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Mardi Gras Film Festival

  • Film, Film festivals
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  1. Queer Screen MGFF 2023
    Photograph: Supplied/The Winner Takes it All
  2. Queer Screen MGFF 2023
    Photograph: Supplied/Of An Age
  3. Queer Screen MGFF 2023
    Photograph: Supplied/The Venus Effect

Time Out says

Queer Screen is celebrating 30 years of this fabulous flick fest with a bumper program of docos, shorts and movies

Grab the rainbow popcorn – Queer Screen is gearing up for one of the biggest Mardi Gras Film Festival programs to date. In a serendipitous meet-cute, the 30th anniversary of this landmark LGBTQ+ cinematic bonanza lines up perfectly with Sydney WorldPride festival. (So in other words, gird your loins for a super-sized Gay Christmas!)

Celebrating the best of homegrown and international queer storytelling, this year Mardi Gras Film Festival promises to “awaken all the senses”. Running for 16 days from February 15 to March 2, there’s a whopping 166 films screening across more than 100 sessions in cinema, outdoors and on-demand at home – as well as hosting panel discussions, workshops, industry networking events, international guests and parties.

The festival opens with the Sydney Premiere of the electrifying Australian drama Of An Age, from rising star Goran Stolevski. The film which is guaranteed to become a classic, stars Thom Green (Dance Academy) and Elias Anton (Barracuda) in a phenomenal coming of age romance about a Serbian-Australian teen developing intense feelings for his friend’s older brother (Feb 15, Event Cinemas George St). The Australian premiere of The Venus Effect will close the festivities, a delightful Danish romance about two young women daring to love each other and themselves (Mar 2, Event Cinemas George St).

In between, there’s more cinematic brilliance happening than we could ever hope to wrap up here. But we’ve teased out some hot picks below.

There’s some homegrown films making their world premieres, including Trans Glamoré, a Sydney-set documentary following transgender DJ Victoria Anthony as she perseveres through Covid’s challenges to organise a unique and stunning show for trans women, created by trans women. It will be screening alongside The Accidental Archivist, a short about Julie Peters, the first trans woman to run for Victorian State parliament (Feb 20, Event Cinemas George St).

Also having its world premiere is The Winner Takes It All, featuring much loved Australian drag queen and RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under alum Maxi Shield. In this camp comedy reminiscent of the works of John Waters, made by an almost entirely LGBTIQ+ team, a wealthy socialite and her best friend take justice into their own hands when she discovers her ex-gigolo husband is cheating on her (Feb 18, Event Cinemas George St). 

There’s also a special event celebrating the groundbreaking queer legacy of Aussie television, where a special camptastic episode of ’70s soap Number 96 will screen along with a brand new documentary, Outrageous: The Queer History of Australian TV, followed by an in-depth discussion between TV historian Andrew Mercado and actor Joe Hasham, who played the first series regular gay character on TV (Feb 16, Event Cinemas George St). 

If you’re a sucker for Cate Blanchett in a sapphic role, an unmissable event is the screening of Tár against the backdrop of the stunning Sydney Harbour at Westpac OpenAir. Our Cate delivers a ferocious, career-best performance as intimidating lesbian maestro Lydia Tár in this acclaimed, award-winning film (Feb 19, Westpac OpenAir).

There’s also a free screening of two brand new queer stand-up specials – Joel Creasey: Queen of the Outback, filmed in front of a live audience at the 2022 Broken Heel Festival, and Rhys Nicholson’s Big Queer Comedy Concert, featuring a cast of comedy superstars including Urzila Carlson, Geraldine Hickey, Cassie Workman and Chris Parker. The screening will be introduced by Joel and Rhys (Feb 16, Event Cinemas George St).

The festival will screen at eight venues across Sydney including Event Cinemas (George Street and Hurstville), Dendy Cinema (Newtown), Hayden Orpheum (Cremorne) and Ritz Cinemas (Randwick), Casula Powerhouse, the Westpac Open Air Cinema and the Alumni Green at the University of Technology (Broadway) with evening and matinee screenings.

Tickets and passes for MGFF23 are on sale now. Queer Screen memberships are also available and offer discounted tickets and priority entry. Visit, or the Queer Screen Mardi Gras Film Festival app, or call (02) 9280 1533 to book. 

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Alannah Le Cross
Written by
Alannah Le Cross


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