THERE are a few reasons why Paul Struthers loves his gig as the Mardi Gras Film Festival director.

However, one stood out more than others: the importance of showcasing Australian queer films.

“It is of utmost importance for people to see their own lives and stories on screen,” he said.

It can educate and inspire young and budding local filmmakers — particularly queer filmmakers — and give them the hope that one day they, too, could be in the same position.”

Struthers said the festival’s Australian short film session, My Queer Career, was always highlight.

“Talented artists who have come out of this session have gone onto win major awards, and produce great features,” he said.

Broadly speaking, Struthers said this year’s festival has “love” as a prevalent theme and features more arthouse-style films than ever before.

“I am a massive arthouse cinema fan and, luckily for us, the last year of queer cinema has included a wealth of these type of films,” he said.

He highlighted South Korean lesbian drama A Girl At My Door, Kenyan film Stories of Our Lives and avant-garde film Castanha as arthouse examples in the line-up.

Struthers said other highlights of the festival included the first-ever queer feature film from Sri Lanka and world premieres of Australian movies Drown and All About E. There’s also the national premiere of Skin Deep, another Australian movie that had its world premiere at the Austin Film Festival.

Struthers was also particularly excited about the 10th anniversary screening of gay cowboy movie Brokeback Mountain, which won three Academy Awards and stars Australia’s Heath Ledger.

“I couldn’t go past Brokeback Mountain,” he said.

“This is a must on the big screen — we couldn’t not have shown it.”

With the level of visibility LGBTI characters featured in mainstream films, the Star Observer asked Struthers whether there was still a need for LGBTI-themed films to continue being produced.

“They will be vital until we are seen as equal to the straight world,” he said.

“The increase of visibility has been great of late, but there is still a long way to go.”

The Mardi Gras Film Festival is until March 5. Details and tickets: click here

**This article was first published in the March edition of the Star Observer, which is available to read in digital flip-book format. To obtain a physical copy, click here to find out where you can grab one in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Canberra and select regional/coastal areas.

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