On the Couch with Lisa Daniel

Lisa DanielWho is Lisa Daniel?
I’m the Director of the Melbourne Queer Film Festival. It’s a position I’ve held since 1998. Outside of that I’m a guardian of 4 pugs and 3 chickens with my partner Claire on our 10 acres on the Mornington Peninsula.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
I did entertain the idea of doing a psychology degree at one stage, but somehow got distracted by film and the film festival along the way. I feel I have the perfect job, so I really wouldn’t do anything differently to what I’m doing now. Although perhaps learning the art of work/life balance wouldn’t go astray!

Who inspires you and why?
I’m inspired by anyone who tries to make a difference to their community, whether it’s a local person volunteering in a small organization, or someone in political life who wants to make change. I’m regularly inspired by people who volunteer, and aspire to make volunteering a consistent part of my life.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
Wouldn’t it be fantastic if we could remove the judgemental personality trait from our world? I have no idea how that could happen, but if we could it would be a priority, and would make an enormous difference to the lives of millions. I used to joke that instead of national service, that all school leavers should do a year of working in hospitality or as a carer for someone less able, before they embark on study or a career. I like to think that working in a service industry like hospitality or as a carer might iron out some judgemental traits in some of us while we’re still young.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Anywhere that has warm weather, a great beach and fantastic food. On the flip-side, anywhere that has a great multi-day hiking track.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take then to, and why?
I’d take them to my 10 acres on the Mornington Peninsula and go on a driving tour of the wineries and eateries. It’s a beautiful part of the world, and ticks a lot of boxes in terms of my attraction to good food, good beaches and nice driving.

What are you currently reading?
Devil’s Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three, and Breaking News: Sex, Lies and the Murdoch Succession.

What are you currently listening to?
Bit late to the party, but have finally cottoned on to Lorde Pure Herione. Other than that, I’m still addicted to anything from New Zealand in the 1990s.

Happiness is?
Good food, good friends, good health, family, my partner and my pugs in no particular order.

What does the future hold for you?
I’m still passionate about the queer film festival, so I’d like to continue there if they’ll have me, and after that, who knows, maybe I’ll finally get that psychology degree! High on my bucket list is to learn to surf, and to do more volunteering. Perhaps I can somehow combine the two?

Lisa Daniel has a Master of Arts majoring in film and worked as a lecturer in film and media at a number of Melbourne Universities including Monash University and the Victorian College of the Arts. She has been a freelance writer in film and been published in a variety of international publications, as well as being the Editor of The Bent Lens: A World Guide to Gay and Lesbian Film (Allen & Unwin, Alyson Books, 2003). Lisa is the Director of the Melbourne Queer Film Festival – a position she has held since 1998. In 2005 Lisa was named ‘Woman of the Year’ at Melbourne’s Rainbow Awards.

Lisa regularly serves on international film festival juries, is one of the longest serving queer film festival directors in the world, and is widely respected in her field both nationally and internationally. She has overseen the growth of the MQFF from a small community film festival with 30 sessions and 3000 attendees to one of the largest and most respected queer film festivals in the world with over 100 sessions and attendance of 25,000.

In her spare time, Lisa is a keeper of chickens and pugs, and recently survived a house build with her partner Claire that featured on the Lifestyle Program Grand Designs Australia.

The Melbourne Queer Film Festival continues to 24 March 2014. For more information, visit: www.mqff.com.au for details.

Image: Lisa Daniel