Sunday, January 15th, 2023

Queerguru’s TOP PICKS OF MUST SEE MOVIES @ Queer Screen – Mardi Gras Film Festival, Sydney




In 1993, a group of queer Sydney filmmakers, students, and supporters approached Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras to establish an independent organization whose focus would be queer film and screen culture. This organization was Queer Screen. (One of those pioneer filmmakers was Stephen Cummins who died in 1994, and now is the subject of a well-deserved Retrospective in this year’s Festival)

The Mardi Gras Film Festival has grown considerably since 1993. It is now one of Australia’s largest film festivals of any kind, and one of the top five queer film festivals in the world. It is highly regarded by filmmakers all over the world and is the most important platform for promoting LGBTIQ titles to distributors and exhibitors in this territory.   It says a lot for the commonality of the global queer community that the Festival’s diverse program includes several excellent movies that have already proved to be critical smash hits in other parts of the world.

The year Queer Screen celebrates its 30th year and judging by its programming has stepped up its game to ensure this is another one for the record books   As usual from our home over 9000 miles away the Queerguru Team of reviewers has gone through the entire schedule for


BLITZED: This rather wonderful new documentary by Bruce Ashley and Michael Donald is the remarkable story of how in the 1980’s a very small group of young people in London in a mere 18 months redefined a whole generation, the effects of which can still be felt today.  It is a very quintessentially English story set against a historical trait in a country that has always indulged avant-garde and idiosyncratic characters.




CHRISSY JUDY takes a poignant dive into what our friendships do for us – in particular those that involve our queer chosen families. Chrissy (Wyatt Fenner) and Judy (Todd Flaherty) are best friends and have been performing drag together for a while, mostly to rather disinterested audiences in New York City and Fire Island. They’ve both recently turned thirty years old and this milestone has triggered Chrissy into reevaluating his life and priorities. He decides to quit performing drag and move in with his boyfriend Shawn (Kiyon Spencer) who lives in Philadelphia, and transfer his day job there too. 


P.S. Todd Flaherty filmed part of this his debut film in Provincetown MA the quuer mecca on Cape Cod where we also summer so we filmed this interview with him https://queerguru.com/todd-flaherty-talks-about-his-directing-debut-chrissy-judy-that-everyone-else-is-now-talking-about-too/




El Houb (The Love) is a tense family melodrama set within the Dutch-Moroccan community in Holland. Successful young businessman Karim (Fahd Larhzaoui) and his Ghanian boyfriend Kofi (Emmanuel Boafo) are in a state of undress at Karim’s smart apartment when Karim’s father Abbas (Slimane Dazi), a postman, delivers a package and sees Karim in Kofi’s bed. Karim’s conservative, religious, family don’t know that he is gay and his father’s sight prompts Karim to decide to come out to them.

The film shows that, however tough it may seem at times, there can be an alternative to suffering in silence within a family. A genuine love story, in all senses of the word. Highly recommended.





FRAMING AGNES. Canadian trans filmmaker Chase Joynt confidently left the recent Sundance Film Festival clutching two awards, knowing he has been successful in a rare achievement. His sophomore feature-length documentary Framing Agnes is even better than his remarkable debut No Ordinary Man which he co-directed with

In this new movie, Joynt gently chips away on how being transgender is so widely misunderstood mainly by our sheer ignorance.  His film continues an important message to dispel so many long-held myths as it gives such dignity and grace as part of a continuing dialogue about the transgender community. 

P.S.  Canadian trans filmmaker Chase Joynt the director and co-writer of Framing Agnes sits down with co-writer #MorganMPage to talk with QUEERGURU about their excellent new film https://queerguru.com/filmmakers-chase-joynt-and-morgan-m-page-talk-about-framing-agnes-one-of-the-very-best-queer-films-at-sundance-2022/




How To Tell a Secret : Over the past few years, QUEERGURU has sat through and reviewed 40 feature films that touch on HIV and/or AIDS.  The pandemic of the 1980s and 1990s totally devastated the LGBTQ+ community and became the single largest factor in reshaping our future.  As a queer media that prides itself in its mission to ensure that our history is shared as widely as possible, especially with queer youth, we devote coverage to these movies no matter how upsetting or disturbing they are …. although we will not include any that are exploitative and barely cover their disdain for our community.

Once in a blue moon, a feature film comes along that looks at the whole HIV phenomenon in a different context and is both inspiring and totally uplifting.  How To Tell A Secret is one such film.  It’s a compelling hybrid documentary that for once does not deal with the 80s and 90s but focuses on how millennials are dealing with their HIV diagnoses in contemporary Ireland. 

P.S. Robbie Lawlor is one of the central characters in this excellent  documentary HOW TO TELL A SECRET  talks with Queerguru about making the movie



In From The Side is a rare genre of queer movies.  It’s a love story set in a gay rugby club.   Brit filmmaker Matt Carter’s story is about winning and losing …… on the rugby field and in the bedroom, and it is an enchanting compelling tale that will have you transfixed until the ‘final score” 

Carter never moralizes about any of the men’s choices: his film is about adultery, monogamy and open relationships between two gay men who are very comfortable in their own skins.  Kudos to him and his fellow writer Adam Silver for the very pleasant change for avoiding so many potential cliches in queer films: there’s not even a hint of homophobia or toxic masculinity.

P.S. Queerguru sat down with filmmaker Matt Carter to talk about his excellent debut film https://queerguru.com/matt-carter-talks-about-his-feature-film-in-from-the-side-a-queer-romance-about-winning-and-losing/



The past few years have seen an increase in queer-themed films coming out of Muslim countries including Joyland, the directorial debut from Pakistani filmmaker Saim Sadiq.  

Sadiq’s film is an intense analysis of the crippling effect ‘traditional family values’ on gender and sexuality can have on individuals in 21st Century families, not just in Pakistan, but in conservative households across the world. Many of the family members in this structure are slightly lost and downtrodden, and contrast sharply to the assertive, driven, fearless Biba who has no such strictures around herself. 

Winner of the Queer Palm and Un Certain Regard Joyland promises to make an impact as Pakistan’s chosen entry for Best International Feature Film at next year’s Academy Awards Oscar’s ceremony.




The opening scene of Lonesome resembles a Hollywood Western as our protagonist Casey (Josh Lavery) keeps pace with the sun while running away from his reality. He dons a cowboy hat and the classic blue jeans and white T-shirt combo that immediately endow him with an eye-candy-cum-rebellious persona. His face has the sharpness as well as the vulnerability of youth. Staying true to his young age, he doesn’t miss a chance to sleep with men, even at his lowest moments. His story is that of a rural gay man making his way into the big city. However, what he lacks is hope. His only redeeming quality is his libido. Lonesome treads familiar territory but is boosted by the decadent charm of Josh Lavery and the director’s reluctance to hold back during the ‘depraved’ moments of the narrative. 



Queer Arab love stories are brought to life in Egyptian film director Mohammad Shawky Hassan’s colorful new film, Bashtaalak Sa’at (Shall I Compare You to a Summer’s Day?).  A lively, handsome group of young queer Arab men, mostly Egyptian and Lebanese, and clad just in their underwear or less, recount their tales of love and lust amongst each other using a variety of inspired means including Arabic poetry, animation, beautiful vocal harmonies, and naked re-enactments. The result is an entertaining, playful portrayal of modern queer life and love in the eastern Mediterranean – contemporary pop culture presented with a nod to traditional Arabic storytelling. 




(The Blue Caftan) is director Maryam Touzani’s beautifully poetic drama about the relationship between a closeted Moroccan tailor, Halim, (Saleh Bakri), his dying wife Mina (Lubna Azabal), and their gay male apprentice Youssef (Ayoub Missioui). Beautifully shot and lit by cinematographer Virginie Surdej, with excellent, very tender, performances by the three main actors, Touzani’s intimate, authentic film is paced to reflect the slow burn of the lives and relationships she is exploring. Her film is a great close-up study of the combinations of despondency, laughter, grief and joy life can entail. BEG, STEAL OR BORROW TO GET A TICKET FOR THIS ONE! 




Elegance Bratton‘s extremely impressive debut feature “The Inspection” is a somewhat harrowing tale of an out gay man being forced back into the closet.  25-year-old African /American Ellis French (Jeremy Pope) is both homeless and  friendless and was only 14 years when he was disowned by his  conservative religious and sanctimonious mother (Gabrielle Union

The film works so well because of the career-defining performance of two-time Tony-nominated openly gay Jeremy Pope. It was compelling highly nuanced and perfectly pitched.  We wouldn’t be surprised to see his name on several lists of Award nominees this season.

The Inspection itself is a kind of sequel to Brattan’s heartbreaking doc Pier Kids which are queer kids living rough on the Streets exactly like he did when his own mother threw him out.  Both of his films make such valuable contributions to LGBTQ+ history.



Queer Screen-Mardi Gras Film Fest  will begin on 
2/15 and end on 3/3. To see the whole program and book tickets 
check out https://queerscreen.org.au/


 for full reviews on over 1500 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

Posted by queerguru  at  21:13

Genres:  comedy, coming out, documentary, drama, genderqueer, international, lesbian, rom-com, trans

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