THE 2015 edition of Queer Screen Film Fest will feature another line-up of films, documentaries, short films and animated films from all corners of the world.

[showads ad=MREC]Brought to you by the same team behind the annual Mardi Gras Film Festival, the smaller Queer Screen Film Fest features features 12 screenings across five days at Sydney’s Event Cinemas George Street.

Once more, the LGBTI-themed films in the line-up feature a mix of Hollywood names and emerging directors and stars. From the opening night screening of Boulevard (Robin Williams’ last film before his death) to the closing night film of Freeheld (starring Julianne Moore and Ellen Page) there is something for everyone.

The festival begins tonight (September 22) and concludes on Sunday (September 27). Visit Queer Screen’s website for the full list of films to see. Many of the films in the line-up are either already sold out or selling fast. Here are Star Observer’s picks:

The Foxy Merkins

The Foxy Merkins 1

From the team behind the much-loved Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same including director/co-writer Madeline Olnek, comes their next quirky comedy The Foxy Merkins.

Margaret (Lisa Haas) is a down-on-her-luck asthmatic lesbian hooker in training. Hanging out on the streets of New York and sleeping in a public bathroom, she meets Jo (Jackie Monahan), a beautiful heterosexual grifter, who unlike Margaret is an expert at picking up women. Working the streets together they encounter an array of bizarre characters from husky-voiced seductresses to mumbling erotic accessory salesmen and a plethora in between.

A delightfully absurd buddy movie that premiered at Sundance and was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award, The Foxy Merkins pays homage and makes fun of iconic male hustler movies like My Own Private Idaho and Midnight Cowboy in a hilariously subversive way.

Screening Friday, September 25 at 7.30pm. Details

_____________________

Guidance

Guidance 1

A story about a drunk, washed-up and deadbeat child actor pretending to be a qualified high school guidance counsellor, Guidance will send audiences into hysterics. Pat Mills’ debut as writer-director-star showcases his many talents, and audiences will be delighted to follow his character, David Gold (played by himself), as he adventures into a spiral of self-delusion/destruction.

On the brink of being evicted, told he is dying of stage three skin cancer and recently unemployed, Gold lands a position at a high school. Armed with a corduroy jacket, a vodka flask and research from a YouTube video, he provides “Roland’s” unorthodox techniques to his troubled students. Much to his delight, Gold finds adoration in his students especially with Jabrielle, whose self-esteem has been butchered by her mother’s abuse, and to the ire of the school’s teachers. Their supportive relationship leads them down a fugitive-fleeing path as his web of deceit begins to unwrap around him.

At the height of Gold’s self-denial is his charming positive affirmation monologues such as “you will beat this skin cancer with cigarettes and tanning” or “you are not gay, you just have a gentle voice”. But his out-of-control spiral leads him to a surprisingly refreshing self-realisation.

An audience’s favourite at the Toronto Film Festival, Guidance tackles the corrupt-the-youth comedy with a character that is surprisingly warm and amusing. Gold’s performance is witty and sharp, the Toronto-shot scenes are picturesque and the electronics-heavy music makes this film a night to remember.

This film is presented with the Star Observer.

Screening Friday, September 25 at 6.45pm. Details

_____________________

Margarita, with a Straw

Margarita with a Straw 3

A story rarely seen on screen, Margarita, with a Straw follows Delhi-based university student Laila (Kalki Koechlin) on her journey of self-discovery, independence and sexual awakening.

Laila, a talented writer is a wheelchair user with cerebral palsy, but although society and those around her may treat her differently, she never lets it get in her way as she strives to find love, success and a fulfilled life. Living with her close-knit family and pining after the cute boy in a band she writes lyrics for, everything changes when she scores herself a scholarship to university in New York. Travelling with her mother, it is there that she meets Khanum, a blind out lesbian of Pakistani and Bangladeshi descent who Laila unexpectedly finds herself falling for.

Indian co-writer/director Shonali Bose was inspired by Malini, her super-achiever cousin with cerebral palsy, who when asked what she wanted for her 40th birthday, had simply said she wanted to have sex. From this Bose was determined to tell a story that didn’t short change the thoughts, desires and wants of a woman with cerebral palsy.

Winner of numerous festival awards, including the Audience Award at Frameline in San Francisco, this is a film that shines a light on a character that deserves her story to be told.

Screening Saturday, September 26, 3pm. Details

_____________________

In the Grayscale

In the Grayscale 1

 

Bruno seems to have the perfect life: outrageously handsome, a successful architect, married with a son, and living in Santiago, Chile. However, his world is turned upside down when he meets the vibrant Fernando, a tourist guide assigned to help him on a new architecture project.

Their sexual tension is palpable, with Fernando pursuing a cautious Bruno, leading to some erotically-charged moments in the film’s first act. Yet there’s more than a marriage marking an unspeakable boundary between the two men, as Bruno tries to navigate his own understanding of sexuality in the midst of Fernando’s black and white opinions – he believes there’s gay or straight, and nothing in between.

Director Claudio Marcone follows these two men walking the tenuous line between being a real couple and divided by the complexities of sexuality, filling the screen with cinematography imbued with an intimate softness. The conversations between Bruno and Fernando are beautifully played by the lead actors, in naturalistic performances that are just as much about reading between the lines as in the words they openly exchange. In the Grayscale is a strikingly shot, sensual and tender drama exploring the grey areas between loving men or women, or both.

Screening Saturday, September 26, 8.30pm. Details

_____________________

Kate Bornstein is a Queer and Pleasant Danger

Kate Bornstein 4

For decades, performance artist and writer Kate Bornstein has been exploding binaries and deconstructing gender. Now, in a playful, whirlwind documentary, audiences will see this incredible human and the journey she has taken in her quest for life’s purpose.

Kate Bornstein is a Queer and Pleasant Danger focuses on her multiplicity of complex identities, capturing her public performances and work to dismantle gender with wit and style. The documentary also tells a thoughtful tale of Bornstein’s personal life – through the film, Kate confronts her own mortality and purpose in life, giving particular urgency to her motto: “Do whatever it takes to make your life worth living. Just don’t be mean.”

For director Sam Feder, the value of Bornstein is in the loud and proud queerness she refuses to give up: “For some, assimilation is the answer; for others that’s a slow, painful, death. Kate has given me language, permission, and space to figure out my gender and how to move in the world.” The New York-based Feder has toured internationally, hosting screenings and discussions of their work, since 2007.

This film was also named one of the best LGBT documentaries of 2014 by The Advocate, the leading LGBT publication of the US.

Screening Sunday, September 27, 3pm. Details

_____________________

Freeheld

freeheld

Be one of the first in the world to see this major new film, straight from its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Freeheld is based on a true story that made headlines in 2007. Oscar winner Julianne Moore stars as New Jersey Police Detective Laurel Hester, whose world is shattered when she becomes terminally ill and government officials prevent her from assigning her pension to her partner, Stacie Andree (openly-gay actress and Oscar nominee, Ellen Page).

During her career, Laurel had kept her sexual orientation a secret, fearing discrimination. Outside of work she fell in love and built a life with Stacie. After being diagnosed, Laurel braved coming out of the closet to request that Stacie be granted the same rights as a heterosexual partner, whereby upon the death of a police officer, their spouse is eligible to receive the officer’s pension. But the conservative county commissioners (known as freeholders) refused her request, citing religious and budgetary reasons. In this heartrending and inspiring story, Laurel spends her last days fighting to overrule the decision as fellow police officers and larger-than-life, gay political activist Steven Goldstein (Steve Carell) rally to Laurel’s cause.

From the writer of Philadelphia and producers of Erin Brockovich, Freeheld is a film about how a personal quest borne of love becomes a greater fight for social justice.

Closing film night. Screening Sunday, September 27, 6pm. Details

_____________________

The Star Observer is a proud media partner of Queer Screen Film Fest.

For full festival details and more film options, visit Queer Screen’s website

[showads ad=FOOT]

© Star Observer 2021 | For the latest in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, be sure to visit starobserver.com.au daily. You can also read our latest magazines or Join us on our Facebook page and Twitter feed.