A short film competition run by the Melbourne Queer Film Festival (MQFF) and Quit Victoria will aim to raise awareness around high smoking rates in the LGBTI community.

The ‘Keep The Vibe Alive’ competition will ask filmmakers to submit a written pitch for the production of a 60-second short film challenging the perception that smoking is attractive.

Smoking rates in the LGBTI community are up to three times higher than those in the general population, with recent research from Sydney finding that 48 per cent of 16 – 24 year olds reported using tobacco.

Director of Quit Victoria, Sarah White, believes this is in part because the tobacco company exploits queer pop culture.

“Research has found that viewers of movies with LGBTI themes are exposed to one depiction of tobacco use every 15 minutes,” she said.

“This competition will, we hope, provide a new, community-driven way to challenge the idea that smoking is cool.”

The competition will award five successful pitches a $4,000 dollar grant to develop their concept into a short film.

Entrants will have to use their films to highlight how cigarettes can ‘kill the vibe’ of intimate of important moments.

Chief Executive of MQFF, Maxwell Gratton, said the team was thrilled to see Quit Victoria’s commitment to reducing smoking rates in the LGBTI community.

“Our community has been targeted by the glamourising of smoking in queer popular culture for years,” he said.

“This competition will turn this around in a creative and empowering way, and generate exposure and recognition for our talented filmmakers.”

The winning film will be decided by a panel of judges from Quit Victoria and MQFF, as well as Minus18 and Thorne Harbour Health.

The winning filmmaker will win an additional $4,000 dollars in prize money and their film will be shown before every screening at next year’s Melbourne Queer Film Festival, which will run from March 14 – 25.

Chief Executive of Minus18, Micah Scott, said he was proud to champion to supportive programs that foster the development of healthy young people.

“We have a long history of running smoke-free events and are pleased to be working with Quit Victoria to help young people make informed choices about smoking,” he said.

Chief Executive of Thorne Harbour Health, Simon Ruth, said only LGBTI communities can lead themselves towards a healthy future.

“We are proud to support this initiative to raise awareness of high smoking prevalence and drive positive health outcomes through helping LGBTI people quit smoking for good,” he said.

For more information about the ‘Keep The Vibe Alive’ competition and details on how to enter, visit: www.quit.org.au/keep-the-vibe-alive

For more quitting advice, visit quit.org.au or call the Quitline on 13 78 48.

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