Sunday, March 20, 2011

Melbourne Queer Film Festival (MQFF) 2011

This year I have decided to make time to see a few films as part of the MQFF. 
Broderskab (a.k.a ‘Brotherhood’) was a Danish film I saw on Friday night at the Queer Film Festival. It was the first session in this year’s program (the festivals 21st birthday!!). The festival director apologised upfront wondering if they should have started the festival with a more ‘upbeat’ film. After watching it, I can see what she meant. This film was dark and intense. In 2009 it won ‘Best Film’ at the Rome Film Festival. When the film was over I was left a little stunned and feeling like I needed some time to digest what has happened.  Neo-Nazis, racism, homophobia, love & consequences are words that spring to mind. An interesting film, that I am glad I saw and was still thinking about the next day.
Here is a review from the New York Times.

Saturday night, I saw 2 films back to back (people do the craziest things at film festivals…one person I spoke with was seeing 6 films in one day!!). The two I saw were ‘Sasha’ and ‘La Mission’. Interestingly both films had fathers who found it difficult to deal with their son’s homosexuality.

Sasha: This was a cute German film from 2010 about the son of a family from Bosnia/Montenegro who deals with issues around his sexuality and his mother’s expectations of his future. It had a nice balance of humour and seriousness. 

La Mission was a similar story (ie. son dealing with issues), but this was not a light film. It was a really interesting glimpse into a minority group and the laws that apply to this group. The use of violence (and the treat of violence), the image you portray (and how), sense of community, language used (a mix of boasting, threats and vagueness. e.g.  phrases such as ‘you know’, ‘and shit.’ being used instead of the specifics), highlighted the difference between someone from La Mission and someone such as myself. While these elements are universal, the way we live our lives is not. Life in the Mission District is tough, you need to be tougher. Violence and death are but a moment away. Respect is earned and can be quickly lost if you don't adhere to the groups' rules. The richness of the culture (of the migrants from The Mission district), their cultures long history, as well as the importance of family, all gave this drama depth and substance. A film that I felt was a little too long, not brilliant, but still of interest.
A side note on this film is that a dear friend that I saw it with, commented on how many, many years ago, he and his partner whilst holiday on San Francisco accidentally stumbled upon the Mission District. A concerned police officer noticed their lily-white, middle-class, gay, Aussie asses and advised them promptly on the quickest and safest way out of the district.

So, MQFF 2011.

All in all, this year’s MQFF has been interesting. I have bumped into familiar faces, had some nice conversations but, so far I have yet to see any heart warming films (heart warming for me, that is). This may change though as next week I am off to see my last film for the festival, one which I fear may be awful (it at least sounds terrible) - It’s about a fag-hag who distances herself from her gay friends so that she can finally meet a man. Sound terrible to you? But that’s the thing about these festivals, you go with friends, see things that you wouldn’t normally see and enjoy the moment, regardless of how bad the film is, it’s about the company and the experience… anyway.. this film might be just be my heart warmer!! If not, there is the festival bar afterwards and conversations to be had with familiar faces!  

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