City News

Film festival branches out

Mardi Gras Film Festival director Paul Struthers. Photo: Chris Peken

This year, the Mardi Gras Film Festival celebrates 21 years of keeping Sydney screens queer, and festival director Paul Struthers promises the biggest and “best program yet”, with 41 features and documentaries.

The festival will include five world premieres and 19 local premieres.

“Over the past 12 months there has been a huge amount of incredible queer cinema from around the globe,” Mr Struthers said.

“Stories of love, loss, politics and pride will all take centre stage in February and I’m excited to be a part of bringing these films to Australian audiences.”

After his stint volunteering with Queer Screen in September last year, Mr Struthers applied for the director role of the MGFF2014.

“It means a great deal to me to be hosting the festival as I have been a huge film fan since I was twelve. To be putting on a festival, alongside many other passionate people makes me very happy indeed,” he said.

“I often think, if my twenty-two year-old self knew what I would end up doing, he would be ecstatic.”

One of the films to be previewed during the festival includes the locally-shot Zoe.Misplaced by Mekelle Mills.

Shot in and around Newtown, Ms Mills explains the story follows Zoe, a woman in her twenties whose regimented life is thrown into upheaval when she unexpectedly falls in love.

“In doing so, she is faced with making a series of choices whose outcomes not only impact  her independence but the relationships with those that are most important to her,” Ms Mills said.

“The film means the absolute world to me. I have poured my heart and soul into creating it and have loved the opportunity.”

Ms Mills told City News the story behind Zoe.Misplaced is quite personal and no matter whether you are gay, straight, bisexual or transgender, she hopes the film conveys that we are all different in our own unique ways – but in the end we are all equal.

This is a shared theme throughout majority of the films and the festival itself.

“It is my hope, no matter what your sexual orientation is, there is at least one film, (but hopefully all of them) that interests you,” Mr Struthers said.

For those keen on the classics, the festival program also includes special 20th anniversary screenings of Muriel’s Wedding and Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

The full program guide can be found at here, but a few films caught our eyes at City News:

Any Day Now. USA, Director Travis Fine. Showing Saturday Feb 22, 18:45

A gay couple take in abandoned teenager with Down Syndrome to be the family he never had. When their unconventional living arrangements are discovered the family are forced to fight a biased legal system.

Zoe.Misplaced. Australia. Director Mekelle Mills. Showing Feb 15, 18:30

A story that transcends gender and sexuality, this witty and highly relatable film shows how normal life is for a twenty-something lesbian finding her feet in the adult world. How will it effect those around her?

Croc-A-Dyke-Dundee. UK/ Australia. Director Fiona Cunningham-Reid. Showing Feb 23, 19:30

Dawn O’Donnell was a penniless lesbian in 1960s Australia. Everything was illegal, especially homosexuality. Yet Dawn built herself an empire of drag-clubs, sex shops and steam rooms. But was she a controversial gay icon or simply a criminal who cashed in during years of homophobic legislation?

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