Now in its eighth year, the 2020 Queer Screen Film Fest comes to you! Available on more screens than ever, this year’s Festival goes online and on demand this September. Comprising over 40 feature films, documentaries and shorts – 90 percent of the festival can be accessed by LGBTIQ+ communities and allies anywhere in Australia for 11 days from Thursday 17 September 2020.
Festival Director Lisa Rose says the program includes 29 Australian premieres and is the perfect antidote to coronavirus restrictions. “This festival, we get to queer up screens and devices around the nation. Join us from the comfort and safety of your own home and escape to another queer time, another queer place. A whole world of queer stories awaits,” she says.
Welcome the return of the warm weather with Cicada and Cocoon – both of which are set in the northern hemisphere summertime. Fresh from its world premiere in August, Cicada follows Ben as he bounces through hot and steamy New York, from one hook up to the next, until he meets Sam.
Cocoon follows 14-year-old Nora as she traipses through Berlin after her big sister during the long and languid summer holidays, watching and wondering why she doesn’t fit in – until she meets Romy. The film premiered at Berlinale this year and is screening for the first time in Australia with Queer Screen.
Set against the twinkling lights of West Hollywood, Breaking Fast is a romantic comedy about Mo, a practicing Muslim, who is pleasantly surprised when Kal, an all-American guy, offers to join him in his nightly Iftars (the traditional meal eaten to break the fast during Ramadan). The film aimed to be the first of its kind to feature a practicing Muslim character who is gay and not dealing with those two things in conflict, but rather, in harmony!
Cool off with Moonlit Winter, an exquisite slow-burn film set in snowy Hokkaido in Japan. South Korean teenager Sae-bom intercepts a letter to her mother that hints at a yearning secret love. She plans a holiday for her mother and surreptitiously arranges a reunion. Moonlit Winter closed the prestigious Busan International Film Festival last year and is also having its Australian premiere during QSFF20.
From award winning director Philippe Faucon, Proud is a powerful and moving three-part miniseries about Charles, Victor and Diego – three generations of the same French family. Both epic and intimate, Proud is an engrossing and superbly acted depiction of how political and societal attitudes change over the years, as do families and their relationships.
Gossamer Folds, which recently had its world premiere at Geena Davis’ Bentonville Film Festival, is a heart-warming tale about families of origin and the friends who become family. Ten year-old Tate strikes up an unlikely friendship with his new neighbours – a retired college professor and his transgender daughter, Gossamer (played by Transparent’s Alexandra Grey).
Although set in the 1980s, the film’s currency with the here and now is startling and the determination of the two lead characters – Gossamer to live her life how she wants and Tate to ignore his father’s knee-jerk warnings to stay away from her – resonates long after the credits roll.
Second Star on the Right introduces Emilia, a bisexual millennial with an outdated vocabulary of 90s pop-culture references, who lives with her mother, parties most nights and struggles as an aspiring actor. Her close group of female friends are already married with children and wonder when, if ever, Emilia will just grow up!
Documentaries include Steelers: The World’s First Gay Rugby Club, made by expat Eamon Ashton-Atkinson who moved from Australia to the UK and discovered the accepting embrace of rugby. The Steelers meet our own gay rugby club, the Sydney Convicts, in this compelling exploration of how, together, the players (and their lesbian coach) tackle more than just the opposition.
Ahead of the Curve documents the birth of the iconic lesbian magazine, Curve, through the personal story of the magazine’s founder, Franco Stevens. Bold and unashemedly lesbian, the magazine had an undeniable impact on lesbian culture in the past and present. The documentary asks, what of the future?
Surviving the Silence explores the extraordinary story behind the historic discharge of war hero, Col. Margarethe Cammermeyer, who admitted she was a lesbian in the midst of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” military era and changed the course of US military policy.
As a way of saying thank you to our loyal audience and ‘We miss you’ to those in lockdown and/or on the other side of closed borders, QSFF20 is offering three packages – Gay Shorts, Lesbian Shorts and Trans & Gender Diverse Shorts – for anyone and everyone to enjoy, on-demand and free of charge. Each package contains the best new short films from around the world and comes with closed captioning.
Rounding off the online program are three hugely popular titles from the Mardi Gras Film Festival in February – Same But Different: A True New Zealand Love Story, Song Lang and Tu Me Manques – which are screening as encores.
Queer Screen is committment to accessibility and QSFF20 sees our biggest investment yet in closed captioning. Together with the free Shorts packages, several English-language films are also receiving closed-captions, including Breaking Fast, Gossamer Folds and Same But Different: A True New Zealand Love Story, as will many Q&As and interviews with filmmakers.
Two very special, socially-distanced events are being held for Sydneysiders – a drag double feature at the Skyline Drive-In (Stage Mother and The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert) on Saturday 26 September and two screenings of the powerful documentary, Welcome To Chechnya on Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 September at Palace’s Chauvel Cinema, in partnership with Antenna Documentary Film Festival.
In 2020, the Queer Screen Pitch Off, which is also going online, will be close-captioned. This year a maximum of six eligible filmmakers will be invited to spruik their film proposal to a panel of expert assessors on 27 September. Up for grabs is $10,000 of funding towards the production of a queer short film.
“Queer Screen acknowledges that these are difficult times and although we can’t come together in our usual festival setting we are excited to be bringing the festival to our communities across the nation and fulfilling our remit to showcase diversity, support queer filmmakers and celebrate LGBTIQ+ stories,” said Rose.
The 2020 Queer Screen Film Fest runs from Thursday 17 September to Sunday 27 September. Online Passes and Tickets are on sale now. For more information, visit: www.queerscreen.org.au for details.
Image: Gossamer Folds (film still)