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Sydney's Mardi Gras Film Festival Is Back for 2023 with a Spectacular In-Cinema and At-Home Lineup

Fans of LGBTQIA+ cinema, rejoice: this annual film fest hits 30 years with 166 films at eight venues around Sydney, plus online sessions.
By Sarah Ward
January 11, 2023
By Sarah Ward
January 11, 2023

Celebrating all things LGBTQIA+ in Australia is easy this summer. In fact, it's historic. For the first time ever both Down Under and the southern hemisphere, WorldPride is heading our way, joining Sydney's already jam-packed lineup of queer events. That's the cultural landscape the returning Mardi Gras Film Festival slides into in 2023 — and it's marking the occasion with a massive lineup of movies to celebrate its own 30th-anniversary milestone.

Fans of queer cinema, rejoice: this annual Sydney film fest is screening 166 films at eight venues around the city, running from Wednesday, February 15–Thursday, March 2 at locations such as Event Cinemas on George Street and in Hurstville, Dendy Cinema Newtown, the Hayden Orpheum, Ritz Cinemas, Casula Powerhouse, the Westpac Open Air Cinema and the Alumni Green at the University of Technology.

Not in the Harbour City but still want to watch along? As it has done in past years, MGFF is also streaming part of its program online around the country — because catering to movie lovers Australia-wide is fast, and welcomely, becoming a pandemic-era film fest staple.

For in-person attendees, the festival kicks off with coming-of-age film Of an Age, which heads to Sydney after also opening 2022 Melbourne International Film Festival, and marks the latest from Australian You Won't Be Alone director Goran Stolevski. Joining it as a MGFF bookend is closing night's The Venus Effect, with the Danish movie about two young women in love enjoying its Aussie premiere. And, just as huge is All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, 2022's Venice Film Festival Golden Lion-winning documentary about queer artist Nan Goldin, her life and career, and her battle against the billionaire Sackler family.

With the full fest program including 100-plus sessions in cinema, outdoors and on-demand — as well as panel discussions, workshops, networking events and parties — other highlights include two world-premiere screenings, glimpses back to the past and free sessions. Documentary Trans Glamore and camp comedy The Winner Takes It All will make their bows at MGFF; Vegas in Space and an episode of Aussie soap Number 96 will hit the big screen; retro sessions of Pride and Raya and the Last Dragon also get a spin; and new queer comedy specials by Joel Creasy and Rhys Nicholson will nab a run, without attendees needing to pay a cent.

Or, there's a special Westpac Openair session of the Cate Blanchett-starring Tár, which looks set to score the homegrown talent another Oscar; doco The Giants, about Dr Bob Brown becoming Australia's first openly gay member of parliament; Cannes Un Certain Regard Jury Prize-winner Joyland, a Pakistani effort about a romance between a trans woman and a married man; and moving Moroccan drama The Blue Caftan. Plus, other standouts include The Longest Weekend, about three siblings in Sydney's Inner West; inner-city cowboy love story Lonesome; Uýra: The Rising Forest, focusing on trans-indigenous artist Uýra; In From the Side, about an affair between two members of a fictional South London gay rugby club; and My Emptiness and I, honing in on a young trans call-centre worker.

Plus, for cinephiles watching on from home, there are 21 features on offer, including Black as U R, a doco about the lack of attention paid to the black queer community; Icelandic spoof Cop SecretBlitzed!, about the eponymous London nightclub, with Boy George, Princess Julia and Spandau Ballet sharing their memories; Youtopia, which explores the inadvertent formation of a hipster cult; and In Her Words, an ode to 20th-century lesbian fiction.

Mardi Gras Film Festival 2023 runs from Wednesday, February 15–Thursday, March 2 at eight venues around Sydney — and online nationally. For more information, visit the festival's website.

Published on January 11, 2023 by Sarah Ward
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