EXCITED: Claudia Granshaw, Paula Jayne and new artistic director Lydia Fairhall at the 2019 Heart of Gold festival launch on Monday.
EXCITED: Claudia Granshaw, Paula Jayne and new artistic director Lydia Fairhall at the 2019 Heart of Gold festival launch on Monday. Josh Preston

Key dates revealed for Gympie's biggest arts festival

THE Heart of Gold International Short Film Festival has welcomed new artistic director Lydia Fairhall to the fore as film submissions for this year's edition officially open.

Festival brass have signalled a "bigger and better” event this year as they anticipate "more than 120” entries from all over the world, in addition to the second running of the Young Filmmakers competition.

Last year a team of Gympie creatives scooped up the National Young Filmmakers Prize for their locally produced short Brainstorm.

Ms Fairhall, who replaces Emily Avila in the director's chair after the latter's successful three-year stint, will juggle her new role with her existing one as executive producer and CEO of the Ilbijerri Theatre Company in Melbourne.

The Sunshine Coast local said her new role "felt like a homecoming”.

"Our 12th festival will be a celebration of storytelling and community, a moment in the year to pause, reflect, inspire and connect,” she said.

"(We) will screen over 120 films, plus all the workshops, family activities, gala events and filmmaker discussions we fit into a four-day program that will delight filmmakers, film lovers and local audiences.

"Our festival is so well-loved by those who attend. The Heart of Gold audience treasures short film and this is what makes screening such a delight for filmmakers.”

Ms Fairhall said she would be looking for films "that remind us that there is deep beauty and joy in everyday life”.

The festival has proven itself a global pathway. Past winners James Lucas and Mat Kirkby went on to win an Academy Award for The Phone Call in 2014 and Lucy Gaffy an AACTA for Dream Baby in 2016.

This year's festival will offer prizes from $500 to $5000, with entries to be submitted via FilmFreeway by the earlybird deadline of April 30 or the final deadline on June 30.

Head to www.heartofgold.com.au for more information on how to submit.