8 hidden gems at this year’s Mardi Gras Film Festival

8 hidden gems at this year’s Mardi Gras Film Festival
Image: Still from Malila: The Secret Flower. Image: supplied.

The 2019 Mardi Gras Film Festival is now underway, with these eight hidden gems in the 2019 program set to shine over the next two weeks of films.

Every year it’s difficult to choose what to see, especially this year given the 120-plus films in this year’s program.

If you’re wondering what to see at the Mardi Gras Film Festival 2019, here are just some of the diverse, under-the-radar LGBTI stories to check out in this year’s line-up:


Sun 24 Feb @ 1:30pm

To the outside world Maria Irene Fornes is either hailed as “the greatest writer you’ve never heard of” or dismissed as “Susan Sontag’s ex-lover”. During the 2000s, she stopped writing, and couldn’t figure out why. When fellow writer Michelle Memran realised dementia was causing the once-prolific playwright’s faltering productivity, she began filming their time together. The resulting beautiful and heartbreaking film provides an insight into Fornes’ endless and undervalued talent, and the absolute tragedy of Alzheimer’s disease.

Click here for tickets to The Rest I Make Up.


Friday 15 Feb @ 7pm

Kat (Natalia Tena) and Eva (Oona Chaplin) live a carefree, bohemian life in London with few responsibilities. After the death of a beloved pet, a restless Eva announces that she wants to have a baby, and Kat’s visiting friend Roger (David Verdaguer) willingly agrees to be the sperm donor. Fearful of losing the woman she loves, Kat goes along with the idea despite her misgivings. An incredibly relatable film, full of heart, humour and authenticity.

Click here for tickets to Anchor & Hope.


Monday 25 Feb @ 7pm – Film + Panel

In this sapphic answer to The Celluloid Closet, the trailblazing female alumni of queer academia, activism, and filmmaking  – including B. Ruby Rich, Barbara Hammer, Sarah Schulman, Su Friedrich, Rose Troche, Yoruba Richen, Desiree Akhavan, Vicky Du, and Cheryl Dunye  – share their insight into, and humorous take on, the transformation of queer representation and the history of lesbian cinema. A documentary that honours the many ways female directors have forged their own space on screen.

Screening followed by what promises to be a lively panel discussion which dives even deeper into the lesbian films that shaped so many of our lives. Hosting the panel is academic Deb Verhoeven. Panelists include filmmaker Alissar Gazal (producer of short film Concern for Welfare, screening as part of ‘Lesbian Shorts’), filmmaker Julie Kalceff and academic and former MGFF programmer Megan Carrigy.

Click here for tickets to Dykes, Camera, Action!.


Wed 20 Feb @ 8:30pm

This touching and wryly funny British film follows the burgeoning relationship between an ageing drag queen, Jackie (Derren Nesbitt) and Faith (Jordan Stephens), a newbie who joins the lineup at the Brighton nightclub where Jackie performs. Despite the age difference, they form a friendship that changes them both. Winner of the Best Narrative Audience Award and the International Feature Grand Jury Prize at Outfest 2018, this film is a quiet gem about what it means to find your queer family.

Click here for tickets to Tucked.


Mon 18 Feb @ 7:30pm 

Zen, is a rowdy yet solitary 16-year-old living in a small village on top of the Italian Apennines. Perceived as the only girl on the local ice hockey team, Zen’s differences and masculinity draw both animosity and curiosity from the other kids. When Vanessa – the beautiful and bewildered girlfriend of the team captain – runs away from home and hides in Zen’s family lodge, the two begin to learn more of each other and themselves in their exploration of desire and identity.

Click here for tickets to Zen in the Ice Rift.


Tue 26 Feb @ 8:30pm

Ticketing: bit.ly/MaliaCP

A poetic and meditative depiction of love, loss, and the fragility of life set in rural Thailand shows former lovers Shane and Pitch reunite in their home village after years apart. As they reconnect, they start to release themselves from the burdens of the past as they deal with Pitch’s impending death from terminal cancer. Lyrical and sincere, visionary director Anucha Boonyawatana delivers a film with a cathartic conclusion, rich with memorable imagery, beauty and symbolism.

Click here for tickets to Malila: The Farewell Flower.


Tue 19 Feb @ 11am (special matinee price of $10 tickets) & Saturday 23 Feb @ 6pm

In the Golden Age of Hollywood it seems everyone from Cary Grant to Katharine Hepburn had same-sex lovers and the man setting it up (and quite often joining in) was Scotty Bowers, who worked from a lowly LA garage to match up hustlers with big names in the movie business. Now in his nineties, Bowers reflects on his somewhat salacious past. At the end of viewing this doco, you may feel a little dirty, but he’d be totally fine with that.

Click here for tickets to Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood.

Ponyboi – Free Screening and Q&A

Mon Feb 25 @ 6:30 PM (free) & with Sidney and Friends Sat Feb 23 @ 3pm

On Valentine’s Day, Ponyboi, an Intersex sex worker, looks for love and a way out of his seedy life in New Jersey. Through a magical encounter with the man of his dreams, Ponyboi discovers his worth. Director, producer, writer and star River Gallo will be in attendance for a Q&A after the screening at this special free event.

Ponyboi, which he wrote, co-directed, and acted in, is the first narrative film created by and starring an out intersex person in the history of cinema, and is produced by British actors Stephen Fry and Emma Thompson.

Click here for tickets to Ponyboi.

Be sure to check out Festival Director Lisa Rose’s personal top five picks for more info about what to see this year. To view the full program, head to queerscreen.org.au.

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