Celebrating its 29th season, Melbourne Queer Film Festival (MQFF) has announced its dazzling line-up of over 141 features, documentaries and shorts, including 9 Australian Premieres, 28 Melbourne Premieres and one lovingly restored classic feature, that will screen across Melbourne this March.
“The 2019 edition of MQFF is guaranteed to enthral whilst also casting a keen eye over LGBTIQ+ culture and its fascinating diversity,” said Program Director, Spiro 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.”
The Festival’s 29th season will be launched at Village Cinemas Jam Factory by the Australian premiere of Papi Chulo. Directed by John Butler (Handsome Devil, MQFF 2017) and 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 and is destined to dazzle as the Festival’s centre-piece screening at ACMI.
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.
Winner of the Grand Jury Award for Outstanding Performance at Outfest Los Angeles, 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.
Closing the festival will be the Australian premiere of Kristen Stewart and Laura Dern’s powerhouse pairing in Jeremiah Terminator LeRoy. Directed by Justin Kelly (I Am Michael, King Cobra, MQFF 2017), the film is a provocative look at the oft-farcical nature of celebrity.
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.
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:
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. (Australian Premiere)
Directed by 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. (Melbourne Premiere)
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. (Melbourne Premiere)
Dykes, Camera, Action:
Directed by Caroline Berler, this delightful and absorbing documentary about queer female identity and representation in film 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. (Melbourne Premiere)
Eva and Candela:
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. (Melbourne Premiere)
Making Montgomery Clift:
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 (Robert Anderson Clift) with Hillary Demmon, 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. (Melbourne Premiere)
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. (Melbourne Premiere)
Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood:
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. (Melbourne Premiere)
The Happy Prince:
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.
An impressive 85 local and international short films will be offered this year, with the majority screening across 13 distinct program strands. 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.
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.
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.
The 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 Transformations introduces 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.
The 2019 Melbourne Queer Film Festival (MQFF) will be presented at the Jam Factory, Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) and Cinema Nova in Carlton from Thursday 14 March to Monday 25 March 2019. For more information and full program, visit: www.mqff.com.au for details.
Image: Jeremiah Terminator LeRoy (supplied)