A film festival has been a staple in the life of LGBTQIA+ Sydney since the very first Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, and this year is no exception.
Sydney’s LGBTQIA+ film festival began in 1978 as the Gay and Lesbian Film Festival and was run by the Australian Film Institute, growing into the Sydney Gay Film Week by 1986.
Queer Screen took over the event in 1993 and has been running it for the community ever since as the Mardi Gras Film Festival.
This year the festival will span 25 days, with both in person and online screenings throughout Mardi Gras and into March.
From February 15 to 29, Sydney will witness a diverse program of 161 films and events across 77 distinct programs.
For those who prefer to join the conversation from home, Queer Screen will offer a curated on-demand program available as an encore from March 1 to 11.
The festival will kick off with British neo-thriller FEMME, starring Nathan Stewart-Jarrett and George MacKay, which follows a drag queen who is given the opportunity to take revenge following a homophobic attack.
Down Low, starring Zachary Quinto and written and starring Lukas Gage, is a hilarious black comedy about a sex worker and his client and the antics that ensue when they have to hide a dead body.
To close the festival Housekeeping for Beginners by Macedonian Australian filmmaker Goran Stolevski will have its Sydney premier, and explores the importance of chosen family.
The film won the Queer Lion at last year’s Venice Film Festival and tells the story of a woman who finds herself compelled to raise her girlfriend’s two daughters.
As their individual wills clash, a heartwarming story unfolds about an unlikely family’s struggle to stay together.
Throughout the festival, viewers will enjoy Australian and international premieres, Aussie-centred showcases and 4K restorations of original films from the 1980s and 1990s.
As always, the Mardi Gras Film Festival will be showcasing as many queer stories as possible, ranging from drag performers, stories from gender queer and non-binary filmmakers, and events from queer history.
This year Queer Screen will hold its first ever event at the Sydney Opera House with Music from Queer Film being performed by the Sydney Cello Quartet in the Playhouse Theatre with music from iconic queer films such as Priscilla: Queen of the Desert and Moonlight.
The festival will also feature a special sing-along screening of The Sound of Music, presented with The Sisters and Brothers of The Order of Perpetual Indulgence Sydney and the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Choir.
This year’s festival will span nine venues across Sydney including Event Cinemas (George Street and Hurstville), The Ritz Cinema (Randwick), Dendy Cinemas (Newtown), the Hayden Orpheum (Cremorne), the Westpac OpenAir Cinema, the Bearded Tit (Redfern) and the Sydney Opera House.
The festival brands itself as “ready to start a conversation” in 2024, and encourages the audience to indulge in good old fashioned discussion around the films being showcased.
“The theme [this year] focuses on films that start conversations. People will be keen to discuss and dissect them as soon as the credits start to roll,” explains Festival Director Lisa Rose.
“There’s so much to sink your teeth into, including several that will inspire lively debate.”
“On behalf of Queer Screen, I extend my heartfelt thanks to all of our partners, whose support has a direct and positive impact on filmmakers and audience members alike,” says Queer Screen Co-Chair Abs Osseiran.
The State Library of NSW will also be offering some panel discussions during the festival for viewers looking to get more of an insight into the films on show.
-Tickets can be purchased via www.queerscreen.org.au
QNews is proud to be a Media Partner with the 2024 Mardi Gras Film Festival
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