The largest Mardi Gras Film Festival program in almost a decade will be revealed on January 19, but in the meantime, festival organisers have released details of the season’s top three events early to get film buffs primed for the two-week, 92-session program.

Opening the festival is the controversial and oft-delayed Hollywood gay prison caper I Love You, Philip Morris – a film that Australian audiences will finally get to see for the first time exactly two years after its initial overseas festival screenings.

“It did Cannes and Sundance in 2009, but only just opened in the US in December, which is why the Australian release has been so delayed, as we had to wait for American cinemas to screen it before we could,” explained Festival Director Lex Lindsay.

When news of the film first broke several years ago, some gay pundits were nervous at the prospect of a Jim Carrey-lead gay romance set in prison. But Lindsay has seen the finished product and says it doesn’t disappoint.

“It’s such an amazing true story. There’s no romantic happy ending, because (Carrey’s character) Steven Russell is still in prison serving multiple life terms. He’s such a lovely guy, but also a compulsive liar and a sociopath,” Lindsay told the Star Observer.

“It’s great to have a gay lead character who’s a bit of a bad guy – we often deprive our gay lead characters of being bad, which is condescending. We’re not all Harvey Milks and sweet cowboys!”

He also stressed that, with Australian distribution for the film yet to be secured, the Mardi Gras Film Festival’s opening night could be the only opportunity for local audiences to see it on the big screen.

Closing the festival is the Australian premiere of gay director Gregg Araki’s latest offering, Kaboom, a film that’s been described as ‘pansexual, existentialist sci-fi’.

Lindsay said Araki’s film is “a return to his earlier work like Doom Generation and Fucked Up – more edgy and offbeat. The narrative may not make a whole lot of sense, but it’s more about the beauty of the images and the bodies on screen.”

And those local for a fix of local content can look no further than My Queer Career, a seven-strong program of diverse Australian short films, including several award winners.

“Because My Queer Career was so incredibly strong, we took the rest of the runners-up and made another program of shorts called Great Australian Bites. And there’s also a beautiful Australian documentary about the journey of an intersex woman, called Orchids.”

The Mardi Gras Film Festival runs February 17 – March 3. Tickets for Opening Night, Closing Night and My Queer Career are on sale now.


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