THE Melbourne Queer Film Festival has announced its award recipients for 2014, coming at the end of a festival that saw overall growth in ticket sales despite a failure to meet set sales targets.

Festival director Lisa Daniel told the Star Observer reception of the films in this year’s program had been overwhelmingly positive.

“Me being in the front line I usually cop it. If things aren’t popular I certainly get it fed straight back to me,” she said.

Although ticket sales were lower than expected, Daniel said MQFF has seen a positive change in audiences’ willingness to see more foreign language and arthouse films, with screenings of a number of foreign language films selling out.

She argued digital downloads have probably had an impact on ticket sales, but the impact of those figures was still unknown.

“Ticket sales slightly up on last year but we didn’t make ticket budget, so we need to have a think about how people see films these days. I’ve had a lot of feedback where you say to people, where are your friends, and they say they’ve downloaded everything,” Daniel said.

“It’s a threat to all film festivals. I don’t really have a great problem with people downloading Game of Thrones, but I do have a bit of a problem with people downloading independent, small-budget films.”

Throughout this year’s MQFF Daniel has been open about the difficulty of encouraging lesbians to attend the festival, despite critically-acclaimed films like Who’s Afraid of Vagina Wolf? featuring prominently in programming aimed at lesbian audiences.

“Ticket sales were down for lesbian sessions — I do tend to see the same faces every year. So that’s disappointing,” Daniel said.

One very successful film in the festival was the Australian film 52 Tuesdays, about a daughter whose mother is transitioning gender to become a trans* man, which won the audience choice award for Best Feature Film.

Other audience award-winners included Best Documentary Bridegroom, and Best Australian Short Film The Language of Love.

The MQFF jury awards for Best Australian Short Queer Films went to The Last Time I Saw Richard and Trunk.

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