The Mardi Gras Film Festival (MGFF) celebrates its silver jubilee this year and today launched an incredible queer film festival program that’s sure to satiate every kind of film lover.

After teasing the first 10 films in November, the 2018 program brings 55 features and a very apropos 69 short films to cinemas across Sydney, Parramatta, Canberra and the Blue Mountains.

“Screening the widest number of queer stories and giving a platform to as many different queer voices as we possibly can, particularly underrepresented voices, is our driving force this year and the reason why we are showing so many short films,” Festival Director Lisa Rose explained.

“It’s not a hard task to double the number of short packages this year as the quality of the films is exceptional. I’m also proud that three sessions include differently abled protagonists and two screenings have Open Captions.”

“In addition to showcasing our newest filmmakers, we are honouring our past through timeless classics,” Rose said, including “an unmissable My Queer Career Retrospective Gala celebrating some of the most compelling short films created here in Australia since we established My Queer Career in 1994.”

The opening night film, An Ideal Home, stars Steve Coogan and Paul Rudd as a bickering couple who have to look after the grandson they never knew they had.

A major highlight of the festival is French film BPM, widely considered one of the very best queer films of recent years, which follows a group of ACT UP AIDS activists in Paris in the early ’90s, which draws on the personal experiences of the director and writer.

4 Days in France is an unconventional road movie as a man leaves his partner and travels waywardly through the French countryside with only Grindr as a guide, exploring the intimate dynamics formed between strangers.

The Carmilla Movie, follows the gang five years after averting the end of the world, but their settled lives are disrupting as signs of the supernatural begin to return.

A Moment in the Reeds promises to be the sexiest film of the festival as a romance develops between a young Finnish man and the Syrian asylum seeker his father hires to help them renovate their summer house.

In Between follows three very different Palestinian women living in Israel fighting to find themselves in spite of the cultural and religious conservatism around them, while Just Charlie won the audience award at the Edinburgh International Film Festival for its story of a teenage soccer star wrestling with her gender identity.

As ever, MGFF brings a suite of documentaries showcasing the diversity and beauty of the LGBTI community, including Black Divaz, which follows the inaugural Miss First Nation pageant.

Another Australian doco, It’s Not Just Me, is a raw and powerful documentary exploring the under-represented stories of trans men.

A Womb of Their Own follows a similar vein on a different tack as it looks at the lives of six masculine-identified people at various stages of pregnancy.

Those looking to learn more about queer history should be sure to check out My Wonderful West Berlin and Queercore: How to Punk a Revolution.

My Queer Career returns with new Australian queer shorts, while there are shorts programs for everyone – from ‘Hot Boys Shorts’ to ‘Transgender Shorts’ to shorts showcasing queer cinema from the Asia Pacific region, plus the ‘Queerability Shorts’ which shine a light on LGBTI people with disabilities.

MGFF also gets a special early screening of the upcoming coming out drama Love, Simon which is based on the hit YA novel Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda.

Excitingly, MGFF also includes special retrospective screenings of Donna Deitch’s trail-blazing, recently restored Desert Hearts, as well as acclaimed British queer artist Isaac Julien’s Young Soul Rebels.

The festival closes with Freak Show, about the fabulous and camp Billy Bloom trying to fit in at his very normal high school after his mum (played by Bette Midler!) leaves him with his distant father.

Tickets to the festival are now on sale at queerscreen.org.au or the via the Mardi Gras Film Festival app. You can also call (02) 9280 1533 to book over the phone. Queer Screen members get discounted tickets and priority entry to films throughout the festival.

Watch the festival trailer below and browse the MGFF guide online!

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