In the words of the immortal Bette Davis, “Don’t let’s ask for the moon, we have the stars,” and that certainly applies to the sensational line-up awaiting audiences at this year’sMelbourne Queer Film Festival (MQFF) which will take place from Thursday 14 March to Monday 25 March, 2019.
Celebrating its 29th season, Australia’s longest-running and largest LGBTIQ+ Film Festival is proudly supported by Principal Partner, City of Melbourne along with Festival Sponsors QUIT Victoria, City of Stonnington, Film Victoria, RMIT University, ME Bank, Crown Metropol, Thorne Harbour Health, Herbert Smith Freehills, Mountain Goat, The Emerson and Chapel Street Precinct.
MQFF is also delighted to have Deakin University as its Educational Partner along with JOY FM and Star Observer as Media Partners.
In 2019 MQFF is spreading its ‘fabulousness’ across Melbourne by screening, for the very first time, at the iconic Jam Factory, courtesy of Village Cinemas, who will join revered, long-standing exhibitors, Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) and Cinema Nova in Carlton, as the event’s official Cinema Partners.
So with 20% more sessions than last year (106, but who’s counting!) MQFF is set to win more hearts, and spread its message of love for the myriad, vibrant hues of the LGBTIQ+ rainbow, than ever before.
Program Director, Spiro Economopoulos, has sourced a superlative cornucopia of local and international contemporary queer cinema resulting in a dazzling line-up of over 141 features, documentaries and shorts, including 9 Australian Premieres, 28 Melbourne Premieres and one lovingly restored classic feature.
“The 2019 edition of MQFF is guaranteed to enthral whilst also casting a keen eye over LGBTIQ+ culture and its fascinating diversity,” said Economopoulos. “With each year, the scope of queer cinema expands, tackling stories and exploring subjects, which may not have been possible in more conservative times. We have truly entered a golden age of movie-making and feel both honoured and excited to be sharing such a thrilling line-up with our audience.”
Enjoying his second term as MQFF’s Chief Executive Officer, Maxwell Gratton has been building the Festival’s reach in preparation for its momentous 30th anniversary in 2020. “This year,” he noted, “we’ve curated the most diverse program in the Festival’s history and thanks to our 3 superbly located venues, which encompass Melbourne’s inner south, inner north and CBD, the Festival can now provide greater access to audiences. Throughout 2019, we also plan to consolidate our regional scope with an ongoing slate of screenings that will allow us to engage with an even bigger audience.”
The Festival’s 29th season will be launched at Village Cinemas Jam Factory by the Australian premiere of Papi Chulo, from Irish director John Butler (Handsome Devil MQFF 2017), which will screen courtesy of Bankside Films. Starring Matt Bomer, this tender romantic comedy tells the story of Shaun, an LA weather man who has a very public meltdown live on-air. Forced to take extended leave, he encounters Mexican migrant worker Ernesto, whom he hires to undertake home repairs. Although barely able to converse in the other’s language, the two men form an unlikely and at times awkward alliance, as we learn that Shaun is still grieving the demise of a recent relationship.
Renowned stand-up comedian Drew Droege’s hilarious one-man show, which has captivated off-Broadway audiences, is the subject of Bright Colors and Bold Patterns, destined to dazzle as the Festival’s centre-piece screening, which will be held at ACMI.
Winner of the Grand Jury Award for Outstanding Performance at L.A. Outfest. Droege takes audiences on a wild ride, portraying a houseguest who has been invited to a gay wedding in Palm Springs. The invitation dissuades guests from wearing ‘bright colors and bold patterns’ which acts as a ‘red rag to a bull’ for the progressively drunk and drugged-up Droege to proudly wave his flamboyant gay flag. This witty and incisive virtuoso performance addresses pertinent issues on internal biases within a community frequently celebrated for inclusivity and diversity and will be presented by Drew Droege who will be a guest of the Festival.
Although it’s a cliché to say that we’re saving ‘the best for last’ we are thrilled to present the Australian premiere of Kristin Stewart and Laura Dern’s powerhouse pairing in Jeremiah Terminator LeRoy which will be our show-stopping Closing Night feature. In this wilder than fiction true account of the infamous literary scam that fooled Hollywood, Stewart plays the androgynous Savannah Knoop who spent six years pretending to be the celebrated male author JT LeRoy, the made-up literary persona of her sister-in-law Laura Albert, played here by the always-brilliant Laura Dern. Also starring Courtney Love, Jim Sturgess and Diane Kruger and directed by Justin Kelly (I Am Michael, King Cobra, MQFF 2017), Jeremiah Terminator LeRoy is a provocative look at the oft-farcical nature of celebrity. The Closing Night of MQFF 2019 will take place at ACMI.
MQFF has long championed the work of emerging queer filmmakers through an ongoing slate of monetary accolades and this year will be giving away circa $50,000 worth of cash prizes and awards, which is an Australian record for an LGBTIQ+ film festival.
Included amongst these distinctions are 7 MQFF Jury Awards, proudly supported by City of Melbourne, Film Victoria, Shaun Miller Lawyers and Blackmagic Design, along with 2 Audience Awards presented by Step Right Up Distribution & Promotion.
2019 will also herald 2 exciting new film initiatives – ‘Pitch Pleez!’ and ‘Keep the Vibe Alive.’
‘Pitch Pleez!’ provides LGBTIQ+ filmmakers with the opportunity to create original content by assisting with the production of a short fiction, documentary or web series pilot that addresses MQFF’s central values of celebrating and showcasing proudly different queer stories in an Australian context.
Finalists will participate in a ‘pitch-off’ event to be held in front of a jury of industry experts and a live audience, scheduled for the afternoon of Sunday 17 March at Roc’s Bar, Village Cinemas Jam Factory. ‘Pitch Pleeze!’ is proudly supported by Matthew Lee and Film Victoria.
Another highpoint of MQFF 2019 is the ‘Keep the Vibe Alive’ short film competition; an incredible opportunity to demonstrate how smoking can often ‘kill the vibe’ in LGBTIQ+ communities, which was created by Quit Victoria in partnership with MQFF, Thorne Harbour Health and Minus 18. (Separate Media Release for “Keep the Vibe Alive” also attached).
Four competition finalists, who each received a $4,000 grant apiece to create their films, were selected from over 40 pitches
Due to the high calibre of entries, two shorts tied for 1st prize – Fuming by Sam McGowan and The Third Wheel by Millie Hayes. Each will receive $4,000 in prize money along with the bonus of seeing their film air before every screening at this year’s Festival.
An impressive 85 local and international short films will be offered this year, with the majority screening across 13 distinct program strands.
Returning as part of this line-up will be Wildings, MQFF’s biennial sidebar of radical and experimental queer moving images, which has been curated by filmmaker Anna Helme and produced in partnership with The University of Melbourne. Joining us from LA will be transgender filmmaker/curator Finn Paul who will host a filmmaker’s workshop and also present the shorts program, Desire and Resistance: Unearthing Trans Legacies, which will screen as part of this sidebar.
Episodic Showcase explores original storytelling via the episodic format, which is proving a stimulating environment for emerging queer voices in which to create innovative personal works redolent with energy. A highlight of this shorts category is Two Weeks from directors Rachel Anderson, Daniel Anderson and Isabel Stanfield, which chronicles the complicated love lives of a 20-something group of LGBTIQ Brisbanites. Season one of Two Weeks will be screened as a feature length presentation.
MQFF favourite, Australian Shorts and Awards returns with 9 films showcasing new and returning talent and tackles a diverse slate of subjects, ranging from a feminist protest in a small country pub, to an escape-bid from an insidious cult. Presented in conjunction with City of Melbourne, all films in this category are eligible for a raft of Awards, which will be announced at the conclusion of this session, slated for the evening of Sunday 25 March at ACMI.
Queer First Nations Shorts is an inaugural shorts category, which celebrates our queer indigenous brothers and sisters by shining a spotlight on several dynamic individuals who are changing the landscape of contemporary music and comedy.
We’re All In This Together is a fascinating, 17-minute hybrid-documentary that relates 5 stories from Melbourne’s queer community and in doing so, creates a snapshot of our collective history. The film’s director, Logan Mucha, will participate in a post-screening Q&A, on Sunday 17 March at ACMI.
Love, in its many, and oft complicated, guises, will be celebrated across 4 shorts categories; Girl On Girl Shorts, Laws of Desire, Guy on Guy Shorts and Hooking Up which collectively boast a captivating selection of short films from countries as far afield as Macedonia, Lebanon, UK, Spain, Canada, USA, Portugal, Denmark, Israel, Colombia, France, Germany and Australia.
Our Comedy Shorts category, features a sparkling collection of 8 films including the whimsical New Zealand short, Repugnant which follows the efforts of Grace to prove that her ‘pray-away-the-gay’ dog therapy works by trying to ‘cure’ Fergis the pug of his homosexuality.
Documentary Shorts is a collection of 6 non-fiction appetizers from Cuba, UK and Australia that reveal what it means to be queer, via bite-sized slices of life, whilst Transformationsintroduces us to a new generation of trans trailblazers who take us on an unforgettable journey ranging from the complexities of drag as a transgender man, to the fraught world of professional wrestling.
Filmed live at the Apollo Theatre in London, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, is a effervescent, multi-award winning musical about 16 year-old Jamie New who dreams of being a drag queen. A Festival highlight, this UK feature will screen as part of Young and Queer, the Festival’s selection of award-winning features and shorts dedicated to exploring gender, sexuality and youth.
Joining MQFF’s previously announced 2019 titles, which included A Kid Like Jake, Daddy Issues, Mario, Rafiki, Tucked and When the Beat Drops, are a host of phenomenal LGBTIQ+ features and documentaries. A few highlights include:
1985 – USA/Feature (Melbourne Premiere)
Director: Yen Tan
It’s Christmas and New York lawyer Adrian returns to his Texan hometown for the first time in three years to reconnect with his conservative, religious parents, and young brother. Not out to his family, Adrian is burdened by the wave of tragedy brought on by HIV/AIDS he’s witnessing first-hand and the reality of an uncertain future.
Allure – Canada/Feature (Australian Premiere)
Directors: Carlos Sanchez & Jason Sanchez
Evan Rachel Wood stars in this dark, psychological drama, as a troubled woman who seeks sexual and emotional fulfillment through a series of failed relationships. Her life changes, however when she befriends and convinces an unhappy sixteen year-old girl (played by Julia Sarah Stone) to run away with her, but it soon becomes clear that there are disturbing power dynamics at play as their friendship morphs into something else.
Anchor and Hope – Spain/Feature
Director: Carlos Marques-Marcet
Eva (Oona Chaplin) and Kat’s (Natalia Tena) carefree, lifestyle in their London canal boat is disrupted when Eva tells Kat that she wants a child. Knowing that it will end their bohemian lifestyle, Kat resists. However when, Kat’s best friend, Roger drops in from Barcelona to party with the ladies, the three of them begin to toy around with the idea of creating a baby.
Buddies – USA/Feature (Melbourne Premiere)
Director: Arthur J. Bressan Jr.
This 1985 first feature-length drama about AIDS, has, until recently, been unavailable. Now MQFF is proud to present a new 2K digital restoration. When David (David Schachter) volunteers to be a ‘buddy’ to an AIDS patient, the gay community centre assigns him to Robert (Geoff Edholm), a politically impassioned gardener abandoned by his friends and lovers. Gradually, David is changed by knowing Robert, and so too are we.
Canary – South Africa/Feature (Melbourne Premiere)
Director: Christiaan Olwagen
Set against the backdrop of apartheid in South Africa this heartfelt drama follows Johan, a shy ‘small town boy’ who finds himself drafted into the military. In this harsh, macho environment he finds an oasis in the Defense Force Church Choir, the Canaries. Through this group of motley men he discovers camaraderie, the liberating freedom of music and eventually love.
Dykes, Camera, Action – USA/Documentary (Melbourne Premiere)
Director: Caroline Berler
A delightful and absorbing documentary about queer female identity and representation in film, which includes a look at activist works of the 1970s such as Barbara Hammer’s experimental films, the boom in lesbian cinema in the 1990s, and the mainstreaming of contemporary queer narratives.
Eva and Candela – Columbia/Feature (Melbourne Premiere)
Director: Ruth Caudell
This sensual and complex love story traces the love lives of two women, a director and her actress, as they traverse the rocky path of love, domesticity and infidelity. Over the course of several years we see their relationship swing from giddy highs to painful truths as they try to find a way back to the passions they once shared creatively and personally.
Making Montgomery Clift – USA/Doco (Melbourne Premiere)
Directors: Robert Anderson Clift, Hillary Demmon
Legend has it that Hollywood matinee idol Montgomery Clift was a tortured figure, who was unable to live with his homosexual desires. These conflicted feelings eventually drove him to drink and an early grave. Co-Directed by his youngest nephew, this fascinating documentary, which incorporates incredible archival footage, goes a long way in correcting this misinformation by presenting us with a keenly intelligent man who was very open about his sexuality and fully in command of his illustrious film career.
Night Comes On – USA/Feature
Director: Jordana Spiro
Angel LaMere is released from juvenile detention on the eve of her 18th birthday. Haunted by her past, she embarks on a journey with her 10 year-old sister that could destroy their future. This riveting award-winning drama is helmed by a commanding performance from lead Dominique Fishback, as a young woman reclaiming her past and learning to love again.
Sauvage – France/Feature (Melbourne Premiere)
Director: Camille Vidal-Naquet
Leo is a young gay sex worker, unaccountable to anyone, who sleeps rough and often puts himself in dangerous situations with his male clients. When he meets another sex worker, a straight Moroccan man, the pull of attraction, intimacy and commitment begin to chip away at his uncompromising lifestyle.
Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood – USA/Doc. (Melb. Premiere)
Director: Matt Tyrnauer
Based on his scandalous, dirt-dishing memoir, Full Service, this eye-opening documentary follows former WW2 Marine Scotty Bowers around Los Angeles as he recounts his wild, sexually explicit exploits during Hollywood’s Golden Age as sexual procurer to the stars.
The Blonde One – Feature/Spain (Melbourne Premiere)
Director: Marco Berger
In this heartfelt story, womanising Juan must quickly find a flat-mate after his brother moves out. In moves Gabriel (the blonde of the title), Juan’s handsome, stoic, recently widowed co-worker, who is struggling to support his young daughter. What starts as a seemingly affable living arrangement soon turns to burgeoning attraction, then full-blown desire.
The Happy Prince – Germany/Feature
Director: Rupert Everett
Written and directed by Rupert Everett, this bittersweet film is the untold story of the last days of the legendary Oscar Wilde. Although wracked by financial and social ruin, this great wit nevertheless retains his incorrigible humor right to the bitter end. Co-starring Colin Firth as best friend Reggie Turner and Emily Watson as Wilde’s unfortunate wife, Constance.
Wild Nights With Emily – USA/Feature
Director: Madeleine Olnek
This multi-award winning and wonderfully droll, contemporary period comedy finally gives poet Emily Dickinson (Molly Shannon) the queer love story she deserves. Highly entertaining and sharply feminist, this film addresses the misconception that Dickenson was a timid, spinster poet and presents us with an Emily, brimming with passion, agency and love for her brother’s wife Susan, the inspiration for her most romantic poems.
In addition to our aforementioned Festival Sponsors and Patrons, MQFF would like to sincerely acknowledge the generous support of all our Presenting Partners and Festival Providers, who help make this event possible.
The 2019 Melbourne Queer Film Festival will run from 14 to 25 March at Village Cinemas Jam Factory, Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACM) and Carlton’s Cinema Nova.
Tickets & Multiple Pass Deals can now be purchased at MQFF’s 3 venues or via the Festival’s website: https://www.mqff.com.au
Alternatively, you can purchase tickets with the official MQFF iPhone or Smartphone App – no printing required – bring your smartphone to be scanned at the door.
MQFF Listing Details:
Event: Melbourne Queer Film Festival 2019
When: Thursday 14 March to Monday 25 March
Venues: Village Cinemas Jam Factory, ACMI and Cinema Nova