The Melbourne Queer Film Festival kicks off its 21st year on March 17, with two acclaimed yet markedly different films screening on the opening and closing nights.

Opening the festival is Kaboom, the colourful new film from controversial queer director Gregg Araki.
Kaboom is a queer college film with unexpected science fiction overtones. Smith (Thomas Dekker) is a sexed-up college kid who lusts after his roommate Thor (Chris Zykla). Meanwhile, his lesbian best friend Stella (Haley Bennett) is dealing with her own rampant sex drive.

Throw hallucinatory dreams and world-altering conspiracies into the mix and it makes for a bizarre, at times muddled, mix of genres, but a hot young cast and a cracking pace make up for most shortcomings.

Closing night film Spork is easier to love.

The lo-fi charmer tells the story of the title character, Spork (wonderfully played by Savannah Stehlin, pictured), a teenager who lives in a trailer with her brother in Hicktown, USA. She’s mercilessly picked on at school, not just because of her frizzy mane of hair and dorky glasses, but because word has spread that she’s intersex.

This true underdog story should end the festival on a high, as Spork unites with her neighbour, Tootsie Roll (Sydney Park, channelling Willow Smith), to defeat her arch-nemesis Betsy Byotch.

There are many highlights to be found in the 10 days between the opening and closing nights.

The Sex Drives & Videotape short film session is home to Travis Mathews’ I Want Your Love.

The 14-minute short was produced in collaboration with porn site Naked Sword, but it’s different from the porn many of us are used to seeing — relaxing at home over drinks, two best friends nervously negotiate their way towards having sex for the first time. It’s funny, tender and sexy.

Female viewers should get a kick out of the sexy Italian romance Room in Rome. After a chance meeting in a hotel bar, lesbian Alba somehow persuades straight Natasha to return with her to her hotel room where an intense game of seduction begins — largely naked. A lesbian fairytale? Who cares when it’s this hot.

Music lovers should also get along to screenings of Le Tigre: On Tour, a portrait of the seminal feminist electro-punk band, and the self-explanatory Prima Donna: The Story of Rufus Wainwright’s Debut Opera.

And this year’s particularly strong showing for trans and intersex people includes a 25-minute doco on Melbourne transgender icon, activist and regular Star Observer columnist Sally Goldner.

info: MQFF, March 17-27.

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