Arts & Entertainment

Spotlight on ladies at Queer Screen Festival 2021

Queer Screen Festival Director, Lisa Rose. Photo: Ann-Marie Calilhanna


City Hub speaks with Queer Screen Film Festival Director Lisa Rose about the festival’s 9th year & the slate of films for queer women.

With Sydney in lockdown than what better time is there than now to delve head first into this year’s Queer Screen Film Festival. Now in its 9th year, this year’s program presents some 40 films from 17 countries, in 18 different spoken languages, and with no less than 22 Australian premieres.

As Festival Director Lisa Rose explains “All though this this is the third time we have offered something online and Australia wide, it is actually our first ever completely online festival, which is exciting because it’s something different to do.

“Everyone in our community has been impacted by the pandemic in some way and we are delighted to create an online festival to help us through these times… People are really hanging out to watch something new and queer and have that experience of watching something together virtually.”

We asked Rose to guide us through some of the festival’s top lesbian films, because, as Rose tells us, “Gay men have always had more films that are made about gay men than there are films made about queer women. But now there is just as much stuff, in this festival at least, about queer women.”

Tove is one of my easy highlights. It’s about this wonderful artist who created the cartoon called Moomin which started as a comic in a paper, then became an actual cartoon made into a television show then into a movie,” Rose explains. “It’s about her life as a bisexual woman and her experience as an artist and a number of romances she has throughout the film. It’s a really wonderful European biopic that starts in the late 40s and moves through about 15 years of her life.”

Amy Glazer’s warm-hearted Beautiful Dreamer, from San Francisco is a comedy-drama about love, friendship, and building your ‘logical’ family. Billed as being tinged with ‘shades of Armistead Maupin’ this film is another highlight according to Rose.

“This one has a number of different story lines. One of them is about a lesbian couple, and one of the women is played by Erin Daniels who people may know from the L World. It’s about her fear of commitment and the writer’s block she has. It’s about people growing up, impending parenthood. It’s quite relatable.”

This year’s Queer Screen Film Festival will also feature five encores screenings of some of the festival’s most loved past feature films.

“These are films people really connected with in the past,” Rose explains. “We have a fantastic multicultural lesbian romcom called Signature Move which we played at our 2018 festival. We have Wild Nights With Emily which we bought back from 2019, which is an absurd comedy about Emily Dickinson. That’s just some of them, there are a heap of other ones as well.

“I also really love a fantastic film called Fanny: The Right To Rock which is a documentary about an all-female Filipina American rock band who were basically written out of rock history in the 1970s. They were the first all-female rock band; they paved the way for all these other bands to come through but never got any of the credit they deserve.”

Not the only documentary showing as part of this years Queer Screen Festival – keep an eye out for AIDS Diva: The Legend Of Connie Norma, a film which details the story of self-proclaimed AIDS diva and trans trailblazer Connie Norman who lived and died fighting for the right to be seen and heard.

Expanding our focus a little further, Rose says another film from this year’s program which is not to be missed is Beyto – a critically acclaimed drama from Switzerland exploring the clash between queer and traditional immigrant cultures.

“It has been playing every queer film festival across the world in the last six months or so. It’s a fantastic film about a young Turkish immigrant who meets a local Swiss guy, they fall in love and it’s about what happens when his family finds out. It’s thought provoking and beautifully performed,” Rose explains.

In addition to the on-demand program, Queer Screen has a number of live free events scheduled including filmmaker Q&As and panels; the Halfway Hangout where people can meet virtually to chat about the films and short film competition, Queer Screen Pitch Off.

“I always encourage people to step outside the box and watch something that would not normally want to watch,” Rose adds. “That’s part of the beauty of a film festival, you might watch four or five films, love three of them, like one of them and really hate the other one. It’s about immersing yourself in it, and getting to see different experiences, that’s what I want people to do with this year’s program.”

The 9th Queer Screen Film Fest will be hitting smaller screens from September 16-26.

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