by GREG KING
LAST UPDATED MARCH 3, 2014
On his Movies At Dusk program, Sundays from 7-9pm on 3WBC 94.1FM, Greg King spoke to the festivals artistic director Lisa Daniel. click on the link below:
The annual Melbourne Queer Film Festival (MQFF) has launched its 24th program announcing the full program of 162 films and events on offer at the 2014 festival.
Celebrating and exploring queer in all its forms, this year’s Festival slate will once again showcase the best of GLBTI contemporary cinema from Australia and around the world, with many films having made their mark on the international film festival circuit. The largest film festival of its kind in Australia, MQFF will run for 12 days from 13 March, with films screening at Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Hoyts Melbourne Central and LOOP Bar.
“The MQFF is excited to be presenting such an outstanding selection of films this year, having had over 700 to choose from. And to add to an already packed program, the MQFF is also bursting at the seams with other events like our Film Industry Day and gen2gen Community Film Project for aspiring filmmakers”, said Festival Director Lisa Daniel. The Festival will kick off in style with the highly anticipated Any Day Now from director Travis Fine. Set against the backdrop of the 1970s and inspired by a true story, Any Day Now is an emotionally powerful tale of love and acceptance which follows a gay couple’s fight to adopt a neglected boy with Down syndrome. With outstanding performances from Alan Cumming and Garret Dillahunt Any Day Now is the winner of over 10 Film Festival Audience Awards.
Eleven days later the Festival will close with Reaching for the Moon, the sophisticated and passionate tale of an unlikely romance between Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Elizabeth Bishop (Miranda Otto) and renowned architect Lota de Macedo Soares (Glória Pires). Winner of the Audience Award at both Frameline and L.A. Outfest LGBT Film Festivals, this film from Academy Award nominated filmmaker Bruno Barreto is an erotically charged and vibrant tale of two taboo-breaking women.
Marking the halfway point of the Festival, this year’s Centrepiece Presentations include: Gerontophilia, a delicate depiction of cross-generational romance from the normally controversial Canadian filmmaker Bruce LaBruce and the Australian Premiere of Bad Hair, an astute and powerful story of a boy and his embittered single mother, which won the Best Film prize at the prestigious San Sebastián Film Festival.
MQFF audiences are in for a treat with an exceptional collection of Special Presentations, including the 20th anniversary screening of the iconic The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and a screening of the remastered 1961 film Victim – one of the first films to address Homophobia head-on. Check out Lee Gambin’s queer reading of Hollywood cartoons such as Bugs Bunny and The Lion King in Such Intersssssting Lives, and celebrate the 10th anniversary screening of The Tasty Bust Reunion documentary (20 years after the event), which will be followed by a panel discussing the changes that have transpired for the GLBTI community and the police over the past two decades.
Australia’s creative talents are featured in a special sneak preview of the highly anticipated 52 Tuesdays, the extraordinary directorial debut feature from Sophie Hyde. Shot every Tuesday for 52 consecutive weeks, the film follows the story of 16-year-old Billie whose life takes an unexpected turn when her single mother reveals plans to gender transition. With a mesmerising performance from Tilda Cobham-Hervey, 52 Tuesdays was selected for this year’s Berlin Film Festival and is the winner of the World Dramatic Directing Award Sundance Film Festival 2014, and the award for Best Film in the Generations 14 section. Book early for this one as cast and crew will be in attendance, and it will only screen once.
The Special Presentations continue on 22 March at ACMI when the MQFF will host the inaugural Queer, Camera, Action! – a MQFF Industry Day that will kick off at midday with a selection of industry panellists exploring three aspects of queer filmmaking: Writing, Financing and Distribution. The discussions will be followed by the Community Film Project: Screening and Q&A, which will be the first screening of the six new documentaries produced during MQFF by three teams of older and younger first time filmmakers from the gen2gen Project. Then join the project creator and writer/director mentor, Grant Scicluna, in a conversation with all of the participants, followed by Film Industry Networking Drinks at the Festival Lounge where you’ll have the chance to debrief and schmooze!
Delving back into the film program there is a wealth of award-winning features straight from the international film festival circuit including the visually stunning Five Dances from writer/director Alan Brown, which offers a sensual glimpse of life and first love in the downtown contemporary dance world; Pitstop is the highly praised new film from director Yen Tan (Ciao, MQFF 09) which depicts a series of characters living in small-town Texas, among them two lost gay men in their mid-30s; and don’t miss the opportunity to see Nepal’s first lesbian feature film – the beautiful and critically acclaimed Soonagava – Dance of the Orchids.
Lighten up your days with a fabulous selection of award-winning films including the Australian Premiere of the dryly absurdist comedy Matterhorn (Best film winner at the prestigious Rotterdam international Film Festival 2013), the feature debut from well-known comedian Diederik Ebbinge; Who’s Afraid of Vagina Wolf?, which follows 40-year-old Anna as she recruits her mates to help create her dream feature film featuring a cast of lesbian icons (Tammy Lynn Michaels, Guinevere Turner, Carrie Preston); and the unabashedly provocative and visually exquisite debut from director Yann Gonzalez, You and the Night is without doubt the queerest film in the MQFF program and one you won’t want to miss!
Other feature film highlights include the Australian Premiere of Burning Blue, an intense and emotional drama which exposes the modern day witch-hunts that still exist in many conservative organisations; the hilarious teen comedy, G.B.F, will delight audiences with its pumping soundtrack and gaymazing assemble cast including Will & Grace’s Megan Mullally and Harry Potter’s Evanna Lynch; and check out the fascinating road movie Noor, which follows Shagiq (Noor), a headstrong transgender man who no longer feels part of Pakistan’s transgender community the Khusras.
There’s a strong documentary contingent in this year’s festival too – the Australian Premiere of the multi-award winning Bridegroom, a tragic love story that brings the importance of marriage equality into the spotlight. Plus there’s Mr Angel which chronicles the life and times of transgender porn pioneer and activist Buck Angel; and Born This Way offers a vivid and poetic portrait of day-to-day life in Cameroon, where there are more arrests for homosexuality than any other country in the world.
The MQFF also houses 16 neatly packaged shorts programs: check out Transformations, a fabulous package of trans* docs; Oz Docs and Oz Shorts will showcase the talents of local documentary makers and filmmakers; there’s an excellent collection of international lesbian and gay short films in Short & Girly and Short & Burly; Boobtube presents an array of lesbian short films from around the globe and Cocktales is the latest and greatest collection of gay shorts; Femme Fatalities is a quirky collection of lesbian shorts; while Sex Drives & Videotapes is an eclectic package which explores the many sides of the gay male sex drive; Identities is a collection of great trans* themed shorts guaranteed to entertain and enlighten; and enjoy Mixtape – the ‘best of’ package of shorts from this year’s festival. Younger audiences can explore gender and sexuality issues in the four programs of The Queeries shorts. Plus this year the perennial favourite Celluloid Casserole returns to LOOP with a deliciously eclectic menu of new Australian shorts.
For the first time this year the MQFF Festival Lounge will take over the trendy and relaxing space of Optic Kitchen + Bar. Drop in for a coffee, alcoholic beverage or a delicious bite to eat and check out some the special events on offer including DJ’s, networking and gay bingo! Festival Lounge Opening Hours – Wednesday to Saturday 8am – 1am and Sunday to Tuesday 8am – 11am. Check mqff.com.au/festivallounge for the full event listing and more information.
TICKETS NOW ON SALE
For more information on the full program visit mqff.com.au Stay in touch with Facebook, twitter or subscribe to our e-news and be first in the know
WHAT: 24th Melbourne Queer Film Festival
WHEN: Thursday 13 – Monday 24 March 2014
WHERE: ACMI, Federation Square, Hoyts Melbourne Central and Loop Bar
MORE INFO: www.mqff.com.au
All reviews by GREG KING.
Last year we had the powerful documentary Bully from Lee Hirsch, which looked at the insidious issue of bullying in American high schools and its impact. While it took a broad perspective on the complex issue, this new documentary from first time filmmaker Marta Cunningham takes a narrower focus, but is just as disturbing and revealing. In 2008 in the small Californian coastal town of Oxnard, 14-year old student Brandon McInerney shot and killed a fellow student Larry King. The effeminate King had been experimenting with his sexuality and was often teased by his fellow students. But when he made a Valentine’s joke at McInerney’s expense, the boy brought a gun to school and shot him. McInerney is serving a 21 year sentence for the crime, but the film depicts him as much of victim of society as he is a killer by exploring his background and his dysfunctional upbringing. Valentine Road is a character study of the two boys – the killer and his victim – and it explores their backgrounds and gives us insight into their troubled lives, finding some surprising common ground. The film also touches upon some serious issues, such as the flawed American legal system, its out of control gun culture, bigotry and intolerance, racism, its unforgiving attitude towards homosexuality, and even dysfunctional families. Cunningham has gone into a community still divided and bearing the scars of the horrible events for this moving account of a an American tragedy. She tries to remain balanced and non-judgmental in her approach, but it is obvious where her sympathies lie. She is compassionate and understanding, and has gained the trust of the community who open up about the tragedy. There is plenty of archival footage and news reports, as well as candid interviews with family, friends, teachers, lawyers and the police themselves which are very revealing. This is a complex issue and a powerful documentary that raises some disturbing questions.
THE ADVENTURES OF PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT.
MQFF are holding a special 20th anniversary screening of this Aussie queer classic. Movies are meant to be fun, and few films have been as uninhibitedly enjoyable as this crowd pleasing road movie with a unique and outrageous perspective. Three Sydney drag queens head off to Alice Springs for a four week cabaret engagement, but rather than fly they decide to travel across country in a beaten-up, second hand, garishly lavender coloured bus which they christen Priscilla. It is a journey of discovery in which the three not only learn more about each other but they also experience the good, the bad and the ugly side of Australian society. There are some serious undertones about tolerance and understanding here, but writer/director Stephan Elliot tries not to lecture his audience. The film is full of infectious humour, sparkling dialogue laced with bitchy putdowns and snappy one-liners delivered with verve and spirit. Elliot has managed to draw superb performances from his trio of stars who relish their characters and the opportunities afforded them by the breezy script. Brian Breheny’s camera work is superb and captures the harsh beauty of the outback, giving the film a rich surface beauty. And the upbeat soundtrack is dominated by a number of daggy, almost forgotten songs from the halcyon days of the disco era, but the comfortably suit the mood and the camp flavour of this offbeat comedy.