Goran Stolevski On Growing Up Gay In Melbourne And His New Film Housekeeping For Beginners

Goran Stolevski On Growing Up Gay In Melbourne And His New Film Housekeeping For Beginners
Image: Goran Stolevski. Photo: Rich McDonald/ Supplied

Goran Stolevski burst into the limelight when his debut narrative feature You Won’t Be Alone premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival and was selected as Australia’s entry for Best International Feature Film Academy Awards. 

The Macedonian-born Australian filmmaker’s sophomore effort Of An Age (2022), a tender and intense gay romance set in Melbourne, established him as a rising star. Stolevski now returns with his third feature Housekeeping For Beginners, which was submitted as Macedonia’s entry for the Best International Film category at the Oscars and won the coveted Queer Lion award at the Venice Film Festival. 

Following its Melbourne premiere at the 2023 Melbourne Queer Film Festival, Housekeeping For Beginners, makes its much-awaited Sydney premiere at the Mardi Gras Film Festival. 

In a wide-ranging interview on the phone ahead of the Melbourne screenings, Stolevski spoke to Star Observer about Housekeeping For Beginners, the intersections of art and identity and the universal language of films.

Story Of Love, Loss Resilience 

“It’s my third feature film, and I made it in Macedonia, where I grew up,” said Stolevski. “It’s about a household of people who are kind of living together by necessity. The main character is a gay woman who inherited the house from her father, and she lets other queer people stay there after they’ve been kicked out of the home, including her partner. When the partner receives a terminal diagnosis, they face a life-altering decision. It’s a story of love, loss, and the resilience of the human spirit.

While the film has received overwhelming critical buzz, Stolevski said that it’s often harder for subtitled films without massive international stars. However, screening at queer festivals is liberating, the filmmaker said. 

“With a queer audience, there’s a shared understanding. You don’t have to emphasise an asterisk next to LGBTQI+ stories; people understand the universal elements. It’s liberating to know that my audience is looking at the film through the right lens, where there are no ‘minority feelings.'”

Growing Up Gay In Melbourne

When asked about the state of queer rights in Macedonia, Stolevski candidly remarked, “It’s barely a step above Russia. Legal rights can only do so much in a country where legal systems often fail. Anti-discrimination laws exist, but they don’t necessarily protect individuals from harassment. Openly LGBTQI public figures in Macedonia are still few, and the situation is challenging, especially outside urban areas.”

Stolevski moved with his family to Melbourne at the age of 12. Growing up gay in an immigrant household, the world of films offered Stolevski an escape. “I was a bit of a loner and took solace in movies,” Stolevski shared. “Art served as a mental and emotional safe space. I came out in high school, and I had the support of my parents, who are from a conservative background but believe in unconditional love. I consider myself lucky.”

Melbourne’s reputation as a progressive city did play a role in Stolevski’s experience, but he stressed the importance of economic privilege in navigating the LGBTQI journey. “I guess I was very lucky. But there are a lot of kids who were in my position who were far less lucky and still are a lot less lucky.”

“A lot of the time when we talk about LGBTQI rights and progress, we don’t realise that we’re just talking about rights and progress among the wealthy compared to other countries,” said Stolevski, adding, “Even within Australia, there are areas outside of that bubble of economic privilege where it’s still difficult to come out. Many LGBTQI individuals continue to face hardships, and we shouldn’t forget about them when discussing progress.”

As for his family’s reaction to his recent success, Stolevski said with a chuckle, “They’ve been incredibly supportive. They’ve witnessed my 20-year journey in the film industry and know the effort and determination it took. Their understanding of the hardships makes the success all the more meaningful.”

Goran Stolevski’s Housekeeping For Beginners is the closing film of Queer Screen’s Mardi Gras Film Festival 2024 and plays at Event Cinemas, George Street on February 29, 2024. For more details click here. 


You May Also Like

Comments are closed.