The 29th Mardi Gras Film Festival is once again set to roll out the best of queer cinema from around the world from February 17 to March 3.
With 119 films from 37 different countries lined up at the festival, 51 of which will make their Australian premiere, there’s something for everyone in the festival’s intriguing lineup.
Before the festival kicks off, let’s take a closer look at some of the films we’re most looking forward to seeing in this year’s lineup.
Written and directed by Lauren Hadaway, The newbie stars Isabelle Fuhrman (so remarkable in Orphan) as Alex, a young woman who joins her college rowing team and develops an obsession with being the best.
Reviews were excellent, and the film landed five Independent Spirit Award nominations, including Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Director and Best Feature. The film also won Best American Narrative Feature at the Tribeca Film Festival.
Jordan Searles of The Hollywood Reporter called The newbie“Dark, unnerving and thrilling”, and based solely on the trailer, The newbie tops our list of must-haves.
The Perfect David
In keeping with a thematic vein similar to The newbieis The Perfect David, from Uruguay. In director Felipe Gómez Aparicio’s feature debut, a teenager named David develops an obsession with developing the perfect body, a pursuit encouraged by his overbearing mother. His desire for physical perfection eventually leads David down a dark and dangerous path.
Denise Ho: becoming the song
A timely addition to the festival’s lineup, this documentary spotlights pro-democracy activist Denise Ho, who was recently arrested and later released on bail, following a raid by Hong Kong police on the offices of Stand news, a pro-democracy newspaper of which Ho was a former board member. Ho, who rose to fame as a Cantopop singer and actress in Hong Kong, was a powerful voice in Hong Kong’s democracy movement.
Critic Matt Fagerholm of RogerEbert.com, in his review of the film, said, “I walked into the film knowing nothing of the Cantopop star, and came out of it an instant fan rejuvenated by my connection to every soul across the world struggling currently to preserve human rights against the rising wave of totalitarianism.
This Canadian feature was chosen to open this year’s festival. The film, directed by Bretten Hannom, tells the story of two-spirited Mi’kmaw teenager Link (played by Phillip Lewitski), who embarks on a journey of self-discovery after discovering that his mother, whom he believed to be dead, is actually alive.
Another characteristic of Canada, Retirement features a lesbian couple, whose relationship has fallen on hard times, who are forced to fight for their lives when a group of psychotic homophobic killers attempt to murder them.
This Swiss feature film, directed by Gitta Gsell, focuses on the experiences of a young Turkish man, Beyto, whose family immigrated to Switzerland. Beyto, a swimmer, finds himself increasingly attracted to his coach. Beyto’s family, in an effort to combat gossip among their friends, sets out to marry Beyto to a woman. The film won Best Narrative Feature at the 2021 Boston LGBT Film Festival.
Chosen to close this year’s festival, B-Boy Blues tells what happens when two African American men from different backgrounds meet and fall in love. of the empire Jussie Smollett, made his directorial debut and co-wrote the screenplay with James Earl Hardy, based on Hardy’s 1990 novel of the same name.
This German film explores the relationship between two Berlin sex workers. The film, directed by Henrika Kull, in her second feature, was shot in a real brothel and features real sex workers and their clients. The film stars Katharina Behrens as Sascha and Adam Hoya (performance artist and real-life sex worker) as Maria.
This highly acclaimed film from South Africa (in English and Afrikaans), explores toxic masculinity, homophobia and racism as a young man enters compulsory military service only to be faced with the complexities of having to conform to the masculine ideals of military service while realizing at the same time that he has developed feelings for another soldier.
The Hollywood Reporter listing Moffie among its “10 underseen gems 2021”.
See you later
Trans filmmaker Mari Walker explores a former couple who reunite after not seeing each other for ten years. One has made the transition, while the other is now married and has children. The reunion becomes increasingly difficult as the two explore their pasts. The film stars Pooya Mohseni, who won Best Performance in an American Feature Film at LA Outfest.
Bird of Fire
This Estonian feature film set during the Cold War tells the story of two Soviet soldiers whose growing attraction to each other jeopardizes their military careers and their freedom. The film has been well received on the LGBTQ film festival circuit, having screened at the London LGBTQ+ Film Festival, Moscow International Film Festival, Frameline: San Francisco International LGBTQ+ Film Festival and Outfest Los Angeles. LGBTQ Film Festival.
boy meets boy
This German feature film directed by Daniel Sanchez Lopez, stars Matthew James Morrison and Alexandros Koutsoulis as two young men who meet in Berlin and spend the day together, wandering around the city and getting to know each other.
Although thematically similar to Andrew Haigh Weekend and Richard Linklater before sunset, Boy dating boy received favorable reviews, and Lopez received a nomination for Best First Feature from the Frameline San Francisco International Film Festival.
Directed by Catherine Corsini, The divide depicts the catastrophic relationship of two women (Marina Foïs and Valeria Bruni Tedeschi) who find themselves in the emergency room of a hospital during an evening of political unrest in Paris. The divide won the Queer Palm at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival.
Kapana explores the budding relationship between two men who unexpectedly meet at a bar. This 2020 feature film, directed by Phillippe Talavera, is the first gay-themed film from Namibia, where same-sex relationships are still criminalized.
The festival will feature screenings at Event Cinemas on George Street, as well as additional ‘one night only’ screenings at Hayden Orpheum in Cremorne and Event Cinemas in Parramatta and Hurstville. In addition, more than half of the festival program will also be available for on-demand streaming.
The festival will also visit the Blue Mountains from March 11-13 and Canberra from March 18-21.