Dive deep into love – on film and by the book

We love spine-tingling reads about romance and watching films that sometimes break your heart, so why not have a festival that celebrates love?

Feb 19, 2024, updated Feb 19, 2024
Takaya Honda stars as Callum Mori in romantic film The Gift That Gives, which screens at the Blussh Romance Festival.

Takaya Honda stars as Callum Mori in romantic film The Gift That Gives, which screens at the Blussh Romance Festival.

Sentimentalists in Brisbane are in for a treat with the debut of a new festival celebrating the love of romance – especially the reading and movie kind.

The Blussh Romance Festival, which runs from February 22 to 25, features classic movies of the genre, including premieres, previews, retrospectives and iconic masterworks – all showing at the new Angelika Film Centre at Woolloongabba.

Romance literature and its subgenres will also be explored with some of Brisbane’s most successful romance writers at meet-and-greets.

Restaurants in South City Square, where Angelika is based, are also getting in on the act, offering discounts for patrons who want to indulge before or after the events.

Festival director Sue-Anne Chapman says Queensland is producing more romance films and publishing more romance writers than anywhere else in Australia, so she decided to indulge that by curating a festival to scratch that itch and inspire audiences and creatives.

“Through film and literature, the festival will share the magic and beauty of falling in love,” Chapman says. “There’s such an appetite for these films, not only in Australia, and the national distributors are looking for content.”

Book events featuring conversations and signings with romance writers are peppered throughout the four-day romance extravaganza.

“We started looking at romance books and started to do a deep dive and we just uncovered this huge community,” Chapman says. “There’s a National Romance Readers Association that puts on these huge events. Every romance novel that’s released is a sell-out. If they can get the author into a room, they’re just sell-outs and they’re multi-edition.

“And it’s not just one book. Amy Andrews, for example, she’s got a backlist of 80 romance books. It’s phenomenal.

“So we have emerging and established authors who write contemporary romance, historical romance and LGBT road trip romance. Amy is at the festival on Sunday.”

The pink carpet will roll out for the Opening Night Gala and the Australian premiere of One Perfect Match, a film shot entirely on location in Brisbane and produced by local production house Jaggi Entertainment.

Chapman says they’ve enjoyed mining all the romance tropes to help select the feature movies and says The Gift That Gives is a particular highlight.

“The sub-genres or the tropes, from enemies to lovers – we deep dive into all that,” Chapman says. “The Gift That Gives is a modern romance looking at diversity in nationalities, while Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is looking at our youth and LGBTQ+ community.

“And, yes, we have our iconic gems, Romeo and Juliet and Twilight.

“The whole purpose is for romance writers to connect with romance audiences and for people to have a beautiful experience and help reignite their love for love. I think there’s enough doom and gloom.”

The Blussh Romance Festival runs February 22 to 25 at the Angelika Film Centre, Woolloongabba

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