Queer Screen’s Mardi Gras Film Festival have announced their program for 2015 and it features a whole host of international festival films, including Lilting, Tru Love and Castanha, and sees an encore screening of Queer Screen Film Festival favourite The Way He Looks.
The focus on a different cultures in this years festival also sees Queer Screen giving local audiences an array of perspectives on interpretations of sexuality from Russia to Sri Lanka and the Native American community in the United States. There will also be two retrospective screenings, the 10th year anniversary screening of Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain and the 45th anniversary screening of cult Australian film The Cut.
An interesting inclusion in the line-up is recent Disney smash hit Frozen, which has been widely accused/praised for its apparent lesbian subtext and, in a fairly hilarious phrase courtesy of a religious blogger, said to contain a “gay agenda to normalize homosexuality”. That sing-along screening encourages costumes and acts as a way for the festival to connect with a younger audience, here termed ‘rainbow kids’.
Festival Director Paul Struthers, who also helmed the Queer Screen Film Festival, said of the programming choice, “Frozen is such a fun film that will appeal to old and young; we felt it was the perfect pick for our Rainbow Kids screening. At Queer Screen it is very important to cater for the younger LGBTIQ as well. In addition to Frozen, we have some films certified for age 15 plus – Boy Meets Girl, The Way He Looks and Boys. We’re focusing on that this year because, more than anything, at that age we often struggle with our sexuality, so is important to have films our youth can see, so they can see themselves represented onscreen.”
Also likely to be a crowd favourite is documentary Do I Sound Gay?, which sees documentarian David Thorpe interview Margaret Cho, David Sedaris, George Takei and other notable figures to discuss the perception of sexuality through the oft-stereotyped ‘gay voice’.
The festival will also be hosting some world premieres, All About E and Drown (pictured above), both films having Sydney as their backdrop. Struthers notes that “Drown is set in around our beaches, and if you live in Sydney or have been here, you’re going to recognise a lot of places. The same can be said about All About E. All of the Sydney-set films seem to be selling fast, so it’s great to see the community supporting local talent. Another feature set in and around Sydney is Skin Deep, which was mainly shot in and around Newtown. We are pleased to have the Australian Premiere of this film.”
There are also a lot of short films on display, all programmed by Andrew Barnard and James Woolley, from the international ‘Gay Shorts’, to the eclectic ‘Mixed Shorts’, and the festival’s only competition, ‘My Queer Career’, which showcases some of the best LGBTIQ shorts from Australian filmmakers, all competing for cash prizes and entry into the Welsh Iris Prize, the largest short film competition for LGBTIQ shorts. Interestingly enough, the last three winners have been Australian shorts, and last year’s My Queer Career winner, Brendon McDonall’s All God’s Creatures, went on to take the top prize in Wales.
For audiences out west, once again the festival will screen select films at Parramatta’s Riverside Theatres. The films on show there can be viewed here.
Some highlights we would recommend include July Jung’s A Girl at My Door, here co-presented with Sydney Film Festival, which we saw at MIFF last year. In her review of the film Matilda Surtees wrote:
“The depiction of their powerful and positive intimacy defies categorisation. It exceeds the boundaries and the capacities of conventional friendship: usually a relationship of such proximity, strength, and support would usually be situated within either familial or romantic/sexual sphere but this is neither…A Girl At My Door is not revolutionary or radical cinema, but it gestures towards new and bold representations of kinship and community that are sorely missing in society.”
Also showing is Mala Mala, a moving, crowd-funded documentary about gender and sexuality in modern Puerto Rico. In her review of the film at Tribeca last year, Isabelle Galet-Lalande wrote:
“Directors Santini and Sickles have achieved something incredible in attempting to explain the abstract nature of gender identification and how their subjects situate themselves on the ‘gender spectrum’…their stories will be fascinating and revelatory for anyone who has ever struggled to understand the varying emotional states that underlie drag and transgender identity.”
You can see the full lineup and find out more information about the festival here.