Mardi Gras Film Festival celebrates 21 in style

Reaching for the MoonDocumentaries about transgender porn stars,  biopics of famous lesbian poets, evocative coming-of-age dramas and witty indie teen comedies, are just some of the queer-tinged viewing treats that audiences can expect when the 21st Mardi Gras Film Festival hits Sydney next February.

Tickets for ten teaser films are now on sale as event organisers promised one of the most diverse program line-ups in the Festival’s 21-year history.

The Festival will offer up an eclectic selection of classic and contemporary LGBTIQ films from across Australia and around the world – showcasing multiple world and Australian premieres, critically-acclaimed international titles and some of the most ground breaking queer flicks of all time.

“Turning 21 is a huge achievement for an event that has come from such humble beginnings,” says Mardi Gras Film Festival Director, Paul Struthers.

“To celebrate this milestone, we wanted to deliver a program that truly captures the many facets and realities of LGBTIQ communities – both today and throughout history.”

“From the funny, spirited and fabulous to the poignant, confronting and sometimes heartbreaking – we’ll be bringing audiences a very real and rounded snapshot of LGBTIQ themes, stories and films from across the globe. Get ready to experience a massive celebration of pride, creativity and culture under one roof next February.”

The Festival will kick off with opening night on Thursday 13 February with the Australian premiere of Reaching for the Moon – a biographical drama directed by Oscar-nominated Brazilian filmmaker Bruno Barreto. Set in Petrópolis during the Fifties and starring Australian actress Miranda Otto in a career-best performance, the film chronicles the love affair between acclaimed American poet Elizabeth Bishop and famed Brazilian architect Lota de Macedo Soares.

Friday 14 February will see audiences treated to another Australian premiere when evocative drama Five Dances hits the silver screen. Directed in collaboration with choreographer Jonah Bokaer and co-starring Australian dancer Reed Luplau (formerly of Sydney Dance Company), the film tells the story of Chip, a gifted teen dancer who embarks on a journey of self-discovery and first-love when he joins a contemporary dance company in New York.

Exploring notions of sexual-discovery later on in life is the critically-acclaimed feature Concussion, which premiered at Sundance Film Festival and went on to snag a Teddy Award at the 2013 Berlin International Film Festival. Screening on Friday 14 February, the film is a powerfully erotic tale about a forty-something housewife who opts to shake off her everyday boredom by becoming a high-end sex worker.

Sure to bring the laughs is G.B.F, a hilarious gay teen comedy about being “outed” from Jawbreaker director Darren Stein. With a cast including Rebecca Gayheart, Natasha  Lyonne and Will and Grace’s Megan Mullally as an over eager mother, the film takes a campy and quirky look at what it means to be a ‘gay best friend’ in the treacherous world of high school.

Aside from features, there will be plenty of documentaries on offer to keep discerning film-buffs well satisfied.

Self-proclaimed “Man with a Pussy”, transgender activist and porn pioneer, Buck Angel, is the subject of Mr. Angel – an uplifting and empowering documentary that chronicles the childhood, modelling career and extraordinary journey of one of the world’s most unlikely political heroes. Angel will also be a special guest of the Festival, introducing the film on Sunday 16 February and participating in an interactive Q&A session following the screening.

Also placing a lens on the real world is the award-winning documentary Camp Beaverton: Meet the Beavers, which provides a fascinating insight into the only all-women, trans-inclusive community camp at Burning Man arts festival.

Documentaries from Australian filmmakers will also go under the spotlight when Martin Fox’s Friends of Dorothy world premieres on Wednesday 19 February. In his second film in as many years, prolific photographer William Yang shares his personal tales, traversing the history of queer Sydney – from the gay underground of the late 60s and the 80s AIDS crisis, through to the 90s party scene and beyond.

Another highlight of the Festival program will be Shirley Clarke’s seminal classic Portrait of Jason – a 1966 avant-garde documentary that invites audiences into the world of Jason Holiday, a gay African American hustler who challenged notions of sexuality and race in the Sixties.

Presented by Queer Screen, the Mardi Gras Film Festival is Australia’s leading selection of LGBTIQ films, offering audiences a carefully curated program of queer-tinged features, documentaries, short films and retrospectives over eleven days and nights.

The Mardi Gras Film Festival runs from Thursday 13 to Sunday 23 February 2014. The full festival program will be revealed on Wednesday 15 January. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Reaching for the Moon