Interview: AACTA Festival ambassador Chris Alosio; “It’s our opportunity as artists to reflect the life and times that we’re living in now.”

In December last year, The Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) proudly announced the debut of the AACTA Festival, a four-day celebration of Australia’s vibrant screen industry that promises an immersive experience for all, from industry professionals to film enthusiasts, school-leavers, families, and aspiring creatives.  The festival, including the AACTA Awards presented by Foxtel Group, will be hosted at the Home of the Arts (HOTA) on Queensland’s Gold Coast from February 8th-11th, 2024.

As the festival inches closer with the recent announcement of outdoor movie screenings and updated panel discussions guests, Peter Gray spoke with the of the AACTA Festival ambassadors, actor Chris Alosio.  Fresh off appearing in last year’s critically acclaimed Talk To Me and Taika Waititi’s Next Goal Wins, the rising star talked about his role within the festival, his aspirations for the Australian screen industry, and what he’s taken away from his work experiences.

I saw you at BIFF for Next Goal Wins, and obviously the strike was still ongoing at that time.  Must’ve been nice to be able to then promote the film for its Australian release…

Yeah, there was a bunch of the cast that were there in Sydney for it.  You had us Aussies, me and Uli Latukefu, and Oscar Kightley.  Was nice to see everyone again, and I’ve seen the film now, so there’s no surprises coming (laughs).

Nice to know you made the final cut.

(Laughs) Yeah, 100%.

You’ve based yourself in Queensland now.  Was the AACTA Festival something you were aware of prior? Was it ambassadorship something you had ever thought of exploring? Or it was more an opportunity that presented itself?

I was aware of AACTA after doing my first gig, and I actually won an award for it.  Since then I’ve followed (AACTA) over the years, and seen who’s been doing what.  I got a call about being an ambassador for the awards, and that this year was going to be different because it was on the Gold Coast.  It was a smart move to do that, with all the studios there.  Also, I feel like Sydney and Melbourne have done their thing.  Brisbane, Queensland…a lot of international (productions) come in.  The AACTAs coming up here, it’s like a rolling stone, where one thing will lead to another.  The more exposure (the festival) gets, the more people get amongst it.  And that’ll lead to more people being aware.

There really is something for everyone here.  The talks are the type of conversations I think anyone in the industry would be grateful to hear.  It’s cool that the Racka boys are there (Talk To Me directing duo Michael and Danny Philippou).  I mean, I may be biased having worked with them, but what they put out with Talk To Me was a game changer.  And not just for Australia.  To perform on an international stage but still be as Aussie as they come (laughs).  It’s a pretty crazy feat.  Aussie movies aren’t always talked about in those regards.  People say you’re lucky to make back your budget.  That’s the attitude.  But these guys have almost cracked 100 (million worldwide) the last time I checked.  They’re obviously doing something right.  Hopefully, what I want most for AACTA is to help Queenslanders tell stories of their own.

You look at other pockets of how Queensland supports their own.  I don’t really follow NRL, but that “Queenslander” attitude about the everyman working and getting their hands dirty in the sun brings a certain respect.  Imagine what Queensland could do with the film industry with that kind of support?  I’m actually writing something at the moment.  It’s cooking.  It’s about Brisbane.  I’m excited to develop it.  It’s something that I, as an artist, feel like I have to contribute.

You’re part of the festival as an ambassador.  Are you also getting involved in the panel discussion side of things?

I’m just saying yes to whatever they need (laughs).  If the Racka boys are there I’d obviously love to check that out, and try to derail it (laughs).  I was talking to the Macfarlane Brothers (fellow ambassadors) about what it is we can do.  We’re given a lot of license over what it is we can do.  I think a festival like this can benefit from us causing a little havoc (laughs).

I mean, it is the Gold Coast…

(Laughs) 100%.  I think the people that will come, considering so much of it is free, and it feels quite exclusive, it’s like having something that’s usually so far out of reach.  You usually have to go to the States for one of their big festivals to get the feeling that AACTA has.  I remember going to a Comic-Con when I was younger, and the guys I met there really set for the platform for how fun a festival can be.  I think young kids coming to something like AACTA will just spark their imagination.  And I think it’s why the Gold Coast is such a great place, because if anywhere was going to resemble the hype culture of those American festivals, it’s the Goldy.  I think this festival being the inaugural one will allow a good gage on what Australians want out of their festivals.  It’s the perfect format.  They’re literally putting everything out there to “have it all”.

As you mentioned about writing before, and you having your own experience with international festivals, like Sundance with Talk To Me, does it help in knowing what you can and can’t do from an operating view of the creative?

Absolutely. There’s so much chance of failure.  You hear the running joke of “the poor artist”, and, as an actor, you can put forward the best performance of your life and never get a lead.  Or you can cut from the final edit.  There are so many things that play into whether your work can be seen or not.  It’s another reason I look up to Danny and Mikey.  They weren’t making Talk To Me for the money.  They did it their way.  But it just happened to make a shit tonne of money (laughs).  They ticked both boxes.  And they put Australia on the map in a way that hadn’t been seen before.  It’s our opportunity as artists to reflect the life and times that we’re living in now.

Alosio, alongside actors Lincoln Lewis and Savannah La Rain (Bosch & Rockit), and filmmaking siblings the Macfarlane Brothers will serve as the festival’s ambassadors, with the Gold Coast’s Home of the Arts (HOTA) serving as the home-base for the 4-day celebration of Australia’s vibrant screen industry, that promises an immersive experience for all, from industry professionals to film enthusiasts, school-leavers, families, and aspiring creatives.

Following on from the original announcement, where the AACTA Festival noted its dynamic array of panels, meet-and-greets, screenings and activities which are predominantly free to attend, new events to the program have been added, which include three incredible outdoor film screenings, live music, and events from such fan favourite shows as Yellowjackets, Colin From Accounts and The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart.

The stars will align for the outdoor screenings, as festival goers can enjoy an unforgettable movie experience under the stars. Kicking off on Thursday February 9 is the 25th-anniversary screening of 10 Things I Hate About You, a timeless classic that introduced the world to the incomparable talent of the late, great Heath Ledger. On Friday February 10, prepare to be tickled pink with the box office smash hit Barbie, paired with a special BBQ and best-dressed competitions. Then on Sunday February 11 bask in the magic of The Greatest Showman, one of the greatest musicals of all time, starring Australia’s own Hugh Jackman. Enjoy some gourmet picnic boxes and exquisite wines complete with a very special introduction from the Australian director, Michael Gracey. Come together and unite in community, under the stars, and experience the sheer magic of some of the most remarkable films ever made. All films will be held in the breathtaking setting of the Outdoor Stage at HOTA and are completely free to attend, guests will just need to register to secure their spot.

In addition to the outdoor screenings, AACTA are thrilled to announce new programming added to the festival including live music, meet the nominees and creator panels, an exclusive Yellowjackets Q&A, and much more. The full program can be viewed at

Queensland’s talent takes centre stage as local music acts perform on the outdoor stage, offering free entertainment to festival guests. Soulful songstress Sunny Luwe brings feel-good bliss, while Kent Dustin shares his unique blend of indie folk sounds. Pop and soul singer Alisha Todd completes the line-up, enchanting with her ’90s-inspired indie folk fusion.

The festival is delighted to expand on the “Meet the Creators” series – panel discussions with internationally renowned talent – with the addition of The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart and the team behind Colin From Accounts. For industry guests, panels have also been expanded to include hot topic items such as The Future of Streaming and Looking Ahead At Screen Trends sessions. Also added is a special female-focussed Speed Networking event, which will give women a great platform to connect with their peers.

AACTA CEO Damian Trewhella has said “AACTA is thrilled to unveil our expanded festival program with the unmissable outdoor screenings as a highlight. We’re excited to curate an immersive experience under the stars, fostering a sense of community and appreciation for the exceptional industry talent in Australia and beyond.”

Peter Gray

Seasoned film critic. Gives a great interview. Penchant for horror. Unashamed fan of Michelle Pfeiffer and Jason Momoa.