Adam Elliot has some unexpected advice for entrants in the Mardi Gras short film competition My Queer Career: stay away from public toilets.

It used to be that every second film was set in a toilet block, the Oscar-winning director told Sydney Star Observer.

There are still a couple of -˜toilet block’ films, but they’re generally very personal films, he said.

A lot of them are still angst-ridden and a lot of them do deal withissues that are very current.

Two years since beating Hollywood studio heavyweights to an Academy Award for his animated film Harvie Krumpet, Elliot has taken up My Queer Career judging duties after a stint in 2002.

The panel -“ Elliot, ABC drama executive producer Miranda Dear and Mark Gooder, head of Icon Film Distribution -“ chose 11 finalists from about 60 Australian and New Zealand entrants this year.

A screening of the top 11 opens the Mardi Gras Film Festival at the State Theatre on 16 February, with awards including best film, screenplay and direction announced on the night.

Elliot, who is currently working on an animated feature film, said this year’s My Queer Career entries stood out for their high production values.

Nearly all of the entrants shot their entries digitally, not on film, he said.

They’re definitely becoming more sophisticated.

The My Queer Career audience can expect stories of homophobia, family identity and lesbian sex -“ and a more nuanced take on gay life.

There is gay content, but it’s not the main issue in [some of] the films. It’s very subtle, Elliot said.

Having won My Queer Career in 1999 and 2000, the Oscar winner said the competition remained vital to emerging filmmakers and the community.

I think it’s vital that we still have a queer film festival.

There are still plenty of issues out there, certain rights that we still don’t have in the gay and lesbian community, and films are a great way of communicating to people the messages that need to be sent.

Elliot won’t be on hand to congratulate My Queer Career winners -“ he’ll be showing a retrospective of his work in France and judging animation in Germany.

But he does have some final guidance for directors on the night.

I always say to students and new filmmakers: -˜Don’t ever aim for winning an Oscar. Just aim for making a good film. The rest will follow.’

My Queer Career is on at the State Theatre on Thursday 16 February at 8pm. For bookings call 132 849 or visit the Queer Screen website.

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