Winners of The Melbourne Queer Film Festival announced this week include Laura Nagy who won the Best Director Award at for her short film Hook Up; and best documentary went to Belonging, directed by Matt Scholten, a short film telling the story of two generations of LGBTQI activists, Sam Watson and Rodney Croome, and the transformation of gay rights in Tasmania.

The Melbourne Queer Film Festival awarded its Australian Short Film Awards on social media after it was forced to cancel screenings due to the coronavirus outbreak. The effects that have rippled around the world have hit entertainment and artists hard.

“It’s a scary time for all of us. The film industry has been so hard hit in the space of a week – almost every day we hear of another production, festival, or theatrical release shutting down. Which is for the best, of course – we have to give our medical staff and our most vulnerable people a fighting chance,” said director Laura Nagy.

“In a strange way, it’s an exciting time too. Suddenly artists find themselves with the time to create they’ve wished for (though with all sorts of new stresses, of course). It will be our role as artists to help people process this strange time; to offer both catharsis and escapism”.

In raising awareness of global issues, the film’s director was adamant in ensuring a queer representation was part of the conversation.

“In the wake of #metoo, I wanted to bring a queer perspective into the conversation. I was particularly interested in exploring how technology can impact young people exploring their sexuality. How do you keep safe when phones can be weaponised?”

Hook Up is “beautifully directed and superbly acted, an excellent study in sexual awakening, the nuance of friendship and toxic masculinity” read the jury statement.

Documentary director and writer, Matt Scholten, paid tribute to his cast and crew involved in the film and recognised the turbulent times for artists.

“At a time of such distress and darkness, this recognition for us all feels like the veritable pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and encourages and fortifies by resolve to make more work for the screen,” said Scholten.

The Screen Australia and Channel Ten funded documentary is part of the ‘Out Here‘, streaming for free on TEN Play, which also includes filmmakers Luke Cornish on “Alone Out Here” and Cadance Bell on “The Rainbow Passage”.’

MQFF winners:

The City of Melbourne Award – Best Australian Short: Black Lips – Director, Adrian Chiarella

Film Victoria Award – Best Director: Laura Nagy –  Hook Up

ME Bank Award – Emerging Filmmaker: Tommy Hart – Director,  ‘Kids on Fire’

The Pride Foundation Award – Best Australian Feature: Unsound – Director,  Ian Watson

Shaun Miller Lawyers Award – Best Documentary Short: Belonging – directed by Matt Scholten

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