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Five Films Worth Making the Drive to the Gold Coast Film Festival to See

Road trip to see Australia's answer to 24, Cynthia Nixon as Emily Dickinson, and a black-and-white boxing flick that's also a love story.

Dark days might've descended upon Brisbane's film festival scene with the cancellation of the city's major government-funded fest, however, everything remains sunny on the Gold Coast, naturally. In fact, the Gold Coast Film Festival celebrates its 15th year in 2017, showcasing 32 features between April 19 and 30, and screening everywhere from a boat to the beach to a brewery.

Kicking off with Kiwi romp Pork Pie, watching Emma Watson jump into tech thriller territory in The Circle, seeing The Castle's Stephen Curry turn Hounds of Love serial killer: they're just some of the movie treats in store during GCFF's 12-day run. And if they're not enough to inspire a road trip down south to sit in a cinema, here's five other flicks you should put on your must-see list.

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XX

Horror anthologies are almost as common as horror movie characters making bad decisions. Yep, you've seen plenty of both before. XX stands out for a groundbreaking reason: it's the first horror anthology solely written and directed by female filmmakers. About time, you're probably thinking — and you're right — however there's more to this scarefest then showcasing the fright-inducing skills of four talented ladies. One story jumps into creature feature terrain, another finds the evil side of raising a child. And, the film also includes the directorial debut of Annie Clark, aka St. Vincent.

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A QUIET PASSION

Goodbye Miranda Hobbes, hello Emily Dickinson — worlds away from her time on Sex and the City, Cynthia Nixon is at her absolute best in poet-focused biopic A Quiet Passion. Indeed, she so convincingly steps into the shoes of the reclusive 19th century slinger of lyrical words, becoming mesmerised by her commanding performance is a foregone conclusion. The feature also marks the latest effort from Sunset Song filmmaker Terence Davies, who has been carving quite a considerable niche in making movies about norm-defying women.

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MY LIFE AS A COURGETTE

In years to come, we'll all look back at this year's animated film category at the Oscars and wonder why My Life as a Courgette (also known as My Life as a Zucchini) didn't win. The Swiss-French claymation effort engages, entertains and amuses — and boasts more feeling in its dollops of plasticine than many movies with flesh-and-blood actors. Directed by illustrator Claude Barras and co-written by Girlhood's Céline Sciamma, it tells the tale of an orphaned boy finding his way in the world in a new care facility. As beautiful in its emotions as it is in its imagery, it's nothing short of an animated triumph.

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THE HAPPIEST DAY IN THE LIFE OF OLLI MAKI

As far as famous boxers are concerned, Finnish fighter Olli Mäki didn't become a worldwide household name. As this warm-hearted recreation of his 1962 world championship bout shows, however, there's a reason for that. A gorgeously shot black-and-white boxing flick that's also a love story, The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki charms from start to finish, wowing critics when it premiered at last year's Cannes Film Festival and continuing to do so as it jumps around the international festival circuit.

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EVENT ZERO

Local thrills will bring this year's GCFF to a close — if you've ever wondered what 24 would look like if it was set in Australia, Event Zero has the answer. The film steps into a scenario where Sydney is under attack from terrorists, a deadly virus is seeping through the population, cops try to chase down the culprits and politicians squabble about how to best use the situation to their advantage. It's directed by producer and editor turned writer and helmer Enzo Tedeschi, who also wrote the very effective low-budget horror The Tunnel back in 2011.

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Keen for more GCFF recommendations? The list doesn't stop there. Check out our thoughts on Hounds of Love from the Brisbane Asia Pacific Film Festival, Alliance Francaise French Film Festival highlight Planetarium, and playful Chilean poetry biopic Neruda from the Cine Latino Film Festival, as well as our review of claustrophobic Egyptian revolution effort Clash.

The Gold Coast Film Festival runs from April 19 to 30 at The Arts Centre Gold Coast and other venues on the Gold Coast. For more information and to buy tickets, visit the festival website.

Published on April 19, 2017 by Sarah Ward

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