Melbourne Queer Film Festival opening night

I admit that I’ve lived in Melbourne most of my life and never crossed the foyer of the gorgeous Astor Theatre, what a charming, grandiose old girl she is. Opened in the 1930’s with a current seating capacity of around 1100, she easily holds the expectant crowd of this, the opening night of the Melbourne Queer Film Festival.
Melbourne Queer Film Festival opening night
I admit that I’ve lived in Melbourne most of my life and never crossed the foyer of the gorgeous Astor Theatre, what a charming, grandiose old girl she is. Opened in the 1930’s with a current seating capacity of around 1100, she easily holds the expectant crowd of this, the opening night of the Melbourne Queer Film Festival. An impressive event that’s slick and friendly with bling, banter and bubbly all in the arms of an old school theatre. This is the 19th year of the event of which Lisa Daniels has been festival director for many of them. Lisa carries her role off beautifully, speaking to the crowd as old friends and they responded accordingly. There is warmth, affection, laughter and friendliness around this festival as it is one of the longest running, most successful worldwide, and it encourages a mental note to return next year. After the formality of opening night speeches, we rolled into the feature film Were the World Mine. Directed by Tom Gustafson and co-written and produced by Cory James Krueckeberg, Were the World Mine has won numerous awards including the Audience Award at the Florida Film Festival, the Heineken Red Star Grand Jury Award at Outfest L.A. and Best Music at the Nashville Film Festival. If you’re a fan of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream then you’re sure to be entertained by the whimsical journey that is Were the World Mine. Based on the award-winning short musical film, Fairies, for me this film was Moulin Rouge meets a coming of age Fame for boys. Armed with a magical love-potion and empowered by dazzling musical fantasies, a struggling teen Timothy (hot newcomer Tanner Cohen) turns his narrow-minded town gay and makes them walk a heartbreaking mile in his musical shoes. This begins with the rugby jock of his dreams Jonathon (Nathaniel David Becker). I thoroughly enjoyed Ms Tebbit (Wendy Robie) the film’s spiritual guardian, arty and all knowing as she oversees the fruition of the school musical – after the town goes erotically bonkers. The majority of folk I spoke to enjoyed the film finding it an appropriate MQFF opening night selection – “a- please –all” choice, which is difficult at the best of times. Personally I’m not a big fan of musical film and found the adaptation from short to feature film a little lengthy and disjointed. But it’s a light-hearted, happy ever after type journey – and who can go past that in our current climate. The film is all about realising what kind of love you want around you, about tolerance, acceptance and knowing you can’t stop someone from loving. Frankly I wished it had been out years ago when I told my father I loved Martina Navratilova’s tennis! The film stars Tanner Cohen (In Bloom), Nathaniel David Becker, Judy McLane (Broadway's Mamma Mia), Wendy Robie (Twin Peaks), Christian Stolte (Prison Break), and Zelda Williams (House of D), daughter of Robin Williams. The Melbourne Queer Film Festival runs from 18-28 March 2009. Films will be screening at ACMI Cinemas, The Astor Theatre and Loop. The Festival Club for 2009 can be found in the Function Space of ACMI (ground floor, Flinders Street side – if you’re at the Box Office, take the escalators downstairs). Entry is free, so come on down!

Leesa Nicholls

Friday 20 March, 2009

About the author

Leesa Nicholls is a sculptor and Arts Hub reviewer.