The 2017 Mardi Gras Film Festival is in full swing in Sydney, and on this Fat Tuesday, here are a few films that caught our attention and struck our fancy. These and others are part of Queer Screen, the LGBTQ component of MGFF, whose program is comprised of over 60 films this year. They’ll be screening Academy Award winning film Moonlight (which made history this year as the first ever LGBT best picture winner!) along with other previously acclaimed LGBT films that you have probably heard of, like Grandma starring Lily Tomlin, and Carol. But here are a few notable flicks currently being screened that you may not know about it, all featuring women leads and lesbian storylines. Because the future is female!
Girl on Girl
AE Synopsis: In her documentary film Girl on Girl, Jodi Savitz reveals the feminine experience, following the lives of six lesbian-identified women who embrace their femininity while struggling to be visible in a society that has all but rendered them invisible.
We covered this documentary in a previous AE article, and you can watch the full trailer below, and find Girl on Girl on Facebook to interact with women within the lesbian community who relate to and support the film. Starring Lauren Bedford Russell.
Below Her Mouth
AE Synopsis: A powerfully sexy lesbian drama about a passionate, unexpected affair between two women that changes their lives forever. Starring Swedish model Erika Linder and Canadian actress Natalie Krill (Wynonna Earp).
A Million Happy Nows
MGFF Synopsis: Lainey Allen (Crystal Chappell) is a soap opera star with an award-winning, 20-year career. She suddenly retires, citing exhaustion and her frustration at being overlooked for her younger co-stars as the reason. But, it seems like there is more to the story. Lainey moves to the Californian coast with her long-term partner Eva (Jessica Leccia). But their idyllic new life is interrupted by Lainey’s memory lapses and mood swings, which point to something serious. Their fears are confirmed with a diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s. We witness them grapple with the changing dynamics of their relationship as they learn to live for a million happy nows, in the face of an unexpected future.
Filled with humour and romance, the film is powered by the undeniable chemistry between its two leads. They starred together on the US soap opera Guiding Light and became known as “Otalia” by legions of lesbian fans. They were then reunited for the hit lesbian web series Venice and now again in A Million Happy Nows. This is a must-see for fans of the pairing, but an important tale for everyone about the realities of loving someone through thick and thin.
MGFF Synopsis: Suicide Kale is your invitation to be a fly on the wall at one very funny meet-up. Jasmine (Brittani Nichols, Transparent) and Penny (Lindsay Hicks), are in the heady first days of their relationship when they’re invited to lunch with long-term couple Billie (Jasika Nikole, Fringe) and Jordan (Brianna Baker).
In the vast tradition of cinematic get-togethers, things don’t quite go smoothly in this dark comedy. When they discover a mysterious suicide note, Jasmine and Penny endeavour to find out who wrote it. Are there cracks showing in Billie and Jordan’s relationship? And now the hosts have to deal with some lunch guests who are acting decidedly strange. With a relatively simple premise, the film rests on the banter between its winning ensemble, who more than deliver, making sure this is one very entertaining meal, with plenty of hilarity being served up.
Our Love Story (Korea)
MGFF synopsis: Thirty-something fine art student Yoon-ju has never dated men, but it’s not until the worldly Ji-soo catches her eye that she works out why. As the two begin a relationship, the newness and excitement of first love consumes Yoon-ju, who should be preparing for her graduate exhibition. The story unfolds with little drama; but rather, with mesmerizing familiarity and universality. This wonderful film is a quiet achiever of a debut feature from Korean writer, director, and editor Hyunju Lee, maker of acclaimed lesbian-themed short Ordinary Family.
Bad Girl (Australia)
MGFF synopsis: Amy thinks she’s the picture of teen rebellion, forced to move to rural Australia by her adoptive parents after a stint in juvenile detention. When the beautiful, mysterious Chloe appears, Amy begrudgingly befriends her and they push and break the boundaries of one another’s worlds. But something isn’t right about Chloe, and as this begins to affect Amy and dire consequences pile up around them, Amy is forced to protect herself and her family against this unstable new threat. A dark take on modernity, family and strength.
Rara (Chile and Argentina)
MGFF synopsis: An insightful, genuine, and humorous look into a modern LGBTIQ family, Rara explores the domestic life of two girls, Sara and Catalina, their mother Paula and her partner, Lia. As Sara enters her teenage years, she becomes aware of differences previously unnoticed between her family dynamics and those of her classmates. This revelation unexpectedly instigates a custody battle, proving the difference between their idyllic home and the world outside. With exceptional performances, this is a coming-of-age story and deft social commentary, plays out with calm ease.
A Winter’s Color
MGFF Synopsis: Lucía’s story is an accurate portrayal of how it feels to be young and queer in a straight world. In the midst of treatment for her panic attacks, she is faced with the new challenge of addressing her feelings for her new friend Olivia. On top of that, how will her family and boy-obsessed, straight girlfriends take the news? With two artistic lead characters (an aspiring filmmaker and a painter) their conversations and adventures are fresh, young, and elegant.
This is a quiet and meditative film that captures the age and essence of it’s stunning leads. Unafraid to show every moment of awkwardness involved in a first love affair, A Winter’s Color is also a film preoccupied with beauty. A coming out story that honestly explores the difficult process of being honest with oneself – before you tell anybody else. Struggle is at the heart of Lucía’s emotional journey, which culminates in her big moment of coming out, and finally finding a way to happiness.
The Priestess Walks Alone (Taiwan)
MGFF synopsis: Priestess is a painfully honest story exploring a lesbian mother’s relationship with her daughter and the past. Elegantly paced, it confronts the family difficulties queer people face, then and now. (This one is screening with a gay film from Myanmar!)
MGFF Synopsis: In 1994 the first openly gay member of the California State Assembly was elected, by the turn of the century three more out and proud lesbians were elected to join her. Political Animals tells the remarkable story of these four pioneering women and the incredible lengths they went to, to pass a wide range of anti-discrimination laws that benefited the LGBTIQ community and paved the way for other states to follow their lead.These four fierce women – Sheila Kuehl, Carole Migden, Jackie Goldberg, and Christine Kehoe credit their background in women’s and feminist movements for giving them the strategic and organisational skills required to make change happen in the hostile environment of the assembly floor.
This film is co-directed by acclaimed filmmaker Jonah Markowitz, who usually makes narrative features including gay surfer classic, Shelter. Here, Markowitz felt compelled to make the documentary to highlight the often overlooked achievements of women in the telling of our LGBTIQ history.
Combining insightful present day interviews with a wealth of news clips, photographs, and archival footage of their powerful, witty, heartfelt and moving rebuttals to the vitriol spouted by their colleagues in the assembly chamber, you will be engrossed by the achievements of these formidable women.
For the complete full line-up of LGBTQ films, visit the MGFF website.