A secret cinema society: inside the Australian International Movie Convention

Fashion designers have Fashion Week in Sydney; the cinema industry has the Australian International Movie Convention on the Gold Coast.

Instead of hairspray and makeup samples in goody bags for the fashionistas, it’s DVDs and movie mags in knapsacks that AIMC delegates go mad for. Instead of fashion trend forecasts for summer and winter, it’s all about box office predictions and awards buzz for the year ahead.

So another year, another crazy opening night. Or in this case, a Mental one.

The 900-strong crowd represents every facet of Australia’s cinema industry: everything from operators, exhibitors, distributors and media, right down to candy bar suppliers and seating manufacturers.

Sure, glittering awards nights like the AACTAs (formerly the AFIs) give actors accolades and maybe even get them a spot on the best dressed lists, but this is where some of the big wheelings and dealings go down. Films get churned out; whether cinemas choose to book those films on screens, and for how long, well, that’s the real bottom line when it comes to smash hit or flop.

Studio heavyweights from Hollywood are flown to movie conventions all around the world – think the Gold Coast, Las Vegas, Hong Kong, Florida and Paris – sometimes for less than 24 hours, just to give five-minute presentations on upcoming features and woo theatre owners into booking their films. Delegates are shown exclusive footage and daily rushes from works in progress. And local content is given the VIP treatment: opening night on the GC, for example, is traditionally reserved for an Aussie premiere.

Two years ago it was Tomorrow When the War Began, last year it was The Cup, and this year it was Mental making its Queensland debut on opening night. While all the films have strict embargos in place restricting reviews until closer to release, what I can say is that it’s nice to see Muriel’s Wedding director PJ Hogan (pictured below right with Mental stars Anthony LaPaglia, Rebecca Gibney and Lily Sullivan) reunited with Toni Collette in another out-there Aussie comedy (as seen below, Collette plays a crazy hitchhiker called “Shaz” in the film). Filmed on the Gold Coast and Coolangatta, Universal’s Mental is one of the bigger Aussie productions to release in 2012, alongside Bait 3DThe Sapphires, Lore and Dead Europe, plus tv shows turned big screen works Kath and Kimderella and Houzos Vs Authority. 

Can’t wait to see what the rest of the week brings!

Toni Collette Mental
Toni Collette plays Shaz in Mental
La Paglia, Rebecca Gibney, PJ Hogan, Lily Sullivan
Mental castmembers Anthony La Paglia, Rebecca Gibney, director P.J. Hogan and Lily Sullivan


(Images: PJP Photography/AIMC)

the author

Marie C

Feature writer by trade, movie maniac by night, Marie-Christine grew up watching films from the projection booth at the local drive-in and now she's lucky enough to write about them.

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