GCFF - Escape to a world of film - 14-25 April 2021 GCFF - Escape to a world of film - 14-25 April 2021


Submissions for the 2021 Gold Coast Film Festival have now closed. Submissions for 2022 will open in November. 

Have you been secretly shooting short films in isolation? Or working on a script when you should have been working from home? Maybe you have a feature film that you’re ready to show to the world? Feature film, short, web series or feature film script – we want to see it!

The Gold Coast Film Festival brings diverse Australian and International films, filmmakers and film events to the Gold Coast and celebrates the power of screen stories.

In 2017, Gold Coast Film Festival became an AACTA-Award qualifying film festivals for feature films.

The Gold Coast has a heritage of filmmaking, with international filmmaking introduced on the Gold Coast in the late 1980’s. Fast-forward to present day and major international films Elvis, Dora, Unbroken, Pirates of the Caribbean, Thor: Rangarok, and Aquaman have chosen the Gold Coast’s incredible locations and highly experiences and creative crew to shoot their multi-million dollar films. Gold Coast is also home to a rich community of independent filmmakers and delivers award-winning content nationally and globally. 

The 19th annual Gold Coast Film Festival will run from 14-25 April 2021 bringing 100+ films and film events to life across the Gold Coast and online.


We accept feature films, short films and web series, from Australia and around the world, and feature film scripts from Queensland-based writers.


We are an AACTA-Award qualifying film festival for feature films.

In 2021, we’ll be awarding our fifth Blackmagic Design Best Australian Indie Film Award, open to all Australian independent films. The winner will receive a Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 6k (valued at $3,000+) thanks to Blackmagic Design!

We’ll also be awarding the PKF Best Australian Film Award open to all Australian features.

For international filmmakers, all “Official Selection” films will be paid a screening fee.


$5,000 up for grabs in seven categories of SIPFEST:

  • Best Australian Film – $1,500
  • People’s Choice – $1,000
  • Runner Up Best Australian Film – $500
  • Best Screenplay – $500
  • Best International Film – $500
  • Best Film by a Gold Coast Resident – $500
  • Best Actor (male or female) – $500

SIPFest update: SIPFest short film competition will have a new home in 2021. We’ve loved bringing SIPFest to the sands of Surfers Paradise, and look forward to delivering new beach screenings in the future. We’ll still be bringing you the best selection of short films from Australia and around the world this April, but from a brand-new Gold Coast location. The new location will be announced soon.

  • Best Australian Web Series – $500 cash prize
  • Best International Web Series

The Queensland Screenwriting Award is open to feature film scripts from Queensland-based writers.
1st place:
• $5,000 cash with thanks to The Heaton Group
• VIP Industry Package for Pitch In Paradise, GCFF’s 2-day pitching market 
• The opportunity to participate in a live script read of their winning script performed by local actors during the 2021 Gold Coast Film Festival.

2nd & 3rd place: $500 cash prize thanks to The Heaton Group


Are you a Gold Coast-based filmmaker or screenwriter?

We’re waiving submission fees for Gold Coast filmmakers across all submission categories. Use the code ‘GCFILMFREE’ when submitting via FilmFreeway to waive your entry fees. Fee waiver available only to submissions from Gold Coast-based practitioners. 

Please read the terms and conditions available on Film Freeway before submitting.


* AACTA-Award Qualifying Film Festival for Features
* We look after indie filmmakers and will try wherever possible to fly selected cast/crew in and accommodate you (pending border restrictions)
* Dedicated award/prize categories for Australian features, shorts, scripts and web series
* You can take part in professional development through relevant, useful and engaging Q&As, panels and workshops – in 2019, we offered industry events with more than 150 guest speakers, panellists or moderators
* Opportunities to make valuable connections with Queensland and national industry guests
* SIPFEST offers some great cash prizes – $5000 for short filmmakers
* Blackmagic Design Best Australian Indie Film Award specifically for low-budget and independent features
* PKF Best Australian Feature Film open to all Australian features
* Queensland Screenwriting Award with $5,000 cash awarded to 1st place and the opportunity to participate in a live script read at the 2021,  Gold Coast Film Festival and $500 cash for 2nd and 3rd place – with thanks to The Heaton Group. 
* $500 cash prize for the Best Australian Webseries

We highly encourage entries from independent filmmakers and films with creative leads from under-represented backgrounds. We deliver a program that supports equality with a commitment to having 50% women speakers across the festival, all films rated by the Bechdel Test and Australia’s first film festival childcare offering.

If you would like to speak to any filmmakers who have screened at GCFF in the past, please let us know – we’d be happy to put you in touch.


We only accept submissions digitally through FilmFreeway, not on physical media (DVD/hard drive). For submission guidelines for each category, head to Film Freeway.

The 2021 Gold Coast Film Festival will be going ahead regardless of rain, hail or global pandemic. Even if the Festival is restricted or moved online, we will still award all cash prizes to filmmakers during a live-streamed virtual award ceremonies.

Even if you don’t have a film to submit to Gold Coast Film Festival this year, attending the festival is a fantastic way to acquire valuable experience and knowledge, meet collaborators, learn from experts and get inspired!  Our REELLIFE seminars and panels present varied topics and are intimate to ensure you get a chance to chat with the speakers.

But don’t take it from us, this is what some of our past filmmakers had to say:

“The Gold Coast Film Festival is welcoming and totally unpretentious – a great Australian film festival”   

Reg Cribb


“Great films, special guest seminars, retrospectives and parties! Gold Coast Film Festival is the number one genre event in Australia and you need to pay attention to what’s being discovered here.”

Joseph Sims-Dennett

Writer/Director, OBSERVANCE

Well pivoted in the COVID-19 era. The SIPFEST category was held online & run impressively with all the hurdles thrown at them. They kept a wonderful spirit, communicated clearly & treated their filmmakers & audience with class!

TJ Power

Writer/director, SIPFest People's Choice winner 2020

Ready to submit your project?

Entries are now open through Film Freeway!
Regular deadline for submissions is January 10, late deadline January 31, 2021.



** Nominations for industry awards have now closed. **

Nominations are open for screen businesses and individuals for two industry award categories: Queensland Screen Business of the Year and Gold Coast Screen Professional of the Year. 

Queensland Screen Business of the Year

  • Awarded for outstanding achievements in 2020
  • Nominations are open to any business operating in or serving the screen industry (eg screen content producers, facilities/crew/film services)
  • Nominees primary place of business/operating must be in Queensland
  • There is no entry fee to nominate
  • Nominations may be self-nominated or nominated by another individual/business

Gold Coast Screen Professional of the Year

  • Awarded for outstanding individual achievements in 2020
  • Nominations are open to any credited screen industry professional (producers/creatives/HODs/crew/performers)
  • Nominees primary place of residence must be within City of Gold Coast
  • There is no entry fee to nominate
  • Nominations may be self-nominated or nominated by another individual/business

Nominations close 10pm, January 31, 2021. Finalist announced March 10th.

Award winners will be announced at the Gold Coast Film Festival’s prestigious Screen Industry Gala Awards on April 15 at Movie World. 


  • Nominations must be received by 10pm, January 31st 2021
  • Nominations must be received via the submission form on the Gold Coast Film Festival website (gcfilmfestival.com/industryawards). Please note: you will receive a confirmation email once submitted. If you do not receive this, your nomination has not been received.
  • Nominations must include: name, contact details and 250 words highlighting your achievements during the period 1 January – 31 December 2020.
    • Achievements can include: completed projects, project announcements, promotions, increases in business size or investment, invitations to speak at events/festivals, distribution of content, award nominations/wins, board/leadership appointments or new innovations.

Terms & Conditions

  • Nominations will be assessed by a panel of industry experts who will determine finalists and a winner for each category
  • Judging panels for each award are selected at the sole discretion of GCFF and will be published on our website
  • GCFF reserves the right to exercise discretion in matters relating to the Awards including to reject a nomination, to determine the number of finalists and to decide to cancel the award and/or event.
  • Any decision regarding nominations, winners or any other matter regarding the Awards that is approved by GCFF shall be final
  • Please note that GCFF is unable to provide feedback on nominations or the decision-making process, due to the volume of nominations and the time constraints in judging.


  • Nominations must be received by 10pm, January 31st 2021
  • The finalists will be contacted and published in the GCFF Program and Website 10thMarch 2021
  • The winner will be announced at the Screen Industry Gala Awards on Thursday 15thApril 2021


Sign up to our e-newsletter to stay up-to-date with the Gold Coast Film Festival.

Your ticket will be emailed after the program announcement on March 10.