The Melbourne Queer Film Festival looks west for the third year running this August for West Hollywood, a weekend-long mini-festival that acts as a fundraiser for the main MQFF festival in March while also servicing queers who live in Yarraville and surrounds.
“There is a fairly large queer population living in the west now, in places like Seddon, Yarraville and Footscray. It’s a great, ‘villagey’ part of the world,” Festival Director Lisa Daniel told the Star Observer.
Running from Friday 23 to Sunday 25 August at Yarraville’s gorgeous art deco Sun Theatre, the weekend of film should also entice more than a few city-dwelling queer film lovers out west for a session or two.
“We have a lot of anecdotal evidence from people who attend the main festival that they enjoy venturing out west to see a film and making an excursion of it – finding good places to eat and drink before and after the movie. It’s a novel experience if you don’t head out west too often,” Daniel said.
An undoubted highlight of the festival is local director Lee Galea’s moving coming-of-age drama Monster Pies, a film that seems tailor-made for the festival: not only is it an Australian-made queer feature film, it was shot entirely in the suburbs west of Melbourne. Galea will be on hand for an audience Q&A after the screening.
“It won the Audience Choice Award for Best Feature at the main festival in March, so it made perfect sense to feature it as a key screening,” Daniel said.
“And it’s just so rare we get to screen a queer Australian feature! We had two at this year’s [MQFF], including Lee’s. When you get a package into the office that says ‘Melbourne feature’, you do get very excited. To get two this year that made the cut, one of which won an award – hopefully it might inspire a few more filmmakers.”
Another treat for fans of Australian independent cinema is the Sunday Oz Shorts session, including offerings from eight homegrown talents – at least half of whom will be at the screening to answer questions. In keeping with MQFF’s brief to get as many people as possible to see Australian cinema, there is no admission fee for the session – be sure to turn up early to secure your seat.
Documentary lovers will enjoy Love Free or Die, a US doco on Gene Robinson, who became the first openly gay Christian bishop to become consecrated in the Christian world; and United in Anger: A History of ACT UP, an in-depth look at the birth of the AIDS activist movement.
Working hard to get the balance right, Daniel also decided to throw an old favourite into the mix to open the festival, 2005 bed-hopping comedy Goldfish Memory.
“It did incredibly well at the festival and it’s really hard to get on DVD, so we thought that we’d give it another run. Finding old stuff is really challenging – it’s hard contact people to get permissions, and it’s hard to get screening copies of old stuff, but I’m glad we’ve managed it as the film is a lot of fun.”
INFO: West Hollywood, Sun Theatre Yarraville August 23-25. Full program at www.mqff.com.au