Melbourne’s much-loved Queer Film Festival  turns 30 this month – it’s a milestone deserving of celebration. From its humble beginnings back in 1991, the festival has grown into a behemoth of fierce LGBTQI big-screen representation.  

This year’s program also asks us to reflect upon those realities found outside our own backyard. Star Observer looks at the changing face of queer cinema and the significance of the festival’s 30-year milestone.

“From starting in a backroom in Hares and Hyenas to what it is today, it really has come along,” reflects Maxwell Gratton, CEO of MQFF.

“Today [MQFF] is Australia’s largest and oldest LGBTQI Film festival and celebration of the moving image, but also Melbourne’s second-largest film festival.”

“With this year’s tag line ‘we are stories in every colour’– we’re very proud to be offering a strong program that really reflects the breadth and diversity of LGBTQI communities, both here and abroad.”

This year’s MQFF centrepiece film, And Then We Danced, is one such reflection. The film was met with violent protests upon its debut screening in Georgia, a country yet to recognise the rights of its LGBTQI citizens. Portraying such realities is unquestionably queer cinema’s strongest virtue. 




“Film critic, Roger Ebert once said that ‘Movies are empathy generating machines’, and I believe this.

We as humans can identify with the characters on screen, and that helps us understand perspectives other than our own,” says Gratton. 

“I think it’s really important for LGBTQI Australian’s to be represented as leads in their own adventures, but it’s just as important that straight audiences can connect with queer characters and see them as equals. Films and festivals like ours, play such an important role in building connections between people and communities.”

“I encourage people to attend tomorrow night’s opening night film Gay Chorus Deep South, and to celebrate 30 years of queer film with us at our iconic afterparty,”  says Gratton. 

“We’ve got so many great films this year, happening at Cinema Nova, the Jam Factory and at The Capitol Theatre, which will be a trip down memory lane for some of our patrons who may have attended screening here some years ago”.

Melbourne Queer Film Festival opens the  of March 12th and will run until March 23rd, with 140 sessions encompassing Australian and International features, documentaries and shorts, along with a slew of Q&A sessions, workshops, and parties.

For more info and to book head to the MQFF website.


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