ONE of the many great things about the Mardi Gras Film Festival is all the vibrant stories the Queer Screen teams brings us every year from all over the world.
In these times of political turbulence, it has never been more important to have access to stories about LGBTQI people and communities far afield from our own.
In addition to the tremendous, must-see Moonlight, which we reviewed here, and the films we highlighted in our January issue, these films will screen as part of MGFF from February 15 to March 2 2017.
Angry Indian Goddesses
First runner-up for the Toronto International Film Festival’s People’s Choice Award in 2015, this film has been described as “India’s first female buddy pic”. When a group of women descends on Frieda’s holiday house in Goa, the impromptu bachelorette party turns dark after they are harassed by a group of men. The film uses the women as a microcosm of the misogyny Indian women face, and as is custom at cinematic gatherings, secrets are revealed and things go off the rails. Homosexuality remains criminalised in India which makes Angry Indian Goddesses extremely timely. This year’s Asia Pacific Queer Film Festival Alliance Shorts session also features The Threshold, a short film about an Indian teenager struggling with his gender identity.
One Night and Two Days
Leesong Hee-il, director of what is generally considered South Korea’s first gay film No Regrets, made this trilogy back in 2012 and it is finally screening in Australia. Comprised of a feature film and two short films, each intimate and beautifully shot story provides a different insight into gay life in Korea. A high school teacher battling attraction to a former student; a chance overnight encounter between a wounded traveller and a younger bike courier; and two men who met during mandatory army service reconnect in an uncomfortable way. For those interested in a female perspective on South Korean queer relationships would do well to check out Our Love Story as well.
Out of Iraq
With Australia’s dire treatment of refugees dominating the news, Out of Iraq couldn’t come at a better time. Working as a translator during the US occupation of Iraq, Nayyef met Iraqi soldier Btoo and the pair fell in love. The documentary follows their experiences as LGBTQI asylum seekers as they sought to be reunited in the United States, highlighting the many ways in which the system failed to accommodate their needs.
Bemz Benedito dreams of becoming the Philippines’ first transgender member of congress. With the world’s only LGBT political party Ladlad behind her, the party saw a mobilisation of hairdressers and beauty queens in a historic push for queer representation in the Philippines. Given that the country is considered one of the most gay-friendly in the world, the discrimination Ladlad members receive is surprising but their activism is never less than inspirational. Having played at a raft of film festivals from all over the world, this is one to watch.
Women and the Word: The Revival
Women and the Word: The Revival follows five queer women of colour on their Kickstarter-funded tour across eight cities, featuring poetry and music celebrating their identities and creating a space in which their messages can be shared without reprisal. Featuring Jade Foster, Be Steadwell, Jonquille Rice, T’ai Freedom Ford, and Eli Turner, the documentary also features interviews with leading black feminists. It’s a reminder of the importance of intersectional viewpoints and art’s capacity for affirmation and reflection. Excitingly, Be Steadwell will be a guest of the festival and will perform live in the festival bar following its screening.