BENJAMIN RILEY

Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle has presented Melbourne Queer Film Festival organisers and volunteers with a rainbow birthday cake on the steps of the Australian Centre for the Moving Image to mark the opening of the festival, which this year celebrates its 21st year.

Embracing the diversity of a festival like MQFF, Doyle told the Star Observer that the role of public art is to provoke discussion.

“That means, in many artistic endeavours, pushing envelopes,” he said.

“Now, some works, some doesn’t, but in Melbourne I’d like to think that we give it a crack.”

MQFF director Lisa Daniel was in attendance, and told SSO she hoped this year’s strong program would attract sell-out crowds.

“A lot of the Australian stuff is really good. We’ve got about 32 Australian films in the program this year, mostly shorts,” she said, discussing her festival highlights.

Daniel said that MQFF has accomplished much to be proud of in its 21-year history, including successfully enticing more lesbians into the cinema.

“It’s a little bit harder to get lesbians to the cinema than gay guys,” she said.

“[1999 German lesbian film] Aimee and Jaguar that we screened a few years ago was sold out at the Capitol cinema. We had a lot of guys there as well and seeing that sort of thing is always inspiring.”

It wouldn’t be MQFF without some controversy, and this year is no different.

Ticked-Off Trannies With Knives, a feature film from American director Israel Luna will screen as part of the festival.
The film attracted media attention last year when US GLBTI media monitoring organisation GLAAD called for it to be removed from the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival. Daniel, however, defended MQFF’s decision to screen it.

“It would have been a lot easier if we just didn’t include it, but the festival’s not really about censoring. It’s about putting things up into the program so they can be discussed,” she argued.

When asked if he’d see the controversial film the Lord Mayor wasn’t so sure.

“I don’t know about that — it might be a bit confronting for me,” Doyle said.

“But my journey may only be just beginning. When in the Moomba parade one of our drag queens Kaye Sera comes across and gives me a kiss, I think we’re making moves in the right direction.”

info: MQFF runs from March 17 – 27. For ticket information and bookings, visit www.mqff.com

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