The festival (the largest of its kind in the world) proudly celebrates queer culture in all its beautiful forms over its 11 days-kicking off on March 15, so mark it in your diary-with this year’s festival having a special focus on activism.
Opening Night Gala will screen the Melbourne premiere of Cloudburst, a funny, emotionally engaging, romantic road movie starring Olympia Dukakis. Closing Night is Leave It on the Floor, which has been described as “a cross between Paris is Burning and Dreamgirls” and I’ve been told it’s studded with dance, costumes and original songs, so brace yourselves, ladies and gents.
Amongst the features, documentaries and shorts there are a few stand-out films from the program; the likes of We Were Here (Dir. David Weissman), a moving documentary about the unfolding of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in San Francisco during the ’70s and ’80s; Spanish feature film Absent from one of queer cinema’s most exciting new voices Marco Berger; Jan Gassman’s debut feature Offbeat which charts the tumultuous relationship between two Swiss brothers who live, eat and breathe rap music; and the documentary Vito, about the seminal gay rights campaigner Vito Russo.
Focus on Activism is a special spotlight in the program in 2012. Each year MQFF encourages audiences to find out about the lives of our GLBTI friends around the globe, this year young Australian director Logan Mucha brings East Bloc Love to the festival. In Belarus (where being openly gay leads to beatings and arrests) Mucha gets to the heart of the matter filming across six eastern European countries interviewing activists who take to the streets to demand equality. The screening will also be accompanied by a panel discussion about affecting change through education and entertainment. The queer community still faces marriage inequality, bullying in schools, and ignorant, outdated, homophobic opinions directed at it so this is very important stuff.
International guests attending the festivities are Wayne Mack, producer of the documentary Kink Crusaders about the annual Mr Leather competition in the US; Jesse Archer, director of the short film Half Share and star of the film Going Down in LA LA Land; US director Devin Kordt-Thomas will be here with his short film My Night With Andrew Cunanan which is based on the Versace murderer; and writer/producer Glenn Gaylord with his aforementioned closing night film, Leave it on the Floor.
Other talks taking place during the festival including a Transgender Activist panel which will cover legal and social issues for the transgender community in Australia and the People Power panel, which will look at the realities of individual activism versus group activism.
It’s an entertaining and thought-provoking line-up. Take part, get amongst Melbourne’s community and bring a straight friend, because as the festival’s Director Lisa Daniel suggests, “You never know the power of a good film in changing attitudes.”