It’s also one of the oldest queer film festivals in the world. The Festival first screened in 1991 and has continued every year since.
Originally called the Melbourne International Lesbian & Gay Film & Video Festival, it became the Melbourne Queer Film & Video Festival in 1993 (aah videos, remember those kids?). In 2003 it changed to the Melbourne Queer Film Festival. Over the past 24 years it is estimated that over 250,000 people have attended the Festival and other MQFF events.
The Melbourne Queer Film Festival has been embraced and become an important part of Melbourne’s already busy cultural calendar. “The Melbourne Queer Film Festival is a wonderful part of Melbourne’s art portfolio, and I’m delighted to be here to celebrate 25 remarkable years,” Melbourne Mayor, Robert Doyle said at this year’s festival guide launch.
The 2015 Melbourne Queer Film festival is jam packed with a staggering 180+ film and events. I was fortunate enough to be able to preview just some of the amazing films being screened this year (thanks MQFF!). But don’t worry, there are absolutely no spoiler alerts in these short reviews (I hate when people do that). I’ll just give you an idea of what the film is about, and my take on it.
Eat With Me
Eat With Me offers a snapshot into the life of Elliot, a chef at a Chinese restaurant that’s not doing too well. When Elliot’s mother leaves his father and moves in with him, they’re forced to deal with a lot of the unspoken, and unresolved issues in their lives. These issues stem from the fact that Elliot is gay, and as well intentioned as she may try to be, that’s still an issue for Elliot’s mother. A lot of Elliot’s commitment issues stem from this lack of acceptance.
The restaurant, and indeed food in general, are used in the film as a way of bringing Elliot and his mother together. It becomes a form of communication for them, and a way of reaching out to each other. It also serves to reflect the bigger things that are going on for both of them. The film is beautifully shot and has a great supporting cast.
This isn’t a fast paced film which is one of the reasons I liked it. The pace gives the characters room to develop, and the audience time to reflect. I could personally relate to a lot of the mother-son stuff, especially the way it depicts an ethnic family in an Anglo country. Elliot and his mother are Chinese-American. I have Polish mother, so the little moments between them, the silences, the small disapproving-but-not-disapproving looks were captured really well and were very relatable.
Winner Best Comedy Feature Out on Film Atlanta 2014
Best Feature Film Florence Queer Film Festival 2014
The 10 Year Plan
I’m a total sucker for a rom-com at the best of times, so when you throw in a classic rom-com premise (if we’re still single in 10 years, we marry each other), a genuinely funny script and two adorable lead characters, it makes for a great movie.
Brody and Myles make the 10 year pact to marry each other at 35 if they’re both still single by then. The film then centres on showing how their friendship unfolds a month out from the impending due date. This is where the film really shines. Miles is adorable in an uber-romantic, heads in the clouds kind of way. And while Brody is the confirmed bachelor, he’s so sweet and completely un-seedy, that you can’t help falling for him too.
That’s why the film works – you’re rooting for both of them to make it. The depiction of their friendship is really sweet and tender, and the film raises the issue of the importance of friendship as a basis for romantic relationships really well.
The film has all the ups and downs you’d expect, but is delivered so well, it’s well worth the ride!
Winner Best Comedy FilmOut San Diego 2014
Best Comedy Feature Out on Film Atlanta 2014
Based on the acclaimed play, Drown is a hard-hitting drama set against the iconic backdrop of Sydney’s Beaches. It deals with homophobia, bullying, jealousy and violence in the ultra-competitive and traditionally macho world of surf life saving.
Len’s status as lifesaving champion is undermined by the arrival of the younger, faster, fitter Phil. Phil happens to be gay, which brings up a lot of confusing feelings for Len. The portrayal of Len is done in a way that tries to bring out some understanding of where his thoughts and behaviours come from. You can see that he’s very much a product of his family and the upbringing he received.
That said, the movie is very full on in terms of violence and aggression. At times, it’s really hard to watch – so be prepared. It’s a movie that packs a punch and stays with you for days afterwards.
The Melbourne Queer Film Festival runs from 19-30 March.
To see the full line up of events,
please visit the Melbourne Queer Film Festival website.