Melbourne Queer Film Festival 2019

MQFF is in its twenty-ninth year, expanding upon the world’s oldest and largest exhibition of queer films. The festival’s growth is includes the diversification of exhibition spaces, including new partnerships with Village Cinema’s Jam Factory as well as ongoing collaborations with Cinema Nova and ACMI. Through this expansion, the festival coordinators aim to bring these films into mainstream spaces, with the representations of diverse identities and experiences presented with greater accessibility.

Running between March 14-25, the programme is positively mouth-watering in its selection of stories which frame queer experiences. Here are some of the more magnetic selections – but make sure you take a gander at the programme. Most of the selected films are by queer-identifying filmmakers and all tell stories sprung from the LGBTQIA+ community – bringing with it an indispensable treat of watching authentic experiences, not watered down for mainstream audiences. With over 120 feature films as well as 15 shorts sessions, MQFF is sure to be twelve celebratory days of unadulterated queer cinema.

Rafiki (Wanuri Kah, Kenya, 2018)
Friday, 15 March at 7.00pm – Village Jam Factory
Thursday, 21 March at 8.30pm – Cinema Nova


Rafiki is a dynamic portrayal of first love. Set on the streets of Nairobi, the Kenyan director Wanuri Kah. Kah was initially unable to release her film in her home country due to the nation’s extremely conservative political actions which criminalise LGBTQI+ peoples. The film was also featured at last year’s Melbourne International Film Festival and was a clear highlight amongst its queer film selection. Bathed in vibrant colours, the film organically blends an indelibly loveable, cute tone with the seriousness of Kenya’s political climate without feeling burdened. The performances by leads Samantha Magatsia and Sheila Munyvia are effervescent and irresistible – giving audiences the chance to seriously crush on them in a dreamy visual landscape.


Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood (Matt Tyrnauer, USA, 2018)
Saturday, 16 March at 5.00pm – ACMI
Saturday, 23 March at 3.00pm – Cinema Nova


This documentary feature is said to deepen the intrigue of definitively iconic queer doco The Celluloid Closet. The film aligns itself with ex-Hollywood socialite Scotty Bowers as his stories illuminate sexual exploits, seemingly uninhibited by hetero standards in Hollywood’s golden age. Scotty recounts stories about his ‘friends’ which included Cary Grant, Rock Hudson, Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy – relationships formed during Hollywood’s most censored and repressed years. Comprised of interviews of Scotty and his family as well as archival footage, this doco looks like a queer Hollywood nerd’s fantasy – which is not as niche a demographic as one would think.


Knife+Heart (Yann Gonzales, France, 2018)
Saturday, 16 March at 9.30pm – ACMI
Friday, 22 March at 10.30pm – ACMI


Set in 1979 Paris, Knife+Heart centres itself on Anne, a producer of gay porn. The film was nominated last year for the Queer Palm at Cannes International Film Festeval and has been lauded for its visual language, soundscape (with soundtrack by M83) and performances. Described as unabashedly queer (a description which most films should have), the film is said to be as a comedy with brutalist undertones, exploring intersections of violence and passion, all captured through its female protagonist’s (quite literal) lens. It should be mentioned that the film features Vanessa Paradis who not only has the best teeth of any actor alive, but is an incredibly commanding and sensual screen presence.


Sorry Angel (Christophe Honouré, France, 2018)
Saturday, 23 March 5.00pm – Cinema Nova


Sorry Angel can be pitched as a sort of companion piece to 2017’s BPM which was featured at last year’s MQFF. Set in 1990s France, the film is a love story which resides in the shadow of the HIV/AIDs crisis. Despite this, Sorry Angel shines with its portrayals of relationships within the queer community, be they romantic or non-romantic. The film allows for many varied perspectives surrounding the formation of its central relationship between 20-something Arthur and 30-something Jacques who is evasive of the reality of his status. Additionally, this film is incredibly directive in terms of its visual communication, with each shot entirely bathed in blue – an absolute pleasure to look at. Sorry Angel is undoubtedly important within the historical makeup of the queer experience and will certainly have audience members grasping each other’s hands at its conclusion.


Jeremiah Terminator LeRoy (Justin Kelly, Canada, USA, UK, 2018)
Sunday, 24 March at 7.30pm – ACMI


Was this film manifested via Queer Twitter and Film Twitter collectively? Because it includes a litany of widely obsessed-over tropes including androgyny, Kristen Stewart, wigs, Laura Dern, literary fraud, Hollywood, Diane Kreuger, provocateurs…. need I go on?

Jeremiah Terminator LeRoy will feature at MQFF’s closing night, following the true account of a queer woman who for six years masqueraded as celebrated male author JT LeRoy. The film is said to be an intriguing exploration of gender, sexuality and celebrity, and is also said to feature Laura Dern in a variety of wigs. Our collective internet prayers have finally been answered.

Shorts sessions

Tuesday, 19 March at 8.00pm – ACMI


This selection of shorts aims to demonstrate the strength of transgender trailblazers. With a mix of local and international short films (both narrative and documentary), the selection reveals a breadth of themes, from identity to relationships to desire. Each are linked with the representation of unearthing the trans legacies which make way for even more stories. Highlights include Candy’s Crush, a New Zealand doco about a woman’s journey to becoming one of the world’s first trans pro-wrestlers; We Forgot to Break Up, a depiction of a reunion prior to a man’s transition; and Australian documentary Sistergirl, exploring Tiwi Island and its indigenous community which houses the world’s largest population of transgender women.

Clip from We Forgot to Break Up:

Queer First Nations Shorts
Monday, 18 March at 6.00pm

With a first for the MQFF programme, this shorts package is a showcase celebrating the queer experiences of Aboriginal brothers and sisters. Comprising of three shorts, both narrative and documentary, each explores the intersection of two very distinct identities – each directed by indigenous filmmakers. The highlight of the evening is Black Divaz, a documentary which dives into the glitz and glamour of drag at the inaugural First Nations Pageant, as well as the reality of queer identity within Aboriginal communities. The short also features the legendary queen Nova Gina, as well as the many indigenous queens who help to make way for queer indigenous people living in rural areas of Australia. This session is a clear highlight of the festival and is sure to be a sell-out – so hurry up and support our local artists and filmmakers.

Trailer for Black Divaz:

View the full MQFF programme and book your tickets here



Published by Ella Pace

Ella is a film critic currently working and studying in Melbourne, Australia.

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