QuitFlicks is a competition designed in partnership by Quit Victoria, Melbourne Queer Film Festival and Thorne Harbour Health.

Quit Victoria, the Melbourne Queer Film Festival (MQFF) and Thorne Harbour Health are asking filmmakers across Australia to address the impact of smoking in the LGBTIQ community with a new short-film competition QuitFlicks, themed ‘Cope and Connect without the Smokes’.

It’s the second year that Quit Victoria, MQFF and Thorne Harbour are partnering to raise awareness of high smoking rates in the LGBTIQ community and empower the community to make positive changes.

To enter, filmmakers must pitch an idea for a 60-second short film challenging the perception that the LGBTIQ community needs cigarettes to cope and connect, as well as promoting health and wellbeing.

Quit Victoria Director Sarah White said that smoking rates in the LGBTIQ community are more than double the national average. “Our qualitative research with community members showed there are several key reasons for this difference; smoking within the LGBTIQ community is used to cope with social anxiety and smokes are a way to connect with others socially, as well as managing stress in people’s lives.

“We want filmmakers to address these challenges and find alternatives to coping and connecting without cigarettes.

“We’re thrilled to partner with MQFF again and continue the conversation about how we can empower the LGBTIQ community to reduce smoking rates. This partnership is part of a broader alliance between Quit and Thorne Harbour working together to promote wellbeing within the community,” Dr White said.

Four successful pitches will each be awarded a $6,000 grant from Quit Victoria to develop their concept into a short film, a short interview with an LGBTIQ community member who has quit smoking and a photo pack.

The winning material will go on to form part of a community-driven public education initiative that will not only see the hard work of the winners receive wide exposure but will give the opportunity for the work to have an impact on helping to reduce smoking prevalence in the LGBTIQ community.

MQFF Chief Executive Officer, Maxwell Gratton, is delighted with Quit Victoria’s sponsorship renewal. “We welcome the return of Quit’s support and its demonstrated commitment to improving the health and wellbeing of the LGBTIQ community.

“Last year’s competition drew some brilliant submissions and kickstarted the career of some of our talented filmmakers. Given the historical glamorising of smoking in queer popular culture, this partnership is a fantastic initiative to tackle a serious issue in a creative and empowering way.”

The winning film will be chosen by a panel of judges from Quit Victoria, MQFF, Thorne Harbour Health and creative studio Catch the Bird, based on criteria including innovation, creativity, relevance and diversity.

Thorne Harbour Health Chief Executive, Simon Ruth said, “As an LGBTIQ community-controlled organisation, we believe our communities need responses developed by us. Only we can lead our communities towards a healthy future. We are proud to support this initiative to raise awareness of high smoking prevalence and drive positive health outcomes through helping LGBTIQ people quit smoking for good.”

The winning filmmaker and runner-up will win an additional $6,000 and $3,000 respectively in prize money and their films will be shown before every screening at the 2020 MQFF. The winner and runner-up will be announced at the MQFF program launch on Tuesday 11 February 2020.

For more quitting advice, visit quit.org.au or call the Quitline on 13 7848. Quit Specialists are trained to deliver smoking cessation advice to the LGBTIQ community in a culturally appropriate and accessible way.