On Sunday the 15th of March, all ticket holders for Melbourne Queer Film Festival, were notified via email that remaining sessions as of Monday the 16th would be postponed.
The festival had been well received by the public over its first few days, however, with growing concerns among many within our community, the MQFF team decided it was in everyone’s best interests that this year’s program be suspended. The decision will also affect all regional programs in Geelong, Bendigo, Shepparton, Ballarat, and Morwell.
Reaching out to Star Observer, program director Spiro Economopoulos said:
“Obviously we at MQFF are all devastated but it felt like the right call. Our community’s safety and well-being are the priority.”
On opening night many people in the audience remarked that if there was one community that knew how to survive an epidemic, it was ours, and that the festival should be commended for its handling of the situation including measures it took to maintain the health and safety of its patrons across opening days.
However, with the number of LGBTQI people deemed to be at a higher risk of contracting Coronavirus (COVID-19), it is simply not the time to continue as if it were ‘business as usual’.
In a statement released by CEO Maxwell Gratton on Sunday evening, he reflected:
“The festival has had good support from the community in its first few days, however, there is a number in our community who are anxious about COVID19 and being in public spaces.”
“Our mission is to bring the important stories of LGBTIQ communities to the screen for everyone to enjoy, and we cannot fully realise this mission in the current climate.”
Melbourne Queer Film Festival is not alone, joining the likes of Arts Centre Melbourne, Victorian State Library, NGV, and Melbourne International Comedy Festival who have all closed their doors over the weekend.
With MQFF this year celebrating its 30th year, its postponement is all the more devastating. Needless to say, these are unprecedented times we are living in – our wellbeing must come first.
The MQFF team will, in upcoming weeks, work out the next steps for the festival which may include rescheduling the event for a later date or providing other options for ticketholders.
They will be in contact with all current members and ticketholders as more information comes to hand.
More info at the MQFF website.