Lex Lindsay, new director for the Canberra International Film Festival, thinks audiences are ready to laugh more. Photo: Jay Cronan
"If it ain't broke, I ain't going to fix it."
That is the attitude of the Canberra International Film Festival's new director, Lex Lindsay, who was announced on Tuesday.
And he doesn't think the festival needs fixing – under previous director Simon Weaving it attracted more than 17,000 people last year who came to more than 60 feature films and documentaries and took part in discussions with festival guests from Australia and overseas.
Lindsay, 34, said he wanted to build on what was already there and establish even more opportunities for patrons to engage with film. He was heading to the Cannes Film Festival on Wednesday to look at what was new in cinema to bring the best of it to Canberra.
Lindsay was looking forward to seeing the new films from Peter Greenaway – one of his favourite filmmakers – and Jean-Luc Godard.
Although he was interested in documentaries and wanted to find the best of these for the festival, he said, "My job is not programming what I like, but what the audience really wants. I've a feeling the audience is up for a little bit more fun."
He had studied audience figures and surveys and thought that while Canberra patrons enjoyed great drama, there was room for some more laughter in the festival.
The third person to hold the position since the festival began 17 years ago, Lindsay has established festivals and curated cinema programs around Australia, such as Byron Bay, Hobart and Alice Springs.
He was the artistic director of Queer Screen and Sydney's Mardi Gras Film Festival and developed both festivals by introducing regional and touring programs, filmmaker development programs, masterclasses and, in 2011, commissioned new short documentary works that won him an Inside Film Award for Australia's Best Film Festival.
In 2012, he headed up the programming for the new Cockatoo Island Film Festival and the annual Dungog Festival of Australian Films.
Linsday is also the chairman of Queen Street Studio, an Australian Business Arts Foundation Initiative that transforms disused properties into arts studios and provides free residency and rehearsal spaces to Sydney's independent arts sector.
Festival president Nicole Mitchell said, "We are thrilled to welcome Lex to Canberra and to CIFF. Securing Lex as artistic director is an absolute coup. His insightful and thoughtful film programming, combined with his inclusive approach to audience development, will definitely delight Canberra's film lovers."
The 2013 Canberra International Film Festival runs from October 30 to November 10.
For more information, visit www.canberrafilmfestival.com.au.