It’s not often a rural town plays host to the best of queer film, but the Bendigo Queer Film Festival has been serving up its slice of pink cinema to rural audiences for the last six years.
A regional off-shoot of Melbourne Queer Film Festival, the Bendigo film weekend is running again this April and will provide locals with a wide program of films usually only selectively screened in major cities.
Organisers estimate about 800 people flock to the rural centre over the festival weekend.
BQFF director Julian Regan said the event is ready to go and expects numbers to be similar to previous years.
Featuring highlights from the Melbourne festival, the program includes both international and local short films and three main features aimed to appeal to both male and female audiences.
One thing organisers have been unable to finalise this year, however, is a patron to officially open the weekend.
Regan said although the festival sought a number of potential candidates, those approached couldn’t commit to times and dates.
In past years the festival has attracted a number of well-known patrons including Judy Small, Rodney Croome, Sue-Ann Post, Anton Enus and Kristy Edmunds.
An arts exhibition, Queer Country, will run in conjunction with the festival, featuring work by regional artists. Local social group Friends Alike of Bendigo will join in festivities by hosting an after-party.
Regan said Bendigo residents and businesses have been supportive of the festival and the town fosters a strong arts community.
-œThere is quite a strong film culture here. We have the regular mainstream cinema, as well as a community cinema which shows some mainstream as well as arthouse films -” so there is a connection here for people looking for alternative-type films.
Regan said the festival is especially important to run in an area where access to queer art, film and literature is limited.
-œI think it’s exceptionally important, given the isolation rural people feel, particularly the older ones coming out.
-œThere’s still a high proportion of self-harm and suicide in rural areas, especially among those with sexuality issues.
-œWe feel it’s very important to provide a sense of community -” that there are other people out there.
info: Bendigo Queer Film Festival runs April 3 -“ 5. Visit bendigoqueerfilmfestival.com.au for details and the program.

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