With the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras to be celebrated in early March, the not for profit Queer Screen and it’s Festival Director Paul Struthers appeared dedicated to showcase A-grade films in 2014. After boasting what is called the “best LGBTIQ films being made in Australia today, and from around the world”, the annual Mardi Gras Film Festival comes to a close in coming days after an incredibly successful run.
Opening with the acclaimed Brazilian biographical film Reaching For The Moon, starring Australian actress Miranda Otto and depicting the love story between American poet Elizabeth Bishop and Brazilian architect Lota de Macedo Soares, sold out well before the opening.
Featuring films direct from Sundance Film Festival and the Berlin International Film Festival, Struthers commented that the standard of films was high. “This year’s line up is really strong. We have 19 Australian premieres and 5 international premieres.”
Speaking of Australian queer films, Struthers said they are in a good place. “Our 5 world premieres are all Australian films. One feature film is Zoe.Misplaced, which was filmed around Newtown and is about the trials and tribulations of discovering she’s a lesbian. There’s another one set in Melbourne called Submerge. There’s Friends Of Dorothy about Sydney from the 1960s to now.”
A large group of the films, including Zoe.Misplaced and Reaching For The Moon were sold out well before screening, showing the huge audience interested in watching the new films. Highlights included Test, Snails In The Rain, Pit Stop, Out In The Line-Up, My Queer Career, Mr. Angel, Gentophilia and the highly acclaimed 52 Tuesdays, among others.
“People are taking risks and that means excellent films,” Struthers alleges of contemporary queer cinema, but still says that it hasn’t broken into the mainstream. “The time will come when being gay is seen as normal and maybe then these films will be seen more than once a year in groups.”
After Queer Space hosting the festival for over 20 years, the success of the event has kept it going as well as its importance in the celebration of the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. “Films are the most accessible art form; to educate, to inspire, to entertain. It’s especially important for young people who are trying to come to terms with their sexuality, for example G.B.F. and Geography Club which are both set in high schools, highlight being gay and being young,” said Struthers.
With the Mardi Gras going strong into its 36th year, it seems like Gay and Lesbian people are being more accepted in Sydney society, according to Struthers. And with the number of people reported to attend the pride parade in two weeks, it’s looking like this may be the future.
Originally published in Aphra Magazine, February 20, 2014.
Watch the trailer for Reaching For The Moon below: