Six films to see at the Mardi Gras Film Festival
February 14th 2017
Above: AWOL still
From a trilogy by Korea’s leading queer filmmaker to independent documentaries and James Franco-starring sexual thrillers, Mardi Gras Film Festival is back, and more diverse than ever.
If you’re after excellent queer cinema, there’s more than just Moonlight at this year’s Mardi Gras Film Festival. With an eye towards including all breadths of the LGBTIQ community, this year’s lineup of 60+ films marks more diversity of stories and talent than ever before. Whether you fancy an illuminating documentary on queer history or carefully woven intersex narrative, there’s much to see. Here are six picks to get you started.
Winning multiple awards at the 2015 Venice Film Festival, Arianna is a delicate film on intersex identity by Italian director Carlo Lavagna. Ondina Quadri plays Arianna, a nineteen year old who becomes transfixed by previously misplaced memories as she revisits her father’s old lake house. Quadri’s seemingly effortless portrayal is captivating and lively, expressing a flux of frustration, contentment and resentment all at once.
Event Cinemas George Street, Monday 27 February, 6.30pm. Watch trailer | Buy tickets
Uncertainty and restlessness drive recent high school graduate Joey (Lola Kirke) to an affair with Rayna, a married mother almost twice her age, played by Breeda Wool, who you might recognise from unREAL. With the compounding pressures of conservative Pennsylvania and a selfish lover, Joey disappears. Developed from her short film of the same name, Dev Shoval’s directorial debut captures the milieu of middle-America without romanticisation.
Event Cinemas George Street, Sunday 26 February, 7.45pm. Watch trailer | Buy tickets
In 2007, the murder of gay porn producer Bryan Kocis made international headlines for months afterwards. A dark story unfolded, revolving around Brent Corrigan: a young adult film star far from an ingénue. King Cobra, Justin Kelly’s second film, casts Christian Slater as Kocis against an equally-menacing James Franco as Joseph Kerekes, a would-be producer who fights to sign Corrigan into his own contract.
While it’d be easy to deride King Cobra as another queer-baiting Franco flick, it’s more of a lively sexual thriller that sits somewhere between Boogie Nights and Bret Easton Ellis’s favourite wet dream. Add Alicia Silverstone and Molly Ringwald in supporting roles, and you’ve got a film that needed an extra screening when the first sold out so fast.
Event Cinemas George Street, Tuesday 14 March, 6.30pm. Buy tickets
One Night and Two Days
In 2006, Korean director Leeson Hee-il released No Regrets, now widely considered to be Korea’s first “gay film”. As Korea’s queer cinema continues to flourish, so too has Hee-ill – evident throughout One Night and Two Days, a screening of three films that mark the director’s long-overdue Australian premiere.
Screening: Event Cinemas George Street, Tuesday 21 February, 8.30pm. Buy tickets
Filmed over four years, this documentary follows the Ovarian Psycos: women of colour who cycle through the streets of Los Angeles’ Eastside, motivated by the need to reclaim a sense of safety in their community. Following three members – founder Xela de la X, artist Andi Xoch and newcomer Evie – Ovarian Psycos is a portrait of a female-identifying community that isn’t just an escape from oppression, but an active form of resistance too.
FBi is presenting this screening, which means you can win tickets if you’re a supporter!
Screening: Event Cinemas George Street, Sunday 19 February 7.15pm. Buy tickets
Before last year’s Orlando Pulse Nightclub massacre, which claimed 49 lives, an arson attack at New Orlean’s UpStairs Lounge was America’s largest hate crime against the LGBTIQ community. Often-forgotten, the 1973 fire claimed 32 lives. The arsonist was never found.
Like Orlando, there was resistance by media and politicians to label the UpStairs Lounge fire a hate crime. Interviewing survivors and investigating the responses of the church and media to the event, this film is a chronicle of both how far we’ve come, and how far we have to go. As a tribute to the lives lost, Upstairs Inferno reminds us of both the crimes committed against LGBT activists and the strength of a community facing hatred.
Event Cinemas George Street, Saturday 25 February, 4.30pm. Watch trailer | Buy tickets
WHAT: FBi Presents Queer Screen’s 24th Mardi Gras Film Festival
WHEN: February 15 – March 2
WHERE: Event Cinemas George St & various cinemas
HOW MUCH: $19 full, $17 conc, $15 members via QueerScreen