For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Lydia Fairhall and I am the lucky person that gets to be the Artistic Director of the 2019 Heart of Gold International Short Film Festival. Over 12 years Heart of Gold has inspired, delighted, challenged and most of all, warmed the hearts of both new and old audiences and supporters of this unique festival. We are proud to be a festival that shines a light on the well-being of the world – a festival that is what I like to call an “uplifter”.

2019 is no exception.  I am delighted to announce that this year, we are welcoming a new patron to the Heart of Gold family, none other than the incredible, talented and truly lovely Aaron Pedersen.

Aaron is in a remote location filming at present but is excited to be coming to the festival to host our awards ceremony as well as host a special screen industry networking event. Aaron’s work as one of Australia’s busiest and highly respected actors(Heartland, Water Rats, The Secret Life of Us, Mystery Road, Jack Irish) brings an extra special element to this year’s festival and we are incredibly grateful to have him as our patron.

“Storytelling is something that I’ve always been a part of. I always wanted to change the dynamics and the canvas of Australian film. I wanted young people to see their own soul. When you see your own soul it invigorates you, it really gives you power, it makes you feel stronger, it makes you believe in yourself and that’s what I want to do. Inspire people to believe in themselves and share their stories. I love the fact that Heart of Gold inspires filmmakers to shares stories that have heart and uplift our human spirit.”

Aaron Pedersen


This year we also have a feature film that is so uplifting, new and sought after that we can’t even mention it yet, but I am looking forward to sharing those details  in late August.

For the film makers, and even the film making curious we have a full day of master classes for 2019 that can either be attended individually or as a whole day of learning and exploring.

Beginning with CREATION, a script development workshop with Nicole Conventry, film producer and Production Supervisor for commissioned content at SBS, followed by COMMERCE, a deep dive into film producing- particularly in regards to protecting creativity integrity on a tight budget with celebrated director, writer and producer John Harvey.

Last but not least, we welcome the one and only Mark O Toole, one of the country’s foremost writer/producers, with over twenty years of outstanding contributions to Australian comedy will present a Masterclass on COMEDY.

With an exceptional CV across film, television and online Marks credits include such titles as Take Away, Full Frontal, Comedy Inc, Spicks and Specks, You’re Skitting Me, John Safran’s Music Jamboree, John Safran vs God, The Eric Bana Show, Squinters and Black Comedy. According to him, Mark is on of Australia’s most influential and busiest comedy writers. Mark will be sharing tricks, tips and longwinded anecdotes from his career, offering insights into what comedy is, how it works, and the best ways to go about making it. Limited spaces – register now

Lastly, in this first wave of program announcements, I am pleased to share a part of this years festival that is particularly close to my heart – a trilogy if you like, of events on the Friday night that have been designed to explore our beautiful natural world, the way we care and cultivate it and how that informs our relationship to the land and each other.

Beginning with a screening session called Caring for Culture – audiences will be invited to watch The Saltwater Story – 70 kilometres, 3 days, 2 canoes and 1 incredible adventure. This isn’t to be missed for those of you who loved the vibe of Backtrack Boys, or for those of you who missed out and are still wondering what the hype was all about.

The Caring for Culture screening will be followed by “In Conversation” where we invite a panel of Indigenous land management specialists, farmers and eco documentary film makers to explore the topic of renewed agriculture.

We close off this part of Friday night’s programming with the screening session – CARING FOR COUNTRY, where two short form eco – documentaries the compelling WARBURDUR BUNUNU and SAVING SEAGRASS.

Of course we are first and foremost a short film festival and myself alongside our valued screener groups have been awed and extremely pleased with the level of quality films that have been submitted this year. Heart of Gold will feature specially curated short film sessions throughout each of the four days and nights of the festival. Join our Facebook event for updates about Shorts Session as they are announced.

Heart of Gold International Short Film Festival runs from 3 – 6 October at the Civic Centre in Gympie, Queensland.

Earlybird passes are onsale July 21 – Sept 8. Buy now


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