Mardi Gras Film Festival Director Lisa Rose rolls out a hybrid Festival to fit the times
Ahead of the Mardi Gras Film Festival from 18 February – 4 March, we spoke to Festival Director Lisa Rose about creating a hybrid-model with both in person and online events, and to learn about the NSW talent featuring in the program.
Adapting to the times, Queer Screen’s 28th Mardi Gras Film Festival is both in-cinema and on-demand this year for the first time. Tell us how it will work.
Like many other industries our digital transformation has been accelerated this year through the necessity to cater for any audience members that are uncomfortable visiting the cinema, while also providing a collective in-cinema community experience that is loved by all.
To do this we have created a hybrid Festival model with more than 60 socially distanced cinema screenings in five different Sydney cinemas while 70 per cent of our films will be available on-demand Australia-wide. We are selling tickets to all through our website and app and they will be shown during the Festival run between 18 February – 4 March.
What do you think other film festivals can learn from this model?
We were very lucky to have been able to hold our Festival last year before the pandemic really hit Australia and to also deliver Queer Screen Film Fest mostly online in September 2020. Having that test run on a smaller scale has given us the confidence to roll out the on-demand hybrid model for our 28th Mardi Gras Film Festival.
The biggest lesson we have learnt is there is now a proven appetite for people being able to watch our films on-demand all over the country. At the moment a lot of filmmakers, sales agents, distributors and the classification board are open to festivals pivoting in this way, and only time will tell if that will remain the case in a post-pandemic world.
Can you tell us a bit about how you and your team curated this year’s program – what kind of trends are you seeing in LGBTIQ cinema?
We are always buoyed by the fresh new generation of filmmakers and subject matters and genres that are being tackled by filmmakers making LGBTIQ+ content. The diversity of story and genre is the most exciting trend we have been seeing.
And please tell us about the NSW-made films.
We’re very excited to screen the World Premiere of The Greenhouse, which is a recipient of the Queer Screen Completion Fund in 2018. Director Thomas Wilson-White's feature debut promises a magic realist spin on familial drama, showcasing an alternative Australian family.
Her Own Music from writer and director Olivia Aleksoski is one of the short films that is competing in Australia’s richest prize for LGBTIQ+ short films. My Queer Career was produced in Sydney and tells the story of Maddie's blossoming relationship with a fellow student. Also screening in competition is a film about reaching out to an old flame in search of closure, Call History from writer and director Lillian Paterson. Both films feature rising star Zoe Terakes.
Peach is a comedic short about a socially anxious young woman landing a hot date, which screens before Dutch episodic Anne+ and comes from the team at The Story Mill.
And any other NSW talents to look out for?
Under My Skin is an Australian/US co-production, which was filmed in LA with a largely Australian cast and crew including NSW based producer Raynen O’Keefe. It’s a compelling film featuring a very modern love story and starring four non-binary actors.
View Mardi Gras Film Festival’s full program now!
Image: Still from Call History. Courtesy the Festival.