Although there are certainly still issues with prejudice in the mainstream media, particularly with straightforward issues of underrepresentation and visibility, progress has definitely been made in recent years in terms of queer stories being told on the big screen.
That’s why, in 1993, a group of queer Sydney filmmakers, students, and supporters approached Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras to establish an independent organisation whose focus would be queer film and screen culture. This organisation was Queer Screen. Their central aim was to reclaim Sydney’s LGBTIQ film festival as owned and operated by the community.
Festival Director of Queer Screen, Paul Struthers discussed how “We feel that the most important thing is to foster the talents of queer filmmakers who are telling queer stories with the most authority, authenticity, and nuance. It is important to get these stories more and more into visible spaces in order to battle prejudice by helping people to understand the struggles that LGBTIQ people face in their day to day lives.”
“We are so happy that every year our festival gets more diverse, and we are lucky enough to showcase films that raise important and often overlooked issues. This year we have films like 1:54 which reveals some of the devastating effects of bullying on young queer people and really highlights the need for safe schools in Australia and across the world. The Revival: Women and the Word gives the often unheard voices of a group of queer women of colour an important platform. Similarly, Moonlight tells the story of a young black man, growing up in an underprivileged and drug-fuelled neighbourhood in Miami. Again, films like The Pearl bring transgender stories into the spotlight, but also adds some representation for older people to the wide range of this year’s program.”
The Mardi Gras Film Festival is definitely a time for the LGBTIQ community to come together, but it is also a highly respected festival in terms of the quality of content it includes, so for that reason it attracts a wide and varied audience.
Seeing queer stories and characters represented in the media helps the LGBTIQ community to feel accepted, involved, and considered in mainstream culture. “We feel that queer filmmakers are the ones portraying these stories with the most authenticity and giving genuine queer lives a place on the screen, rather than relying on slightly clichéd narratives that tend to focus on coming of age stories or are straightforwardly over-sexualized.”
“My advice to young Film Makers is to consume as much queer media as possible, and as much variety as possible. Make sure you are watching shorts and developing work so you know what is out there, and avoid watching essentially the same film over and over again in different forms!”
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Have a look at all of the events available as part of the Queer Screen Festival.