Five Must-See Films at the 2017 Melbourne Queer Film Festival
Start with an Australian-made queer body-swapping sci-fi fantasy parable.
Queer film festival season is well and truly underway in Australia, but, lucky for Melburnians, the best has arguably been saved until last. Now in its 27th year, the Melbourne Queer Film Festival is serving up 135 reasons to head to the cinema from March 16 to 27, with 47 features, 15 documentaries and 73 shorts from 30 countries on the 12-day lineup. The usual festival catch-all — that is, that there's something for everyone — definitely applies. The obligatory appearance of James Franco (not once but twice) does too. So block out the bulk of the month and prepare to spend plenty of time at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Kino Cinemas and Cinema Nova, ideally watching our must-see picks of the program.
An Australian-made queer body-swapping sci-fi fantasy parable about sexuality, youth and disability? We're calling it: Pulse is officially the most interesting-sounding film in the MQFF lineup. It also has a premise worthy of smashing all of the aforementioned words together, with a disabled teenage boy undergoing a strange procedure that places him in the body of an able-bodied woman. It's all in the name of love — what else? — which is how you might feel about the end result. Screening in the high-profile festival centrepiece slot, Pulse also marks the debut of writer/actor Daniel Monks and director Stevie Cruz-Martin, which means it promises on-screen intrigue and off-screen talent galore.
There's plenty that can be said about I, Olga Hepnarova. It tells a chilling true tale in an immersive, engaging and stylistically interesting way, for starters. Oh, yes it does. Tackling the eponymous 22-year-old's murder spree and eventual execution, it's also far from upbeat viewing — but, even though the Czech effort delves into a stunning real-life crime, it's also perceptive and never sensationalist. Perhaps the strongest thing we can tell you is that, as lead actress Michalina Olszanska draws you into the mind of a loner turned killer in a mesmerising fashion, you won't forget your viewing experience in a hurry.
If The Intervention sounds familiar, that's okay. We've been keen for this one for a while. After screening at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, Clea DuVall's directorial debut makes its way to Melbourne with a heap of familiar faces helping her riff on The Big Chill. With DuVall herself, Cobie Smulders, Alia Shawkat, Natasha Lyonne, Melanie Lynskey, Jason Ritter and Ben Schwartz along for the ride, that means a reunion is in the spotlight — and, as the title suggests, the kind of caring confrontation that doesn't always go down too well. If you need any more reasons to watch, and you shouldn't, Sara Quinn from Tegan and Sara provides the score.
With Taekwondo, two Argentinian talents well-versed in telling screen tales of lust and longing come together. Expect the results to pack a punch. In a film directed by Marco Berger and Martín Farina, sparks fly when the shy Germán accepts an invitation from his taekwondo teammate Fernando to join him on a summer getaway. Fernando's friends make Germán feel like part of the gang, but romance lingers beneath the male bonding — as do plenty of long, yearning looks, as well as a sensitive and intimate drama.
You've seen one wedding-centric flick, you've seen them all, right? That's a line of thinking that's easy to slip into, but Irish bright light A Date for Mad Mary is here to prove otherwise. The titular Mad' Mary McArdle gets out of prison, heads home and gets bundled into being the maid-of-honour at her best friend's wedding, leaving her in need of a companion. A combination of heart and humour makes the finished product stand out, as does a star-making turn by Seána Kerslake.