Image for MQFF kicks off with a bold & controversial opening night!

MQFF kicks off with a bold &controversial opening night!

Last night the Melbourne Queer Film Festival kicked off for its 27th year in an evening of fun and celebration as Melbourne gears up for 12 days of queer stories featuring over 60 feature films and 80 short films from around the world.

“Our 27th festival is big, its bold and its brave filled with films that will not only entertain, but also provoked, surpised and delighted in a year that is filled with more unique stories than ever before.” MQFF Executive Director Dillan GoLightly told SameSame.

“We have extending our reach across the city with ACMI being our home base. But you’ll also find us at Kino Cinema, Cinema Nova and we are sending a queer satellite to Testing Grounds for a pop up instillation.”

The theme of this years MQFF is ‘When the agenda is to divide, we need stories that unite’; a powerful statement and very telling of the state of affairs not only here at home but around the world.

In a bold move the opening night film was the Australian premier of I Am Michael, based on the controversial true-life story of Michael Glatze, a celebrated queer theorist and gay activist who became an anti-gay Christian pastor.

“I think the director Justin Kelly asked questions, rather than providing simple answers,” said MQFF Program Manager Spiro Economopoulos, “and I think it shows great empathy and compassion.”

James Franco starred as Glatze in the film, a man who went from being a beacon of the queer community to a man who renounces his gay lifestyle and turn away from his partner and friends. The film certainly had people talking at the after party.

“I am fascinated by stories of interesting people, so I was interested in I Am Michael, but I heard some polarising views from people after the screening.” Mel Campbell told SameSame, “What I liked about it was that I felt it was even handed. Was Glatze completely mad? Was he actually on a spiritual quest? Or was he just scarred of dying? It’s based on a New York Times article that’s written by his ex-friend so that’s interesting as well. I found the final moment of the film the most intruiging.”

“I tend to go for the fiction rather than the non-fiction, the documentary films.” Campbell said, “There’s so much in this year’s festival program I just don’t even know what to choose, its packed and a really strong collection.”

“I like to see films that are outside the box which you won’t see in mainstream cinema.” Dominic Moad told us. Dominic is from Sydney and came to Melbourne to enjoy all the films on offer at the opening weekend of MQFF. “This year I am on a mission to experience as much queer cinema as I can.”

“I like watching foreign films because it is interesting to see where queer culture is in different countries. I think you see a lot more post coming out stories from American films because they’ve told a lot of those stories and are trying to deal with more elevated issues.
We would never have been able to have a well-rounded debate with different views about I Am Michael without queer stories and films having been able to come out of the closet and have that be an established storytelling device.”

“A film such as this could not have screened at a queer film festival years ago because now we have sympathy for the main character but before we would have just called him a horrible person who is making people’s lives worse. Then there are countries where queer stories haven’t had the same advancement and the coming out tale is still really relevant, so it is interesting to see that and open your awareness to other cultures.”

“When we set out to make I Am Michael, I had to go to Glatze’s fundamentalist bible school to convince him to let a bunch of gay people tell his story.” Writer/Director Justin Kelly said, “I was honest with him that rather than doing a meatier version where he was vilified and judged, we could try instead to understand what happened in a way that doesn’t necessarily support him, but raises questions and talks about issues about the queer identity and the power of release and the desire to belong. I hope we pulled that off.”

Kelly has another film screening in the festival, King Cobra, the story of Sean Lockhart and an all out porn turf war that resulted in a shocking murder in this stranger-than-fiction true story and will be discussing both films in a panel this Sunday at ACMI as part of the festival.

The Melbourne Queer Film Festival has begun, and not only provides a platform for the stories of the LGBTIQ community from right here at home and around the world, but reminds us all to be loud, to be proud and to not be afraid or ashamed to be who you are.

Click here to see more of what’s on offer and to book tickets for films during the festival.

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