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Mardi Gras Film Festival: Embrace Your Story

Queer Screen is asking us to embrace our stories with its Mardi Gras Film Festival this year.


Eva Candela

“It’s so important for us to see our own story shared on screen and equally as important to explore and understand the stories of others,” explains Queer Screen Festival Director Lisa Rose. “And with this program we are owning and exploring where we stand as individuals and as a community – both here and across the world.”


The brilliance and the challenges of being queer will be highlighted in a powerful fusion of LGBTIQ+ characters, stories and filmmakers from all over world in a festival that increasingly gives voice to the members of our own communities who are not usually centre stage.


“The calibre of films being produced globally has allowed us to broaden our inclusive focus even more,” says Rose.  


The closing night film, Rafiki, is on point. A bold and powerful story about young lesbian love in conservative Nairobi, it was banned in its home country, where homosexuality is still illegal. The film's director, Wanuri Kahiu, sued Kenya's government for the ban to be overturned.


Film festivals like those produced by Queer Screen are here for the community and here for filmmakers like Wanuri Kahiu.  “We’re here for films that are being made by the LGBTIQ community for the LGBTIQ community,” says Rose. “More films with LGBTIQ characters and subjects are making it to the mainstream but there is so much more out there that doesn't make it there.  Authentic, enriching and diverse stories from all parts of the world.”


Rose is all about seeing LGBTQI films – even the mainstream ones like The Favourite, which is also part of the festival – with an LGBTQI audience. “It's a completely different experience. It’s an enhanced and shared experience.”


The Favourite is one of the most buzz worthy films of the year. It's already screened in theatres, but it deserves to be seen with an audience filled with LGBTIQ people who will get all the jokes and the nuances,” she says. “I saw it in an audience of mostly straight people, and I swear only a third of the audience got it.  Seeing it with a queer audience will be a completely different experience. I can't wait!”


In a similar vein, the Festival’s program of queer films deserves a big screen experience as much as they command a queer audience experience. This includes the always-popular Lesbian Shorts package and a potential new hit, Feminist Shorts (which was actually inspired by the number of high quality intersectional short films around this year).


Juck (Thrust) from Sweden is one such film and was a major catalyst for the package.  It is truly unique and really should be seen on the big screen. And Suitable was one of the best shorts I saw this year, but as the story unfolds it became clear that it was a perfect fit for a feminist package, as it is all about identify and gender expression and what society assumes lesbians look like.”


If you’re game, another new addition to the program is Queer Scream – a package of short horror films. The short film competition My Queer Career is of course returning and there’s a very compelling QueerDoc Shorts package too.


All up, the Festival boasts 54 feature-length films and 66 short films across 70 sessions in Event Cinemas George Street and venues across Sydney from 13 to 28 February 2019.


Highlights of the Festival will then tour Canberra, Parramatta, Lismore, Newcastle and the Blue Mountains in March and April.


Tickets are now on sale at queerscreen.org.au

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