Melbourne Queer Film Festival announces new Program Director

MQFF-Program-Director-Cerise-Howard-and-Chief-Executive-Officer-David-Martin-Harris-photo-by-Cory-WhiteMelbourne Queer Film Festival (MQFF) has announced the appointment of Cerise Howard as the new Program Director for the festival.

Hailing from Aotearoa New Zealand, Cerise is a seasoned film festival professional, having co-founded and directed the Czech and Slovak Film Festival of Australia and co-founded tilde: Melbourne Trans and Gender Diverse Film Festival. Cerise identifies as a non-binary trans woman.

In addition to her festival experience, Cerise is a widely published writer and commentator on film, gender, and sexuality. She has been a Studio Leader at RMIT University for five years, where she specialises in interrogating the shortcomings of the canon and incubating film festivals. She has also served on the International Jury Board of the East-West: Golden Arch Awards, celebrating Eurasian cinema, for its three editions to date.

Cerise is excited to join the MQFF team and contribute her expertise to the festival’s programming. “I’m deeply honoured to be taking on this role, to build upon the sterling work of my esteemed predecessors and to spearhead the programming of such a vital mainstay of our film and queer cultural landscape,” she said.

“MQFF has been at the vanguard of queer film festivity for over three decades, and I’m tremendously excited to work with the team to showcase the very best in contemporary, forward-looking and historically significant queer cinema.”

Cerise will join MQFF Chief Executive Officer, David Martin Harris, (they/them) and the festival team, leading the programming for the 33rd festival – which will run from 9 to 20 November 2023.

MQFF CEO David Martin Harris welcomed Cerise’s appointment: “It’s fair to say that Cerise lives and breathes film festival culture. We’re overjoyed to have such an accomplished artistic mind join the organisation – which will undoubtedly bring forth a new era in programming for MQFF,” they said.

MQFF Co-Presidents Gail Veal (she/her) and David Micallef (he/him) have similarly welcomed the appointment on behalf of the MQFF board: “Cerise brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to MQFF, and we’re excited to have her on board as our new Program Director,” said Gail Veal.

“Her commitment to celebrating and championing underrepresented voices in cinema aligns perfectly with MQFF’s mission, and we can’t wait to see the exciting direction that Cerise and David will take the festival,” said David Micallef.

Cerise officially assumed her role as Program Director on 15 May 2023. For more information about the Melbourne Queer Film Festival, visit: for details.

Image: MQFF Program Director Cerise Howard and Chief Executive Officer David Martin Harris – photo by Cory White