For the first time in its 27 year history, an Australian LGBTQ feature film will open Queer Screen’s 27th Mardi Gras Film Festival in Sydney.
Ellie & Abbie (and Ellie’s Dead Aunt) is a Sydney-based rom-com focusing on a teenage lesbian love affair, looking at Australia’s own civil rights movement. Starring Marta Dusseldorp (Stateless, Janet King), Rachel House (Thor: Ragnarok, Hunt for the Wilderpeople) and Julia Billington (Starting from…Now), alongside emerging talents Zoe Terakes (Wentworth) and Sophie Hawkshaw as the lovestruck teens.
“Our 2020 theme ‘Evolve, Emerge, Fly’ reflects both the continually improving quality of the local and international films on offer as well as the diversity of emerging Australian talent”, explains Queer Screen Festival Director Lisa Rose. “It also represents the broader evolution of queer film, as we move beyond ‘coming out’ stories to tell all sorts of stories, through all sorts of characters, in all genres.”
“In addition, several films examine how LGBTIQ+ people seek to belong from a global perspective. When we look at the movement of people around the world, whether forced or voluntary, we see that ultimately, we all just want to belong somewhere and the truth is, we belong everywhere.”
This year’s Festival boasts 6 world premieres, 93 Australian premieres and 12 Sydney premieres.
Levan Akin’s acclaimed And Then We Danced will receive its Australian premiere after picking up audience awards at NewFest and the Odessa International Film Festival and a Queer Palm nomination at Cannes Film Festival.
The story of rivalry, love and masculine cultural roles set in a traditional Georgian dance school was a hit at the BFI London Film Festival and sparked protests in Georgia.
Queer Fest will close with Simone Godano’s An Almost Ordinary Summer, a lighthearted look at two Italian families whose worlds collide when their patriarchs come out as a couple. Set against the stunning Amalfi Coast, it looks set to close the festival in style.
This year will see the launch of Queer Scream, a program strand on queer horror films, featuring LA Outfest hit, Bit. Transgender actress Nicole Maines (Supergirl) picked up the LA Outfest Outstanding performance in a US feature award for her role in this transgender and lesbian vampire film. Genre fans will also get to enjoy sci-fi drama Aniara, and the chilling Spiral starring Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman (UnREAL, American Horror Story).
Screen Australia and Australian broadcaster Network 10 have established Out There, a joint initiative spotlighting three short documentaries on LGBTIQ+ diversity in regional Australia. The docs will premiere in Sydney before being available in Australia on 10 Play (Network 10’s streaming platform).
Other documentary highlights include For They Know Not What They Do, a look at four gay and transgender Americans and their conservative Christian families; Changing the Game, winner of Best Documentary at LA’s Outfest and San Francisco’s Frameline, examining the experiences of three transgender highschool athletes; and local premieres of Circus of Books, Scream Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street, and Are You Proud?
Other highlights include the World Premiere of T11 Incomplete. Writer/director Suzanne Guacci will present her new film about a paraplegic lesbian and her carer. Anna Paquin and Holiday Grainger star in 1950s melodrama Tell It To The Bees, and Henry Golding (Crazy Rich Asians, White Christmas) stars in the moving Monsoon. Director Isabel Sandoval, the first trans woman of colour to direct and headline a film competing at the Venice Film Festival, will present her stunning Lingua Franca.
Queer Screen will also be delving into the world of television with the world premiere of lesbian detective comedy Without A Tracey, and the sexy pansexual drama Cloudy River.
For the full festival 2020 lineup check out the Queer Screen website.
Tickets for all films are on sale now including flexi passes to 5 or 10 films. Download the Queer Screen Mardi Gras Film Festival app, visit queerscreen.org.au to book. Become a Queer Screen member for discounted tickets and priority entry.
By Chad Armstrong