Top Picks at the 2017 Melbourne Queer Film Festival

MQFF Women Who Kill Celebrating its 27th year, the Melbourne Queer Film Festival (MQFF) is set to delight, excite, shock and surprise with the most cutting edge queer cinema has to offer from Australia and around the globe. We take a look at 10 films worth checking out:

I Am Michael
ACMI – Thursday 16 March (Australian Premiere)
Based on the fascinating and controversial true-life story of Michael Glatze, a celebrated queer theorist and gay activist who became an anti-gay Christian pastor. James Franco stars as the troubled Glatze, a beacon in the queer community, happily partnered to his architect boyfriend (Zachary Quinto) and the editor of the iconic gay magazine XY. When Michael suffers a mysterious health scare he turns to religion and begins to question his beliefs and sexual orientation, leading him to renounce his gay lifestyle and turn away from his partner and friends. I Am Michael is a compelling and powerful film that will leave you talking.

The Pass
ACMI – Friday 17 March / Cinema Nova – Sunday 26 March (Melbourne Premiere)
Adapted by John Donnelly from his own acclaimed play, The Pass stars Russell Tovey as a closeted soccer player in this absorbing film about the destructive effect of homophobia in sport. Nineteen- year-old Jason and Ade have been football prodigies since they were eight years old. While sharing a hotel room the night before their first Champions League match, they do everything we imagine footballers in hotel rooms do, wrestle, talk about girls and boast. And then Jason kisses Ade. The impact of this ‘pass’ echoes through the next 10 years of both their lives: a decade of fame and failure, secrets and lies, in a sporting world where image is everything and telling the truth can be a step too far.

Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four
ACMI – Saturday 18 March (Melbourne Premiere)
After being wrongfully convicted of gang-raping two little girls during the Satanic Panic witch-hunt era of the 80s and 90s, four Latina lesbians fight against homophobia and prosecutorial fervor in their struggle for exoneration. This riveting and powerful documentary begins inside a Texas prison, where the women have spent nearly a decade behind bars. Using home video footage from 21 years ago combined with recent verité footage and intimate interviews, director Deborah S. Esquenazi eventually takes on the role of investigator along with attorneys at the Innocence Project, helping these women on their long road to justice.

Taekwondo
ACMI – Saturday 18 March (Melbourne Premiere)
Following the success of MQFF audience favourites Plan B, Absent and Hawaii, Marco Berger continues his assent to queer auteur status with Taekwondo. For his latest effort, Berger has teamed up to co-direct with fellow Argentinian Martín Farina – a cinematographer with a penchant for a voyeuristic gaze. In this ‘will they, won’t they’ drama, we have the sweet Fernando hosting a summer getaway for his often-naked friends, including Germán, a shy teammate from his taekwondo class. Full to the brim of lingering close ups Taekwondo tantalises with its homoerotic depiction of male bonding.

Asia Pacific Shorts
ACMI – Saturday 18 March
This year MQFF is thrilled to be joining 14 queer film festivals from the Asia Pacific region to form the Asia Pacific Queer Film Festival Alliance (APQFFA). The Alliance promotes communication amongst festivals, stimulates production and enhances the visibility of queer cinema. MQFF have curated a program of shorts pulled together from a shared pool of films that represent the best of the region. The Threshold & That’s My Boy are courtesy of KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival.

Suited
ACMI – Sunday 19 March
Bindle & Keep is a Brooklyn tailoring company catering to an LGBTIQ clientele, creating custom-made suits for gender-nonconforming and trans* clients. Rae and Daniel take a holistic approach to their work, considering each client’s personal narrative, which becomes inextricable from the creation of the perfect suit. From Derek’s emotional journey as he prepares for his wedding, to Everett, a law student in a conservative environment, or Mel, who simply wants to look good for their 40th birthday party — the need for well-fitting garments represents deeper meaning around identity and empowerment. Suited takes a modern look at gender through the conduit of clothing, while illuminating the emotional and personal experience.

Being 17
ACMI – Monday 20 March
Most mothers, when their son is being bullied, come down hard on the perpetrator. Not so Marianne (the extraordinary Sandrine Kiberlain) – she invites her son’s antagonist to stay for the winter. The thing is, gangly Damien (Kacey Mottet Klein) and adopted farm boy, Tom (Corentin Fila), have as many sparks flying as fists. Being 17 is a startling collaboration between two of France’s queer heavyweights, directors André Téchiné (Wild Reeds) and Céline Sciamma (Girlhood), who is on board here as co-writer. Together they deliver a blistering examination of nascent masculinity, one that captures the fire of young men like few films in recent memory.

Pulse
ACMI – Thursday 23 March
Mixing sexuality and teen angst with an undercurrent of sci-fi, this bold fantasy follows a gay disabled teen who undergoes a mysterious procedure that gives him the body of a young able-bodied woman in order to pursue his love object. Exploring how our bodies shape who we are and how we are perceived, Pulse is a modern day parable for the young, the queer, the disabled and for anyone who has ever struggled with their sexuality, their desires, and essentially, themselves. MQFF are excited to be screening this debut feature from writer/actor Daniel Monks & director Stevie Cruz-Martin (Marrow, MQFF 2016) as the Centrepiece presentation.

The Nest
ACMI – Sunday 26 March (Melbourne Premiere)
Nineteen-year-old Bruno has deserted the army to track down his long-lost brother in the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre. He meets a group of queer kids and with wide-eyed abandon discovers the secrets of the city, joining in their life of dancing and parties. When he visits a nearby beach to uncover the whereabouts of his brother, Bruno discovers life’s not all wine and roses, and time is running out before he needs to return to the army. A four-part Brazilian TV series, The Nest celebrates the joys of discovery and the pleasures of newfound friends.

Women Who Kill
ACMI – Sunday 26 March (Melbourne Premiere)
Brooklynites Morgan (Ingrid Jungermann) and her ex, Jean (Ann Carr) are true crime podcasters obsessed with female serial killers. As Morgan plunges into a new relationship with the beautiful and mysterious Simone (Sheila Vand) from the local food co-op, Jean’s jealousy leads her to investigate. As suspicions emerge, together they ask, could Simone be a murderer or is Morgan just afraid of what it means to be in a relationship? Writer/Director Ingrid Jungermann challenges modern relationship fears of intimacy and commitment in this dark comedic psychological thriller.

The 2017 Melbourne Queer Film Festival runs 16 – 27 March. For more information, visit: www.mqff.com.au for details.

Image: Women Who Kill

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