The 2018 Melbourne Queer Film Festival Announces Line Up!

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The gates to a cinematic Aladdin’s Cave were flung asunder this evening when the 28thMelbourne Queer Film Festival unveiled its dazzling 2018 program.

Building on its reputation for showcasing the finest, contemporary queer cinema from Australia and beyond, the 2018 Festival has assembled a line-up of deliciously evocative titles that explore and celebrate the rich diversity inherent throughout the LGBTIQ spectrum.

Supported by Principal Partner, City of Melbourne, Cultural Partner, Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI), and Festival Sponsors Victoria State Government/Film Victoria, Crown Metropol Melbourne and Peter Rowland, the 2018 Festival will present 85 sessions at ACMI, Kino Cinemas and Cinema Nova from March 15 to 26, and encompass 38 features, 14 documentaries, 72 shorts and incorporate 2 World Premieres, 12 Australian Premieres, 21 Melbourne Premieres and 2 newly restored Classic features.

Said Program DirectorSpiro Economopoulos, “We’re truly excited to share this global celebration of LGBTIQ cinema with Melbourne audiences.  Every film and documentary within our 2018 program is guaranteed to not only entertain, but to provoke discussion, engender compassion and confront the many aspects of queer culture with honesty, insight and, not infrequently, that great leveller, humour.”

“We’re all on a journey to self-discovery and understanding,” added Executive Director, Maxwell Gratton,“ and we’re optimistic that with each year, the remaining barricades towards complete acceptance of our community, are gradually being eroded, which is one of the reasons why Festivals such as MQFF and its local and international counterparts are so essential.”

Launching the Festival will be the Melbourne Premiere of Freak Showthecritically feted, coming-of-age comedy based on the cult novel by renowned ‘club kid’ James St. James.  Directed by Trudie Stylerwith an amazing central performance by Alex Lawther (Departure MQFF 2016), Freak Show follows fashion-forward teen, Billy, who, on moving to a new school, sets his sights on becoming Homecoming Queen – a decision which doesn’t sit well with his competitors.  Throw in unforgettable cameos by Bette Midler, John McEnroe and Laverne Cox and you have a ‘fierce’ ode to being true to oneself.  Post-screening Opening Night festivities will continue with drinks, canapés and fabulous music!

Love, Simon, screening mid-Festival as the Centrepiece Presentation, will also explore the oft-fraught journey to self-discovery Based on Becky Albertalli’s acclaimed novel, Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agendaand screening courtesy of 20th Century Fox, this heartfelt tale follows seventeen year-old Simon Spier  (Nick Robinson) who is yet to ‘come out’; a fact complicated by his feelings for the anonymous classmate he’s fallen for online. With Love Simon, director Greg Berlanti (The Broken Hearts Club, Life As We Know It) reminds us what it’s like to fall in love for the first time.

Closing Night audiences will be treated to the Australian Premiere of Becks, awarded Best Film at the 2017 Los Angeles Film Festival, and featuring a terrific cast including Tony Award winner Lena Hall in the titular role, along with Christine Lahti and Mena Suvari.  Moving to LA to be with her girlfriend, Becks is crushed to find that she’s been two-timed. With no money and diminished confidence, she retreats to the conservative Midwest to live with her mother, where she forms a clandestine relationship with a restless housewife, coincidentally married to Becks’ high-school tormenter. A sure-fire crowd pleaser,Becks will be followed by Closing Night celebrations at ACMI with tunes by DJ Emoceans.

Supporting the work of emerging queer filmmakers is an essential mandate of MQFF and we’re thrilled to continue that tradition with a raft of MQFF & Jury Awards generously made possible by our awards sponsors and donors. Australian shorts screening as part of the entire 2018 line-up will be eligible for 6 different awards with a cumulative prize pool of $9,500, whilst all feature films and documentaries will be in the running to win either the ‘David McCarthy Award for Best Feature Documentary’ or the ‘MQFF Award for Best First Feature Narrative,’ each of which carries a prize of $2,500.   MQFF punters will also be able to vote for their favourite Short or Feature Narrative/Documentary via our annual Audience Choice Awards, both of which incorporate a cash prize.

72 local and international films feature in this year’s exceptional Shorts program, to be screened as single sessions across 10 distinct categories.  Guaranteed to put a smile on the most sombre dial, our Comedy Shorts include a toxic-bro-off between two gay men desperately trying to prove who’s the ‘straightest of them all’ and the travails of a newly single Brooklyn lesbian looking for love at all the wrong house parties.

Transformations incorporates 6 global shorts and introduces us to an unforgettable mix of transgender and gender non-conforming individuals with insight, empathy and passion, ranging from the severe intolerance of 1950s England to the catwalks of the New York ballroom scene.

A highlight of the wildly popular Australian Shorts & Awards section is director John Sheedy’s Mrs. McCutcheon, winner of no less than 11 major International Festival Awards, which follows a ten year-old boy determined to do things his way in order to find his place in the world.  This enticing slice of local filmmaking will also beam you into the Australian Sharpie scene of the 1970s, the grunt and sweat of the Australian Women’s Football League, the inner life of a Melbourne bear, the alien abduction of a drug addicted drag queen and the rush of getting high and doing crime with your girlfriend.

Young and Queer Shorts features 7 award-winning stories exploring gender and sexuality, including Mother Knows Best from Swedish director Mikael Bundsen which offers a voyeuristic glimpse into an awkward journey home between a mother and son, whilst love and relationships are explored across sections such as Hooking Up, Guy on Guy Shorts and Girl on Girl Shorts which incorporates the extraordinary Canadian drama Apart From Everything.


And Our Queer Neighbors will present 5 of the best films from the Asia Pacific Queer Film Festival Alliance (APQFFA).


Our 2018 program is brimming with a truly superlative selection of full-length features and documentaries.

The Australian Showcase program incorporates 2 World Premieres; The Five Provocations, a daring, original, performance driven, realist drama from director Angie Black about four strangers whose lives intersect, and So Long, directed by Caitlin Farrugia & Michael Jones.  Shot in Melbourne, this lesbian mumblecore drama on single life is striking in its naturalistic and improvisational style.  Both features will be followed by Q&A sessions with the filmmakers.

Our retrospective strand, Bring it Back, will screen 2 restored classics from the mid-80s – the groundbreaking lesbian classic Desert Heartsfrom director Donna Deitch which, thanks to a superb 4K restoration, radiates with heightened sensuality, and Prick Up Your EarsStephen Frears’ biopic on doomed English playwright, Joe Orton, with Gary Oldman (in one of his earliest film performances), as the charismatic Orton, and Alfred Molina as his one-time creative partner, and tortured lover, Kenneth Halliwell.

In addition to the previously announced 2018 highlights which included BPM (Beats Per Minute), My Days of Mercy, Saturday Church, Signature Move, Behind the Curtain: Todrick Hall and Woman on Fire, here are a few of the many exceptional international LGBTIQ+ features and documentaries that will screen as part of the 2018 season:


A Million Happy Nows – USA/Feature (Melbourne Premiere)                 

A veteran soap opera star retires to a beach house with her younger partner, but when she is diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s the couple’s relationship is strained until they find the strength to redefine their feelings for each other. Director Albert Carr’s superlative drama, starring Crystal Chappell and Jessica Leccia, won Best First Narrative Feature, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress at FilmOut (San Diego) Festival and Outstanding First Narrative Feature (Audience Award) At L.A. Outfest.

A Moment in the Reeds  – Finland/Feature (Melbourne Premiere)            

Possibly the first ever Finnish LGBT romance, this beautiful love story, set against an idyllic Finnish summer, explores the intense affair between Leevi who is visiting his estranged father and Tareq, a Syrian architect, now refugee, employed to repair the family’s lake house.

Abu – Canada/Documentary (Australian Premiere)                                        

This absorbing documentary offers an intimate insight into a Pakistani immigrant exploring his sexuality while ruminating on his complex relationship with his father. Director Arshad Khan bravely puts himself front and centre as he documents his family’s move from Pakistan to Toronto.


Alaska is a Drag – USA/Feature (Australian Premiere)                              

Life for Leo (Martin L. Washington Jr.), who dreams of being a drag superstar, is far from glamorous.  His sister has cancer, his days are spent gutting fish and there’s only one sad little gay bar within 100 miles. But when he’s invited to compete in Miss Drag America, this fabulous diva finally sees a chance to escape in writer/director Shaz Bennett’s memorable drama.


Chavela – USA/Documentary                                       

Audience award winner for Best Documentary at the 2017 Frameline Film Festival, this rousing film, which features previously unseen footage and interviews, tells the story of a cigar-smoking, tequila-downing rebel, Chavela Vargas, who scandalised Mexico’s music industry by working against traditional gender by wearing pants and ponchos and singing male rancheras.


The Fabulous Allan Carr – USA/Documentary (Australian Premiere)     

Featuring interviews with those that knew him intimately, this is fascinating portrait of larger-than-life Hollywood producer and marketing genius, Allan Carr, who built his bombastic reputation against the success of hit musical Grease and Broadway triumph La Cage Aux Folles.

The Feels – USA/Feature (Melbourne Premiere)                                         

In this racy, hilarious ensemble comedy, a group of friends gather for a weekend away to celebrate an impending wedding. However, as the weekend progresses, marriages unravel and sexual tensions boil over with wickedly comic results!

The Gospel According to André – USA/Documentary (Melbourne Premiere)

This inspiring portrait chronicles the meteoric rise of André Leon Tully, the operatic style icon and fashion industry trail-blazer, from segregated North Carolina to the highest echelons of the fashion world, and is a heartwarming story of a man with a fearless determination to remain true to himself.

Ideal Home – USA/Feature (Melbourne Premiere)                                   

Extravagant, bickering long term lovers, Erasmus (Steve Coogan) and Paul (Paul Rudd), are unexpectedly plunged into parenthood, when the grandson Erasmus never knew he had, lands on their doorstep. From director Andrew Fleming, this dramedy is a bawdy and surprisingly touching look at the many variations that define a family.

Mansfield 66/67 – USA/Documentary (Australian Premiere)      

A doco so drenched in camp that you may need to come up for air, this is an uproarious look at the final years of Hollywood starlet, Jayne Mansfield and her scandalous associate, Anton LaVey, founder of the Church of Satan, both of whom shared an unquenchable thirst for publicity.

McKellen: Playing the Part – UK/Documentary (Melbourne Premiere)         

A unique journey through the landmarks of Ian McKellan’s life from childhood to his candid thoughts on his own ‘coming out’ against the backdrop of the encroaching AIDS epidemic.

Paths  – Germany/Feature (Australian Premiere)                                      

This understated, lyrical mediation on the intricacies of love is a moving, portrait of the decades long relationship between Martin (Mathis Reinhart) and Andreas (Mike Hoffermann), from their initial meeting at a rock gig, to years later when their teenage son has flown the nest.


Porcupine Lake – Canada/Feature (Australian Premiere)                                      

Starring Australian actress Lucinda Armstrong Hall, this wistful and tender tale, set in Northern Ontario about two young girls on the cusp of their first romance, is a complex look at how friendships can shape both our lives and dreams.

Postcards from London – UK/Feature (Australian Premiere)                     

Seeking his fortune in London, beautiful teenager, Jim, portrayed by Harris Dickinson, star of the 2017 drama Beach Rats, lands in Soho, broke and jobless.  An innocent, he falls in with a group of high-class male escorts specialising in post-coital conversation, and rapidly becomes the star attraction for an exclusive coterie of prominent clients, who find his ethereal beauty a perfect canvas upon which to project their fantasies

Queerama – UK/Documentary (Australian Premiere)                 

From director Daisy Asquith, this engrossing essay film charts a century of incredible change in British LGBTIQ life. Archival film, television, documentary and newsreel footage explore the relationships, desires, fears and expressions of gay men and women from 1919 to the current day.

The Revival – USA/Feature (Australian Premiere)                                    

In this darkly funny drama, set amidst a fire and brimstone congregation, a secret love affair between Eli (David Rysdahl), a married southern Baptist preacher and Daniel (Zachary Booth), a rugged, young drifter, examines Eli’s agonising internal conflict between his homosexuality and devotion to God.

Rift – Iceland/Feature (Melbourne Premiere) Director:                            

With shades of the classic thriller Don’t Look Now, this is a truly chilling Icelandic drama.  Two estranged lovers, Gunnar (Björn Stefánsson) and Einar (Sigurður Þór Óskarsson) awkwardly reunite in an isolated cabin in the woods, but it’s not long before they sense the presence of a malevolent force.

The Ring Thing – USA/Feature (Melbourne Premiere)                             

When Kristen (Nicole Pursell) misinterprets a ring Sarah (Sarah Wharton) shows her as the beginning of a marriage proposal, it reveals a couple in vastly different places, in this ambitious exploration of the nature of commitment and how the prospect of marriage can turn a loving relationship into a minefield.

Susanne Bartsch: On Top – USA/Doc (Melbourne Premiere)          

A star-studded, behind-the-curtains look that explores NYC culture through the influence of legendary club promoter, Susanne Bartsch, who over four decades hosted some of the most famous parties in New York city to rightly claim the title ‘Queen of the Night.’

Torrey Pines – USA/Animated Feature (Australian Premiere)                 

Scattered with witty pop culture references, this original animation tells the autobiographical story of its creator, trans animator Clyde Petersen, via a whimsical and occasionally psychedelic 1990s road trip that he took across the USA with his paranoid-schizophrenic mother.

This year’s special events include:


Queer Filmmaking Workshop  (Saturday 17 March)

Presented with The University of Melbourne’s Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) and designed for budding filmmakers, this workshop will provide the opportunity to learn fundamental filmmaking techniques led by filmmakers Kate Lefoe and Lauren Anderson.


Movie Matchmaking (Monday 19 March)

Match-making extraordinaire, Melbourne’s very own queen-of-corporate Karen From Finance is your host and entertainer for the MQFF Match Making extravaganza. Flying solo, happily married or polyamorous – all film-loving queers and allies are welcome.


Cinemaniancs present “All of Them Witches:” The Devil in 60s & 70s Cinema (Saturday 24 March)

This sidebar event to MQFF’s special screening of Mansfield 66/67 is a definite must see for all fans of cult cinema! Jayne Mansfield wasn’t the only one lured by the Devil’s charms – all of Hollywood seemed to be under his spell during the 1960s and ‘70s. Hosted by Hande Noyan, this panel discussion will take you on a journey through Satan’s cinematic incarnations.

Love Bites  (Sunday 25 March)

To commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, the ABC and Screen Australia commissioned 10 five-minute documentaries from LGBTIQ filmmakers across Australia. MQFF is excited to be screening the four Victorian entrants. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with the filmmakers.

Australian Shorts and Awards Night (Sunday 25 March)

MQFF, in conjunction with the City of Melbourne, is delighted to present this fantastic selection of diverse movies from local filmmakers, which will compete for a cash prize pool of $4,500.

MQFF Listing Details:

Event: Melbourne Queer Film Festival 2018

When: Thursday 15 March to Monday 26 March

Venues:  ACMI, Kino Cinemas and Cinema Nova


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