About Us


Flotsam Festival is an annual showcase delivered by not-for-profit association Flotsam Arts Inc.

The festival was devised by local film makers and photographers in 2022.

You see..

Border restrictions during the pandemic affected all industries, but the creative and tourism communities along border regions like the Southern Gold Coast were particularly hard hit.

Creating a festival that could provide a platform to celebrate this coastline, nurture our creatives, and give people a reason to extend their stays in the region seemed like a win-win.

London, Berlin, New York, and Madrid all have surf film festivals. Yet despite being home to many of the world’s most iconic surf breaks and surf-inspired filmmakers, unlike the aforementioned cities the Gold Coast didn’t – until now.

Enter Flotsam, a surf film and photography celebration aiming to explore the creative side of surf culture via an eclectic mix of pop up short film installations, photography exhibitions, movie screenings, workshops and photo meets.

Flotsam (n.)_ etymology

Flotsam (n.)_ etymology

Emerging in the early 17th century from Anglo-Norman French floteson, from floter ‘to float’.

c. 1600, from Anglo-French floteson, from Old French flotaison “a floating” (Modern French flottaison), from floter “to float, set afloat” (of Germanic origin and cognate with float) + -aison, from Latin -ation(em). Spelled flotsen in English till mid-19c.

The festival name was chosen for it’s ability to convey that even if we feel discarded or get washed overboard by bigger circumstances sometimes, eventually we’ll float.



Flotsam aims to assist the local arts sector by providing a platform to showcase cultural and creative activities and events.

Developed in response to the economic impact that COVID-19 restrictions have had on the QLD border region of the southern Gold Coast, the festival was set up by newly formed Flotsam Arts Inc – a not for profit incorporated arts association.


The festival has three main goals:

The festival has three main goals:

+ To support surf filmmakers and photographic artists and their work, with a long-term goal to provide ongoing opportunities to retain artists in these fields.

+ To generate increased economic activity in the southern Gold Coast tourism sector, with flow-on effects for all local businesses.

+ To celebrate the southern Gold Coast’s iconic beaches and endemic surf culture through creative, visual events that bring together the local community as well as the wider surf and creative communities at large.

As they say, a rising tide lifts all ships

As they say, a rising tide lifts all ships

Playing with the theme ‘to float’, Flotsam aims to raise the profile of ocean-inspired creatives, lift the fortunes of southern Gold Coast traders, buoy the spirits of festival goers from all corners of the globe, and ensure the southern Gold Coast is awash with creativity for years to come.

Flotsam Arts Inc

Flotsam Arts Inc

Flotsam Art Inc’s Founding members included various photography and film artists, tourism and event specialists to form the initial working committee:

+ Peter ‘Joli’ Wilson

+ Trent Mitchell

+ Simon ‘Shagga’ Saffigna

+ Dave Emge

+ Royce Leu

+ Kath Gourley

+ Sonya Mroz

+ Caz Ridings Emge


Our Events Crew

Kath Gourley

Event manager

Current Event Manager at Miami Marketta, one of the Gold Coast’s most popular arts venues. Kathy has decades of experience over seeing successful events and tours for international brands and artists.

Sonya Mroz

Tourism Engagement

Owner of Coolangatta-based Aspect Tourism, Sonya has 20+ years of experience working with businesses such as Minor Hotels, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, Lady Elliot Island and has held board positions for Japan Tourism Gold Coast and the Australian Tourism Export Council.

Royce Leu

Branding Consultant

Royce, co-owner of Leu Creative, has a slew of related experience shaping surf and event design – Royce was previously a longtime designer at Australia’s Surfing Life magazine and Billabong, with clients including Burleigh Brewing and Blues On Broadbeach. 

Carolyn Ridings Emge


Starting out as a women’s surf mag writer, Carolyn Emge has 20 years international experience in media, events and workshop development. Carolyn is co-founder of Soul Arch Media, which for 15 years has partnered with the Gold Coast’s most iconic events to shape positive perceptions of our city.

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