HIGHLIGHTS: The 2016 Heart of Gold Festival starts on Thursday
HIGHLIGHTS: The 2016 Heart of Gold Festival starts on Thursday Craig Warhurst

10 films you can't miss at this year's Heart of Gold Festival

TOMORROW marks the official launch of the Heart of Gold International Film Festival, with audiences guaranteed to see incredible works from both Australia and abroad.

But with so many great films on display across the weekend, it can be difficult to pick a session, let alone an individual film.

It's why the festivals new artistic director Emily Avila has picked 10 of her favourites ahead of the Heart of Gold launch on Thursday.

Thursday, Oct 6

1. Bingo! (Thursday 9:30am - Fossickers Room) (Netherlands, Animation) - Two minutes of sheer joy set in a retirement home and following a feisty retiree who is determined to put things right and find last night's missing bingo ball.

2. Slingshot (Thursday 12pm - Fossickers Room) (Australia, Comedy) - School holidays at a caravan park and lots of familiar characters, this Aussie comedy is an amusing analogy of modern love told through the eyes of one of its victims.

3. Dream Baby (Thursday 2pm - Heritage Theatre) (Australia, Drama) - Heart of Gold alumni Lucy Gaffy returns to the festival with her latest short, Dream Baby.

Featuring a powerful performance by Darcey Wilson, this is the story of Elvis - a little girl with a dream to escape her remote caravan park. 

4. I Want to Dance Better at Parties (Thursday 4:30pm - Heritage Theatre) (Australia, Documentary) - An incredibly heartwarming documentary about finding your way through grief.

After his wife passes away, a man takes up dance classes as a way to distract himself. A screener favourite and an absolute gem.

5. The Drover's Boy (Thursday 7:30pm - Heritage Theatre) (Australia, Documentary) - Australian documentary filmmaker Margaret McHugh is a revelation.

Her hybrid documentary style infuses the story with emotional resonance.

Margaret is a special guest of Heart of Gold and will be holding a master-class on Friday and Saturday.

Friday, Oct 7

6. Clumsy Little Acts of Tenderness (Friday 11am - Heritage Theatre) (Finland, Comedy) - A sweet and offbeat coming-of-age story about a dad and daughter whose weekend takes an unexpected and embarrassing turn. 

7. Ernie (Friday 4pm - Heritage Theatre) (USA, Drama) - American filmmaking wunderkid, Hadley Hillel, was just 17 years old when he began making Ernie and it is incredible what he's been able to achieve.

Saturday, October 8

8. Phil's Camino (9:30am - Fossickers Room) (USA, Documentary) - The unmissable Australian premiere of this festival favourite.

An extraordinary true story of free spirit Phil, a man living with Stage 4 Cancer and dreaming of walking the 500 mile spiritual pilgrimage Camino de Santiago across Spain.

Unable to make the trip, he does the next best thing: he builds a Camino in the forest behind his house.

When I first watched Phil's Camino, I laughed, I cried and I immediately emailed the filmmakers to get it into the program - pure Heart of Gold material.

9. Mining Poems or Odes (Saturday 1pm & 5:30pm - Heritage Theatre) (Scotland, Documentary) - I'm thrilled to present the Australian premiere of a beautifully crafted documentary with an unlikely subject.

Robert is an ex-shipyard welder who has embarked on a second career - as a poet.

Filmmaker Callum Rice is from Scotland and I spotted the film in the Sundance program. 

10. Ten Meter Tower (Saturday 5:30pm - Heritage Theatre) (Sweden, Documentary) - An observational documentary that takes place at the top of the highest diving tower at a local Swedish swimming pool.

This film has a quiet charm that catches you off guard as you start to recognise patterns in the way people react in a vulnerable situation, and you find yourself willing the subjects to take the plunge and jump.

Sunday, October 9

Don't forget Sunday is family day as well, with plenty of activities, workshops and films sure to delight young (and young at heart) audiences all day.

Programming information and tickets for the Heart of Gold International Film Festival can be found at www.heartofgold.com.au

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