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Regional screen cultures: The precarity and significance of Queensland’s film festival landscape
journal contributionposted on 2020-12-01, 00:00 authored by Elizabeth EllisonElizabeth Ellison, T Van Hemert
In the midst of drought in Central Queensland, the small town of Winton triples its population for the Vision Splendid Outback Film Festival. Even when facing challenges, the local community values the way the festival brings the community together, injects tourist dollars into the local economy and provides visibility to the local screen industry. However, staging a film festival in a regional location can be challenging. There are often less local funding and sponsorship opportunities available and the geographical distances involved increase pressure on time, resources and costs. Combined with increasingly accessible digital content and changing audience habits, regional film festivals face significant disadvantages in comparison to their metropolitan counterparts. This article examines the role of Queensland's film festival network, focusing on how regional festivals are central to the development of the screen industry beyond the metropolitan centres. The research is based on a mapping project of film festivals in Queensland undertaken in 2018, which included interviews with festival organisers and industry professionals. 68 active festivals were identified across Queensland, of which 45% took place in Brisbane. This article investigates both the value of film festivals and the challenges for their economic sustainability in Queensland's screen culture and industry.