Hot on the heels of the biggest season in its proud 29-year history and in anticipation of its uber-special 30th anniversary slated for 2020, Melbourne Queer Film Festival is thrilled to present the inaugural MQFF eXtra, to be held at Carlton’s Cinema Nova this weekend.
Proving that good things do come in small packages, this three-day event will unveil a tantalising lineup of 10 acclaimed international films and documentaries, along with two spicy sidebars – Guy on Guy Shorts and Girl on Girl Shorts showcasing a thrillingly eclectic selection of 11 mini-movies from Germany, Iran, Israel, Spain, UK, and USA.
The Festival’s 2019 outing attracted a personal-best of over 26,000 attendees, proving that the diversity of LGBTIQ cinematic culture remains a rich and rewarding source of inspiration for filmmakers from Australia and around the world.
But 12 months ‘between drinks’ is a long time to wait…hence the introduction of MQFF eXtra, which aims to provide Festival patrons with a tasty appetiser prior to the bumper 2020 season that will mark three fabulous decades of queer cinema.
MQFF eXtra will launch with a pre-screening celebration followed by Pedro Almodóvar’s fêted drama PAIN AND GLORY, starring Antonio Banderas, in a career-best performance, as a film director reflecting on his life choices, as past and present threaten to engulf him.
PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE, the period lesbian drama that dazzled audiences and critics alike at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, has been selected to close the Festival. Directed by Céline Sciamma, this achingly passionate love story takes place in 1770 Brittany where Marianne, a painter, is commissioned to undertake the wedding portrait of Héloïse, a reluctant bride to be.
What lies between these two fine dramas includes:
A LUV TALE – Lesbian Drama – USA Director: Kay Oyegun
Set in culturally rich and historic Harlem, this is the theatrical version of the lush and engrossing drama series, that examines the friendship between four lesbians of colour navigating their complex lives through a world of art, music, family and love.
BENJAMIN – Romantic Comedy – UK Director: Simon Amstell
Benjamin, an awkward, self-depreciating indie filmmaker struggling to finish his second film, meets and falls for the charming Noah, a talented French musician. A rocky, on-again/off-again courtship ensues, riddled with meddlesome parents, bothersome ex-boyfriends and magic mushrooms.
CIRCUS OF BOOKS – Documentary – USA Director: Rachel Mason
Two of the unlikeliest purveyors of gay pornography – an elderly, married Jewish couple – are the centre of this utterly charming and engaging documentary about the infamous West Hollywood gay porn store and distributor, Circus of Books, which has been an institution since the 70s.
GIANT LITTLE ONES – Gay Drama – Canada Director: Keith Behrman
In this sensitive and clear-eyed portrait of contemporary youth, popular high school seniors and best friends, Franky and Ballas, fall into bed together after a night of drunken partying. The subsequent repercussions ripple across their cloistered world as they question their sexuality and the true nature of their friendship.
LIZZIE – USA – Lesbian Thriller Director: Craig William Macneill
With a cast helmed by Chloë Sevigny and Kristin Stewart, this psychological thriller takes a queer, feminist look at the infamous turn-of-the-century parricide case (Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her mother forty whacks…) unveiling a darkly compelling tale of repression, desire and bloody rebellion.
NEVRLAND – Austria – Gay Drama Director: Gregor Schmidinger
17-year-old Jakob wants nothing more than to feel alive, but anxiety attacks prevent him from doing so, forcing him to escape into virtual worlds… until he meets 26-year-old Kristjan in a cam chat. What begins as an innocent hook-up soon sees Jakob plunged into a trippy world of sexual liberation and menace.
SEAHORSE – UK – Documentary Director: Jeanie Finlay
Seahorse chronicles the moving journey 30-year-old British journalist and trans man Freddie McConnell takes to fulfil his dream of becoming a parent. Sensitively, told this documentary follows Freddie as he forgoes testosterone in order to deliver his own child, and the complex emotions he experiences as his body begins to transition back.
VITA & VIRGINIA – Lesbian Drama – UK/Ireland Director: Chanya Button
The true story of the passionate relationship between literary trailblazer Virginia Woolf (Elizabeth Debicki), and enigmatic aristocrat, Vita Sackville-West (Gemma Arterton), and the birth of the novel their intoxicating love affair inspired; Woolf’s bold experiment in art and androgyny, Orlando.
As a precursor to MQFF’s 2020 program, it has been announced that Quit Victoria, MQFF and Thorne Harbour Health will be asking filmmakers across Australia to address the impact of smoking in the LGBTIQ community with QuitFlicks – a new short-film competition with the theme Cope and Connect without the Smokes. This follows-on from 2019’s successful Keep the Vibe Alive incentive which was an integral part of MQFF 2019.
The premiere season of MQFF eXtra will run from 4 – 6 October at Carlton’s Cinema Nova. Tickets and Multiple Pass Deals can be purchased via the Festival’s website. For more information, visit: www.mqff.com.au for details.
Image: Antonio Banderas stars in Pain and Glory (supplied)