CELEBRATE queer culture on screen when the 2016 edition of the Melbourne Queer Film Festival rolls into town once again from March 31. April Dudgeon has the festival highlights.
In the midst of a national debate about how we should treat Australia’s LGBTI community, a bit of fun and creative difference will take over cinema screens in March as Australia’s largest and longest-running queer film festival returns for 2016.
The Melbourne Queer Film Festival (MQFF) will have more than 120 films on show from more than 22 countries, including 38 features, 16 documentaries, 74 shorts, 11 Australian premieres, 28 Melbourne premieres and 12 special event screenings and forums.
Screenings will take place at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) and Cinema Nova.
MQFF Program Manager, Spiro Economopoulos, says he is looking forward to this year’s events and the opportunity to showcase some unexplored voices.
“One of the joys of making the selections for this year’s MQFF has been the discovery that there are so many more stories to tell and that mainstream cinema and TV is only a fraction of what’s out there,” he said.
Economopoulos is also excited to introduce some new additions to the festival’s program, including a music stream focus, Proud and Loud, and new Comedy and Animation shorts packages.
The MQFF 2016 will be sponsored by Film Victoria, and, for the first time in the festival’s history, is supported by the Victorian state government.
This year’s theme is ‘attachment’, and plenty of Aussie talent will be on show, as well as some international acts with films that explore friendships and relationships when surrounded by issues of attraction and acceptance.
Remembering the Man (Australia)
At the heart of this film festival is a moving documentary about the relationship between Timothy Conigrave and his long-term partner John Caleo.
Based on Conigrave’s memoir Holding the Man, the documentary chronicles the journey of two men who fell madly in love at a Melbourne Catholic boys school in the 1970s, and the challenges and intense disapproval they faced throughout their 16 years together.
The film features interviews with close friends and family, as well as rare archival footage of the couple who found themselves suffering the devastating effects of the AIDS virus in Australia.
The filmmakers, Nick Bird and Eleanor Sharpe, will be festival guests.
Closet Monster (USA)
Off the back of its warm reception at the Toronto International Film Festival, director Stephen Dunn’s stylish drama will receive its Australian premiere on April 2.
The film’s protagonist, Oscar (played by Jack Fulton as a boy and Connor Jessup as an adult), is traumatised as a young boy after witnessing a violent attack on a gay teenager. He undergoes a “sexual awakening” with the help of a charismatic new friend, Wilder.
The classic coming of age (and out of the closet) story is twisted imaginatively by Dunn through the blending of gory fantasy sequences with emotionally relatable content, and the inclusion of a talking pet hamster voiced by, of all people, Isabella Rossellini (last seen in Joy).
Portrait of a Serial Monogamist (Canada)
In this smart and authentic Canadian comedy, serial monogamist Elsie (Diane Flacks) believes the key to avoiding a broken heart is to always leave your lover first. Often getting restless in relationships, she has breaking up (and finding a new girlfriend almost right away) down to a fine art.
But, when Elsie breaks up with her long-term girlfriend Robyn (Carolyn Taylor) to pursue the latest hot young thing, she ignites disapproval in her quirky bunch of queer friends, and ultimately sets herself up for a journey of self-discovery. And co-directors/writers Christina Zeidler and John Mitchell take us along for the ride.
The screening of this film on April 1 will be combined with the special film and party event; It’s a Girl Thing. To celebrate women in our community, MQFF will screen Portrait of a Serial Monogamist and your ticket will gain you entry to a night of DJ’s, live entertainment and fun!
The Australian Shorts Package and Awards Night
A festival favourite (selling out each year), the Australian Shorts package showcases the talent of our local queer documentary and film makers.
There will be something for everyone as this year’s films will include a variety of Australian voices. There are awkward neighbourly encounters, schoolyard dramas, sweet romantic comedies, community documentaries, and the story of one gay indigenous male.
All films selected for this program are eligible for a range of awards including the Audience Choice Award for Best Australian Short. This year the eligible films are competing for a total cash prize pool of $9,000.
The screening and awards take place on Sunday, April 10, and you will also be able to vote for your favourite films there.
The Melbourne Queer Film Festival will run from March 31 – April 11 at various locations around Melbourne. For session times, tickets and the full program visit the MQFF official website.