The 33rd annual Melbourne Queer Film Festival (MQFF) commences on Thursday 9 November with the provocation, Rewind to Fast Forward.
The festival celebrates all queer histories, past, present and future, informing the now and shaping the future. Alongside a stream of historical titles throughout the program such as La Cage Aux Folles, Glen or Glenda, Head On and Offside, MQFF presents a joyous and uplifting array of new films.
MQFF audiences can expect a prime selection of local and international drama, comedy, documentary, and everything in between. The program features 50 feature films and 17 documentaries, 11 short film packages, 3 world premieres, 26 Australian premieres and 19 Victorian premieres.
“This year’s fabulous program will bring the community together to celebrate queer film, our diverse stories, and voices,” said David Martin Harris, MQFF CEO. “There are so many stories from across the globe that share important messages, whether that be heart-warming, uplifting, hilarious, or inspirational – the program will connect audiences for a celebration like no other.”
MQFF 2023 will open with a hyper-camp bang at the iconic Astor Theatre on Thursday 9 November, with the Australian premiere of I Love You, Beksman, (2022, Philippines). This coming-out story gets a fabulous Filipinx makeover in director Perci M. Intalan’s hilarious, high-camp and heartfelt inverted rom-com.
The Festival’s Centrepiece Presentation on Thursday 16 November is the Victorian premiere of Marinette (2023, France), which tells the story of Marinette Pichon, one of the world’s most influential women’s soccer players and a French lesbian icon. In this compelling rags-to-riches biopic, we follow her stop-start rise to prominence as one of the greatest players ever to grace a soccer pitch.
The Festival closes on Sunday 19 November, with the Australian premiere of Solo (2023, Canada), a drag-drama about skilled make-up artist, Simon (rising star The?odore Pellerin) who is a mainstay by night of Montreal’s exuberant drag scene. He hooks up with the charismatic Olivier (Fe?lix Maritaud), a French drag artiste who becomes his partner on and off stage.
Melbourne Queer Film Festival Program highlights include:
Housekeeping for beginners
(2023, North Macedonia, Sweden, Kosovo, Poland, Serbia, Croatia) This year’s Queer Lion winner at Venice and North Macedonia’s Oscar candidate is the third feature from outstanding Melbourne-based filmmaker, Goran Stolevski, director of 2022’s Of an Age and You Won’t Be Alone. A boisterous, cinema verite-style dramedy set in a makeshift queer household in Skopje, subject to constant, farcical comings and goings of queer and Romani folk galore. Victorian premiere.
When tween-aged Minato starts to behave strangely, his mother, Saori, suspects the school has something to do with it. Saori begins a campaign to expose Hori’s problematic teaching practices, but Minato and his newest friend have a different tale to tell. Yet as the story unfolds nothing is as it seems. Acclaimed director Hirokazu Koreeda tenderly brings to life Yuji Sakamoto’s layered screenplay and features legendary composer Ryuichi Sakamoto’s final screen work before his death. Awarded Best Screenplay and the Queer Palm at Cannes this year.
Coming out isn’t always easy, even in a big city like Melbourne. Writer/director Gabriel Carrubba’s semi- autobiographical debut feature explores the challenges at play in a working-class suburb on the outer edges of the train line. Liam Mollica plays 17-year-old Greek-Italian highschooler Leo, crushing on his best mate Boof but unable to tell him how he really feels in this delicate coming-of-ager that doesn’t shy away from the harsher realities still too often at play.
All Of Us Strangers
Adam, a listless screenwriter (Andrew Scott, Fleabag’s “hot priest”) and Harry (Aftersun’s Paul Mescal) seem to be the only tenants of a Ballardian London high-rise. A burgeoning relationship between them lifts Adam’s spirits. He takes to visiting his childhood home where his parents (Claire Foy and Jamie Bell) are there to greet him, surely not a day older than when they died tragically in Adam’s youth, in the mid-‘80s. Described by Indiewire’s David Ehrlich as a “nuclear-grade tearjerker.” Victorian premiere.
Isla is a feisty, stubborn and resilient octogenarian who lives with Susan, who is a lesbian. But Isla won’t be pigeonholed, instead calling herself “a widow”. Refusing to relinquish her passion for horse driving carriages, Isla remains active in her community no matter her age, even as the naysayers insist her time to slow down has come. A quirky new Aussie documentary feature, Isla’s Way observes an indomitable woman, community elder and miniature horse lover. Victorian premiere.
Iranian women soccer fans travel to a World Cup qualifier match in Tehran despite it being illegal for them to be spectators by disguising themselves as boys. Will they be able to fool the guards? Jafar Panahi’s Offside is one of the most charming and poignant sports films ever made, a telling reminder of the power of sport to connect us. The film took home the Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize from the 2006 Berlinale.
Penelope Cruz may be fabulous in ‘70s fashion but newcomer Luana Giuliani is the real star of the show, magnificently depicting young trans teenager Adri, confidently asserting himself in a world that does not fully understand. A heartfelt ode to Italian director Emanuele Crialese’s personal history, having announced that he is a trans man at last year’s Venice Film Festival, this luminous film was nominated for both the Queer and the Golden Lion. Victorian premiere.
“MQFF is set to take Melbourne by storm this November with a powerful program, filled to the brim with some of the best local and international cinema. VicScreen is proud to be a longstanding partner of the festival, which is renowned for amplifying local voices and phenomenal stories,” said Caroline Pitcher, VicScreen CEO.
MQFF venue partners include The Astor Theatre, The Capitol, Palace Cinemas – The Kino, Village Cinemas Jam Factory, Cinema Nova, and the Victorian Pride Centre Rooftop, where MQFF will be holding an outdoor cinema.
The 2023 Melbourne Queer Film Festival (MQFF) runs 9 – 19 November. For more information and full program, visit: www.mqff.com.au for details.
Image: I Love You, Beksman (supplied)