Short films delight and inspire at Mardi Gras Film Festival: Festival Manager, James Woolley
As part of its program each year, Mardi Gras Film Festival presents the best in short film-making talent in a few exciting screenings. We asked the Festival's Manager, James Woolley, to talk us through the line-up and the Festival's programming process:
Film programming is a tough but very fun job. We love to keep our shorts packages as interesting and eclectic as possible – you’ll never see two similar films in a set – which means we’re sometimes stuck watching some really strange films (one day I would love to put together a collection of the weirdest ones, and I don’t necessarily mean the good-but-weird ones). When you find a great film it makes watching hours of crappy films so worthwhile. Let me take you through some of the gems we’re screening in 2016.
One of my favourite films is Peacock, which we are screening just weeks after the film’s enormous success at Sundance with five sold out screenings, in our Mixed Shorts package. It’s an absurdist Czech romance about two teenage boys who are hiding from conscription during a war. Full of belly-laughs and genuine shocks, this is a must-see! Screening in the same package is Vessels, the extraordinary 2015 Iris Prize winner, which follows a brutal illegal breast implant surgery performed on a transgender woman in Los Angeles - you will squirm in your seat, but it’s unlike anything else you have ever seen. Pearl of Africa is the most inspiring and political film of the Mixed Shorts collection – it’s a half-hour documentary about an out-trans woman in Uganda, a place known for homophobia and transphobia. Cleopatra is living a comfortable and happy life, but who longs for acceptance by her country. It turns the usually depressing narrative of LGBTIQ life in Africa on its head, but still doesn’t lose sight of the true reality Cleopatra could be facing.
I love our Asia Pacific Queer Film Festival Alliance Shorts package because we get to showcase the best new talent from Asia, which is one of the brightest emerging areas for new queer cinema. The highlight is The Fox Exploits the Tiger’s Might, a powerhouse Indonesian film that premiered at Cannes in 2015. The film explores burgeoning sexuality between two boys of different races and class, and how one may use it against another. I’m glad it’s becoming less rare for a LGBTIQ film to come out of places like Indonesia. This was a wonderful find.
In Gay Shorts we have secured the Berlin Film Festival’s Teddy Award winner San Cristobal, a beautiful story of two men who explore a remote Chilean island. Whereas in Lesbian Shorts my favourite is the chilling docu-drama In the Hollow, where a woman retraces the steps she took with her girlfriend in the 70’s before the girlfriend was murdered.
There are almost 50 shorts screening at the festival, and I could spend all day telling you about them, but instead you should just come and see them yourself.
These features have shorts screening before them.
Shorts packages listed here.