Take your pick from 135 features, shorts and documentaries focused on LGBTIQ stories.

Every July, the Melbourne International Film Festival unleashes a wealth of cinematic wonders upon the city's cinephiles. Every March, however, the Melbourne Queer Film Festival gets there earlier. Since kicking off in 1991, the showcase of LGBTIQ stories on screen has been shining a spotlight on the best, most interesting, and all-round latest and greatest queer movies, with its 27th event promising all of this and more once again.

Taking place at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Kino Cinemas and Cinema Nova from March 16 to 27, MQFF has plenty of films helping it fulfil its mission this time around — 135, in fact. Stats-wise, viewers can expect 47 features, 15 documentaries and 73 shorts from 30 countries, including six Australian premieres, 35 Melbourne premieres and ten special event screenings and forums. It's going to be a busy 12 days — and that's without even delving into the specifics of the lineup.

First, the Franco in the room — as in James, of course. He keeps proving a favourite of Aussie fest programmers, and pops up in not one but two titles in this year's MQFF schedule, starting with opening night's I Am Michael. There, starring opposite Zachary Quinto, he plays a real-life queer theorist and gay activist, who then became an anti-gay Christian pastor. It's quite a different role for his second appearance in the program: as a porn producer in King Cobra, which makes its way to Melbourne after screening at Sydney's Mardi Gras Film Festival.

Don't worry, MQFF boasts more than just the seemingly busiest actor in the world, including local indie fantasy Pulse's tale of sci-fi-laced transformation for those after a homegrown fix. Also on the intriguing stories front, Cannes Film Festival Queer Palme recipient The Lives of Thérèse explores the work and impact of French activist Thérèse Clerc, while fellow documentary Real Boy charts a trans musician's quest for acceptance. Some non-Franco star power arrives in the form 2016 Sundance duo Other People and The Intervention, the former starring Molly Shannon at her best, and the latter marking the directorial debut of actress Clea DuVall. Elsewhere, Stranger Things' Charlie Heaton features in '90s-set teen mystery As You Are, 1:54 delves into bullying with Mommy's Antoine-Olivier Pilon, Brazilian sci-fi The Cult ponders a bizarre future, and Fursonas examines the folks who like to role-play in furry costumes.

Basically, film fans can expect to be spoiled for choice — including at MQFF's many special events, which spans the return of festival favourite Movie Matchmaking and a discussion on the work of John Waters. Plus, recognising that even the biggest movie buffs can only see so many movies in a short period of time, the program also features a heap of great queer-centric films that audiences might've missed at MIFF last year, such as the Riley Keough-starring Lovesong, vogueing doco Kiki, true crime biopic I, Olga Hepnarova and applauded French effort Being 17.

Published on February 17, 2017 by Sarah Ward

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