5 films to see at Sydney’s Queer Screen Film Fest


The Queer Screen Film Fest celebrates the diversity of sexualities and gender identities through queer storytelling on screen. Boasting a fabulous array of LGBTIQ stories, sourced from 12 countries, the festival arrives in Sydney next month and runs from September 15 to October 6.

The Fest might be modest in the scheme of things (with a much smaller program than the Melbourne or Sydney film festival) but it features some substantial titles. Among them are Cannes Film Festival favourite Portrait of a Lady on Fire, and Pedro Almodóvar’s new film Pain and Glory (starring Antonio Banderas and Penélope Cruz).

We’ve looked through the program and picked five titles to check out, with descriptions taken from the official program.

1) Portrait of a Lady on Fire

Portrait of a Lady on Fire is a lush and romantic masterpiece from acclaimed French director Céline Sciamma (Water Lilies MGFF09, Tomboy, Girlhood) that will engross you from the opening moments to the final breathtaking sequence, that will leave you floored. Portrait of a Lady on Fire is a lush and romantic masterpiece from acclaimed French director Céline Sciamma (Water Lilies MGFF09, Tomboy, Girlhood) that will engross you from the opening moments to the final breathtaking sequence, that will leave you floored.

2) End of the Century

End of the Century is a sensual film which explores the role of fate and chance in our sexual encounters. Ocho, an Argentinian poet from New York, and Javi, a Spanish filmmaker from Berlin, meet by chance while in Barcelona. What’s initially intended to be a brief hook-up, they realise that they had previously met twenty years earlier. This serendipitous relationship is told in a non-linear fashion in three parts.

Winner of the Frameline Jury Prize for First Feature, Lucio Castro captures the romanticism of a balmy European summer as these men explore the beautiful architecture and artwork of Barcelona. Is this just a summer fling or are they meant for each?

3) Pain and Glory

Acclaimed Spanish writer-director Pedro Almodóvar reteams with longtime collaborators Antonio Banderas and Penélope Cruz in Pain and Glory, a wistful meditation on cinema, sexuality, love, addiction, mortality, and the bond between mother and son. Depressed gay filmmaker Salvador Mallo (Banderas) is unable to work due to chronic pain and poor health. Asked to present one of his earliest films at a career retrospective, he’s reunited with its estranged star who he hasn’t spoken to in over thirty years.

4) Benjamin

After an initial attraction, what happens next? That’s the dilemma for our socially awkward hero Benjamin (Colin Morgan) in this wry comedy drama. He’s a young indie film director who falls for sweet musician Noah (Phénix Brossard) and tries to pursue a relationship – but he’ll need to do a bit of soul searching along the way.

British comedian, actor and TV presenter Simon Amstell writes and directs, surely drawing from his own take on the London cool-kid circuit. Balancing plenty of self-deprecating English wit with moments of tenderness, Benjamin is a cinematic balm for these cynical
times.

5) Seahorse

30 year old Freddy has long wanted to start his own family, but for him this ordinary desire comes with unique challenges. He is a gay transgender man. In this moving and insightful documentary we follow Freddy for three years as he ceases hormone treatment so he can fall pregnant. At first he views pregnancy as a practical option, but it soon prompts an unexpected reckoning with his relationship to masculinity and gender presentation.

Against a backdrop of increasing hostility towards trans people the world over, Freddy is forced to confront his own naivety and mine unknown depths of courage as he embarks on the journey to birth his own child.