the films we selected struck a chord with audience members,” Tahnee said. "The buzz during the festival was electric and I enjoyed watching audience members talk about the films afterwards with excitement. I think the Heart of Gold is going to grow and I'm excited that its return to Gympie was triumphant.”
Film buffs said the standard of films screened this year was outstanding, and film makers were unanimous in saying Heart of Gold was their favourite film festival of all they had been to around the world, that the warmth of the Gympie people made it extra special.
Stephen said some of the most memorable experiences during the festival for him were the reactions of film makers who said watching their films with the local crowd was their best experience they had watching their own film.
“All our thanks must go to the wonderful, generous Gympie audiences,” Stephen said. “Also, all the people who hosted film makers and drove them around, thanks so much for your warmth and hospitality. Again that was commented on by many film makers. These positive experiences will be going back to Japan, New Zealand and all around Australia and that's great for the local area.”
All the senses were engaged – catering at the corporate functions for sponsors roffered a culinary experience second to none. Wide Bay Tafe’s hospitality students, under the guidance of Chef Darren Sandrini, served up a selection of canapés that delighted tastebuds at the opening night and awards ceremony, and Little Haven Palliative Care volunteers ran a café with a great selection of home-cooked food and fantastic coffee.
Among the highlights were special guest Akmal Saleh and the screening of his inspiring film about the Egyptian uprising. Akmal stayed for the Gold Heart Awards to present the Best Comedy, which went to film maker Alex Weinress for his short comedy, A First Date. “I loved it,” Akmal said of the festival back at his Byron Bay home this week. “I had a great time and couldn’t believe the standard of films the Gympie festival attracted for such a young festival in a small town. The standard of films was amazingly high, but the festival is still small enough to offer filmmakers a warm welcoming environment.”
Among the filmmakers at the festival to accept their awards was Bernadette Trench-Thiedeman, whose film Lurrujarra Dreaming won Best Indigenous Film. Queensland filmmaker Sheldon Lieberman, whose short film has been on a world festival tour, said his experience at Heart of Gold outshone all the prestigious festivals he had attended. Sheldon’s short film Mud Crab took out the award for Best Queensland Film and can be viewed on the web at spikeanddadda.com for those who missed it at the festival.
Tahnee and Stephen along with hundreds of Heart of Gold organisers and volunteers, finally breathed out on Sunday afternoon after months of uncertainty was lifted with the event’s success. Board chairman Kerren Smith was over the moon about the festival from start to finish and was looking toward building on the success for 2014.