When Chris Walters moved from Melbourne to the Victorian town of Bendigo two and a half years ago, she found herself, well, a bit bored.

There was nothing around in Bendigo for the gay and lesbian community to celebrate, she said. So I got a group of women together and said, -˜How about we see if we can get some movies from the Melbourne Queer Film Festival up here?’ And they thought it sounded like a good idea.

And so the Bendigo Queer Film Festival was born. With the support of its Melbourne equivalent and funding from the Victorian government and Bendigo council, the inaugural event last year featured just three films but managed to attract people from across Victoria, NSW and South Australia. It was such a success Walters decided to hold the festival again.

This year’s event, being held over the first weekend of April, will feature six movies including the Charlie’s Angels spoof D.E.B.S. from the US, the British/Canadian co-production Touch Of Pink starring Kyle McLachlan, and a collection of Australian short films.

Among the thousand people expected to attend is the
festival’s patron, Tasmanian gay rights activist Rodney Croome, who will be guest of honour at a breakfast on Sunday 3 April.

The local community, Walters said, has been supportive of the event, which will once again be opened by Bendigo’s mayor.

One of the reasons we like having it in country Victoria is because it allows people who maybe aren’t out to see there are gays and lesbians out there leading normal lives, Walters said. I hope it helps them be less fearful, because there’s a lot of youth suicide in the country.

Bendigo Queer Film Festival is on 1-3 April. For more information call (03) 5441 3119 or go to www.bendigoqueerfilmfestival.info.

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