Indie Gems Film Festival: In Conversation with Artistic Director John L. Simpson

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The 6th Indie Gems Film Festival is approaching fast bringing the best of independent cinema to Sydney’s West. We are now featuring this sensational film festival in The Plus Ones Sydney, and had the privilege to get the IGFF Artistic Director John L. Simpson to tell us about the event in depth just before it hits Riverside’s Raffertys Theatre.

John L. Simpson has become well known in the film industry and theatre arena as a writer, actor, producer, and distributor. His latest role as a distributor is a milestone for him, becoming the founder and CEO of Titan View films distribution company. He is also the guru of everything to do with low budget and independent cinema in this country by consulting with different film labels, and of course curating the Indie Gems Film Festival at Parramatta´s Riverside.

Being the only one of its kind in western Sydney, and most probably in the entire city, the IGFF focuses on delivering a fantastic film program “where film lovers and makers get together in a party atmosphere”, according to John. The festival has been designed for industry people and film enthusiasts interested in networking, as well as for students. And it is perhaps the students who definitely could make the best out of this 3-day festival. It is a great opportunity for students to attend priceless workshops for expanding their knowledge and experience. In addition to that they will also get to submit their films for competition in one of the sections of the festival.

Here is how our conversation with John went.

The Plus Ones: The Opening Night of the IGFF sounds very special. It is described as a networking experience with screenings of short films and web-series. Why did you organize it in this format?

John: Most film festivals have boring speeches that go on too long followed a feature film and you are too exhausted by the time you get to the party – we give everyone tasty shorts to entertain, then we feed them and give them free drinks and set them off to find like minded filmmakers to make their next film with.

TPO: Regarding the film program. How is the film selection process decided upon?

John: We only want the best films that move and inspire, and the filmmakers must also be available to speak with us after the screening.

TPO: Why is the festival focusing on Australian films this year?

John: There were so many good Australian films, too many to miss out on!

TPO: What are the highlights for you?

 John: They are all Gems! The student films are delightful!

TPO: Gayby Baby is featured in the program. What comments do you have on regards the recent controversy about screening this documentary in schools and it ending up banned by the government?

John: Gayby Baby is a beautiful film about two honest open and loving families with same sex parents. It’s anything but political, and gives insight into those families.

TPO: Will the post screening Q&A of Gayby Baby with Charlotte Mars be an appropriate platform to discuss the recent issues in the media and politics of the documentary?

John: The audience in Indie Gems is King, so if that’s where they want to go I guess we won’t stop them…My guess is the families and the filmmakers will receive a tearful standing ovation!

TPO: Why is it important for the IGFF to show it despite the political issues?

John: It is a great documentary, beautifully crafted; come see it and make up your own mind!

TPO: In addition to the film program, what else will the public get to enjoy by attending IGFF?

John: The Filmmaking Forum where filmmaker Sotiris Dounoukos, an award winning short filmmaker making his debut feature film, will share his insights whilst they are still fresh. Also, Chloe Rickard will be in attendance – she is one of Australia’s most exciting front-line producers, who will be telling fellow filmmakers how they can be involved in her next feature film.

TPO: IGFF is closing with Holding the Man plus a Q&A with Australian screenwriter and playwright Tommy Murphy. Holding the Man has already been released in cinemas, why is it important for the festival to close its 2015 season with this film?

John: This will be the ONLY screening in Sydney’s West and that’s what we are all about. Why should Parramatta film fans have to go to Newtown to see a great film? … Well now they don’t, we are in the heart of Parramatta!

TPO:What will be the contribution to the Australian Aboriginal community from IGFF for screening Prison Songs? What sort of topics will be spoken about in the Q&A?

John: Director and writer Kelrick Martin will be joining us for the Q&A. Prison Songs is very moving and will no doubt raise human right issues. There will also be lots of questions about how the filmmakers created this amazing film.

TPO: What is next for IGFF in the coming years?

John: We will continue to grow with the hearts and minds of our wonderful audience.


This is a highly recommended film festival for all of us especially interested in networking. The festival will be all about partying, as John highlighted it, where film screenings and Q&A´s, will be included in all ticket prices, and some will have food and drinks afterwards. Also it is a great opportunity to rub shoulders with industry personalities and like-minded people, not to mention the workshops and Q&A´s exclusive to the 6th edition of the festival, and of course the unique films only to be shown here.

Here is a quick glance at the festival program. For further details and information please visit IGFF website.

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IGFF starts on Friday11th September with a fabulous OPENING NIGHT GALA

7.00pm: Australia’s best new short films and web-series screening, followed by networking event, including food and drinks. Read more.


On Saturday 12th September there will be three events/screenings to attend:

 2.00pm Indie Gems Student Film Competition. Screening of the finalist’s films and winners announcement. Read more.

4.00pmFilmmaker Forum. Read more.

6.00pm Gaybaby screening, featuring Q&A with Producer Charlotte Mars. Read more.

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9.00pm Prison Songs screening, featuring Q&A with Director Kelrick Martin. Read more.

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On Sunday 13th September there will be one film screening and the Closing Night

3.00pm Freedom screening, featuring Q&A with Hollywood Director Peter Cousens (Live). Read more.

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6.30pm CLOSING NIGHT GALA: Holding the Man. Film screening, featuring Q&A with screenwriter Tommy Murphy. Ticket prices include catering and drinks. Read more.

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