Mardi Gras Film Festival

Film, Film festivals
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Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci in an English field with rolling hills and trees in Supernova
Photograph: Supplied/Queer Screen

Time Out says

Another excellent line-up of LGBTQIA+ movies screens in cinemas and online in February

Little did we know when last year’s Mardi Gras Film Festival lit up Sydney screens that it would be one of the last major arts events to take a bow before you-know-what scuppered almost everything. The Queer Screen team, led by artistic director Lisa Rose, should be joyously proud then that they are back again in 2021 with a brand new look and feel that caters for absolutely everyone. And you don’t even need to be in the harbour city to join the popcorn party.

You can either pop along to socially distanced cinema screenings at the Randwick Ritz, Hayden Orpheum and the Event Cinemas in George Street and Hurstville, take in a picture and a picnic with special Moonlight Cinema screenings in Centennial Park, or you can enjoy a host of fascinating flicks from the comfort and security of your very own sofa as the festival embraces streaming. “The ongoing challenges of the pandemic has helped us evolve our model to deliver a world-class film festival to the widest audience and in the safest ways possible,” Rose says. “After successfully delivering Queer Screen Film Fest mostly online in September 2020, we have expanded on that with a truly hybrid model to provide the collective in-cinema community experience that we all love, alongside a strong on-demand offering.”

You’d think the lockdown production halt had never happened, with just short of a hundred features, shorts and documentaries on offer. North of half of the program will be available online, on top of 60+ cinema screenings. The festival kicks off on February 18 with a starlit screening of Irish comedy Dating Amber at Moonlight Cinemas. It sees high school rebel Amber agree to fake-date shy boy Eddie so they can conceal their queer identities and avoid bullying, but being each other’s beard comes with its own hurdles. Speaking of bullies, Grey’s Anatomy star Jake Borelli somehow winds up giving a lift to the dude who tortured him at school in The Thing About Harry, and it seems a lot has changed in the intervening years since they graduated.

You’ll have a chance to catch two of the starriest queer films of the year in Ammonite, featuring Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan, and Supernova, starring Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci. Gorgeous lesbian romance Two of Us is France’s Oscar hopeful, featuring two older women living in adjacent apartments who are concealing their years-long relationship from their families. You can also explore secretive mature-age romance in the lush Hong Kong-set Suk Suk, all the more haunting for the trouble that has torn at the fabric of this great city. Plus the food scenes are gonna make you seriously hungry. And No Hard Feelings, the vibrant Berlin International Film Festival 2020 Teddy Award-winner, is an absolutely gorgeous film about young love, immigrant identity and indelible friendship.

We can’t wait to see Bring Down the Walls, a doco recalling Paris is Burning that explores the lasting legacy of Black, Latinx and queer culture on 1980s house music and its connection to the US prison industrial complex. Bingeable six-part miniseries Anne+ is an absolute treat. It follows the romantic misadventures of the Anne in question as she dates a series of rebounds after breaking up with girlfriend Lily, with things never running as smooth as she might have hoped. Tearjerker Cowboys features a dad who runs off into the wilds of Montana with his trans son when the young boy is brutally rejected by his mum (played against type by Brittany Runs a Marathon star Jillian Bell). The Handmaid’s Tale fans will also get a kick out of seeing Anne Dowd as the cop in hot pursuit.

With all this and so much more to see, either at home or in cinema, this Mardi Gras Film Festival is sure to be one to remember. You can check out the full program here

Love queer cinema? Also check out End of the Century in cinemas now.

By: Stephen A Russell

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