There have been lesbian and gay film festivals in Sydney since 1978. Initially, these were run by the Australian Film Institute (AFI). In 1986, the AFI partnered with what was then the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, to present an annual ‘Sydney Gay Film Week’.
Since 2013, a new film festival, Queer Screen Film Fest, has become a major event that delivers the latest LGBTIQ+ movies to Sydney’s screens in the month of September, before moving to its new August home for its 10th edition in 2023. The film fest starts on 24th August and like most queer film fest these days it’s a combination of in-person screening and online streaming.
The Queerguru Review Team has scoured through the entire diverse and innovative program that covers most of the LGBTQ+ spectrum
HERE ARE OUR TOP PICKS OF MUST SEE MOVIES.
ANCHOR & HOPE : From 2018 this sophomore feature film Goya Award-winning director, Carlos Marques-Marcet chose to tackle a relatively new predicament that of a gay couple who are not on the same page about having a baby together.
Salsa teacher Eva (Oona Chaplin ) and her Spanish girlfriend part-time bartender Kat (Natalia Tena) seem to have a rather idyllic life living on a barge as they cruise up and down the Regent Canal in London. Then when Chorizo their cat dies, Eva announces that instead of replacing the pet, she would rather have a baby to make them into a real family.
Marques-Marcet’s bittersweet drama is not however just about having a baby or not, but is in fact a very touching film about the things we are prepared to do in the name of love. With this script he produced with newbie writer Jules Nurrish this modern rom-com gently explores the possibilities of how different life could turn out if no-one is ever prepared to compromise.
BLUE JEAN is a brilliant new lesbian drama set in Thatcher’s Britain“Do you know what the phrase ‘Fight or Flight’ means?” asks gay Geordie PE teacher Jean (Rosy McEwen) of her teenage students at the beginning of the brilliant new drama Blue Jean. It is a physiological reaction that occurs in response to a perceived harmful event, attack, or threat to survival. It’s obviously on Jean’s mind as she navigates life as a queer teacher in a northeastern secondary school during bleak late 1980s Thatcher-era England in the shadow of controversial new anti-gay legislation, clause 28 of the Local Authorities Act.
Center Of My World (1996). After a summer spent with his best friend Kat to escape his family, Phil goes back to school and starts to question his feelings towards Nicholas, a new classmate. Austrian filmmaker Jakob M. Erwa adapted Andreas Steinhöfel prize-winning novel, a rather charming coming-of-age tale, and the movie is filmed rather beautifully with the young good-looking cast members very convincing in their roles, in and out of their clothes.
Commitment to Life : This is the latest film from one of the very best queer documentarians the Emmy Award winner Jeffery Schwarz ( Boulevard! A Hollywood Story, Tab Hunter Confidential, I Am Divine, Vito,). Against a rich Hollywood backdrop, “Commitment to Life” documents the true story of the fight against HIV/AIDS in Los Angeles – and how an intrepid group of people living with HIV/AIDS, doctors, movie stars, studio moguls and activists changed the course of the epidemic. It’s essential viewing, especially for those interested in the history of our community.
Drifter ls a film that leaves you thinking ‘where is this going?’ for the first 60 minutes of its 79-minute length. Moritz (Lorenz Hochhuth) moves to Berlin to be with his boyfriend. He stands out. When his boyfriend dumps him there are plenty of other people who are interested. Those people are all citizens of bohemian, clubbing, sexually liberated, artsy Berlin. Achingly and effortlessly cool. Moritz flits aimlessly between moments that capture this free living spirit. He snorts ketamine on the beach with an Only Fans star and his female partner. He rescues someone from a G-induced stupor by sticking a finger of speed up their ass. He dances in a shower with a dozen other people, high as a rainbow. He has sex with a bisexual couple. He performs BDSM humiliation acts on a willing paying customer.
This is a tale of someone moving from being the outsider to the insider because of the things they have done and the things they have seen. Unmissable.
IT’S ONLY LIFE AFTER ALL: Alexandria Bombach’s documentary, about the Indigo Girls has screened at SXSW, and Sundance, and is both blessed and cursed by an abundance of archival footage of Amy Ray and Emily Saliers performing and being interviewed over the years. The two have been writing and performing intelligent and out music for decades, managing to remain relatable to a spectrum of fans from radical lesbians to mainstream audiences.
Lie WIth Me, based on the novel by Philippe Besson, has a wistful charm that sits with you long after the film is over. It’s a tale about nostalgia, love and heartbreaking loss that begs you to feel nothing but kindness to all its characters.
Despite the tragedy at its heart, the film rejects mawkishness. In parts, it is even very funny. The character’s pain reveals their humanity in all its absurd messiness. Guillaume de Tonquedec portrays the writer Stephane as equally capable of saying the toe-curlingly wrong thing as he is of achieving sublime prose. This adds to the idea at the heart of the movie that life can be brought back into balance. In the case of director Olivier Peyon’s charming Lie With Me the balance is achieved by finally being able to see life through someone else’s eyes.
If you’ve ever wondered why the sisterhood of women isn’t, well, more sisterly to its members, then take a look at Medusa, a Brazilian fantasy horror movie written and directed by Anita Rocha da Silveira, which takes a deep, memorable dive into how women are controlled and manipulated.
Medusa is an intelligent, thoughtful analysis of how women are controlled by the patriarchy, right-wing moralistic agendas, and impossible standards of beauty – often set by other women. There’s a queer undercurrent to Da Silveira’s tale, which combines camp horror, politics, religious oppression, equality, humor, beauty, and community in a unique blend. An excellent soundtrack includes Cities in Dust by Siouxsie and the Banshees and Wishing on a Star by Rose Royce as well as the comical religious harmonies of the girl band. Highly recommended
The appeal of Theater Camp lies in its large cast of oddballs skewering, or at least having a good time with, a seasonal camp stocked with eager youngsters yearning for their big chance on the stage. The adults in charge at AdironACTS are by only slightly more competent than their young charges. The movie is funny in its portrayal of youthful devotion to “putting on a show” but the best moments are the brief breakthrough performances by a multi-talented cast. It does manage to pull off a satisfying ending, just like the oft-told tale of a crazy, doomed show finding its footing at the last possible moment.
QUEER SCREEN Film Fest begins on 9/23 and will end on 10/3 To see the whole program and book tickets https://queerscreen.org.au/
for full reviews of over 1800 queer films check out www.queerguru.com and whilst you are there be sure to subscribe to get all the latest raves and rants on queer cinema …best of all its FREE