Written for Frooty Magazine, issue #14, published 09 February 2022.
Queer Screen Mardi Gras Film Festival returns for its 29th year with a whopping 119 films from 37 countries. The festival will screen films at Events Cinema in George Street, Parramatta, and Hurtsville, as well as special ‘one night only’ screenings at Hayden Orpheum in Cremorne, before touring the Blue Mountains and Canberra in March. Yet the bulk of its content will also be available to watch from home, as Queer Screen’s director Lisa Rose explains:
“It’s exciting to do our own hybrid festival again with cinema screenings and on-demand components. Over 60% of our program is available for people to watch on-demand, with a variety of films from documentaries to shorts, major features, and exotics, that cover a diverse range of stories, people, and identities. We want people to enjoy our films whether they’re coming into the cinema or watching from the comfort of their home.
“I’m looking forward to the fact that we’re doing a First Nations Focus, as well as a panel on queer, First Nations stories. It’s an intersection we don’t get to see as often as we’d like in LGBTIQ+ film festivals; so it’s exciting that we’re not only opening the festival with it, but have a narrative centerpiece, a documentary, and an episodic all on First Nations stories.”
Opening night film ‘Wildhood’ is predicted to be the festival’s best-seller. It follows a Canadian two-spirit teen, Link, as he seeks out his birth mother in order to escape an abusive, white father and reclaim his Mi’kmaw heritage. It’s been described as a coming-of-age narrative exploring themes of community, identity, and kinship, and will have a second festival screening the following Saturday.
“‘Querencia’ is a fantastic series from a young, queer woman in Canada (Mary Galloway). It’s not something I’ve seen before: a romantic comedy about two indigiqueer women who meet at very different points in their lives in terms of connection to culture and identity, but also in terms of where they are in acceptance of their sexuality.”
‘Wildhood’ and the entire first season of ‘Querencia’ will screen as part of the festival’s First Nations Focus alongside ‘Finlandia’ and ‘Pure Grit’. More details on the Queer Screens website.
“I’m also excited about our other program statement: ‘Rebels With A Cause’. The festival’s themed around the queer frontier and recognising people who’ve created space for both themselves and us as a community—who’ve been able to forge their own path. We want to celebrate them by inviting people to explore the queer frontier with us.
“We’re doing a retrospective screening of the film ‘Bound’ from the Wachowskis. It was twenty-five years ago that the festival opened with ‘Bound’, so it’s exciting that we’re bringing it back to the big screen. We’re screening it straight after ‘Rebel Dykes’: a fantastic documentary in the ‘Rebel With A Cause’ program about radical women in 1980s Thatcher London. We hope people dress in their best leather outfits: there’ll be prizes for best dressed.
Meanwhile, Lisa says their fastest seller since announcing the program has been Peeter Rebane’s ‘Firebird’: a story following two Soviet men who fall in love during their military service, set against the backdrop of the Cold War.
“People will also connect with our closing night film ‘B-Boy Blues’, which will be its
Australian premiere. It’s adapted from a seminal novel by James Earl Hardy about the African-American, gay male experience. It’s quite sexy and fun, while having some dramatic moments as well.”
Patrons can access on-demand content by signing up for a free account via their website. Queer Screen members will receive further discounts on both in-person and on-demand ticket prices. Visit queerscreen.org.au for details on session times.