After years of being produced by Brisbane Powerhouse (which remains a major funding partner), BQFF is turning 18 and stepping out on its own. The result will be as wild, poignant and memorable as the best kind of coming-of-age tale.

BQFF co-directors Shanon King and Justin Marshman are thrilled by the possibilities of going solo. “It’s really exciting to have complete, unencumbered autonomy,” King says. “It means the festival is nurtured and grown by members of the queer community. We believe it’s important to maintain the legacy of the previous directors, Sara Neal and Lisa Daniel, but like all 18-year-olds, we’re looking to the future and where we can grow.”

In 2017, King and Marshman have assembled a fittingly boundary-pushing line-up of diverse LQBTQI+ cinema from around the world. Here’s what they reckon you can’t miss:

KIKI

“Our opening-night film is as much a statement of the direction of this year’s festival as it is a clear indication of diversity on screen, disrupting the heteronormative views of society and mainstream cinema. Plus, it’s really fun. It was important for us to challenge the identities of queer representation, and KIKI is a shining example of this. It’s a collaboration between Twiggy Pucci Garçon [the gatekeeper of Kiki, an underground, LGBTQI ballroom subculture formed in New York] and Swedish filmmaker Sara Jordenö. Their insider-outsider approach to their stories breathes fresh life into the representation of a marginalised community who demand visibility and real political power.”

“For fans of Paris is Burning.”

The Nest

“A programmer's delight is to find up-and-coming talent, and when we found The Nest we realised we were onto something special. Slick, stylish but real and told in four episodes, we see the story of Bruno, who deserts the army in search of his long-lost, but much revered, brother in seaside Brazil. He meets a mysterious woman claiming to be his brother’s friend, and a band of misfit queer punks – but will he find his missing family?”

“For people who like stories that love to dance, but aren’t afraid to cut a bitch.”

The Lives of Therese

“Telling the story of French feminist and activist Thérèse Clerc, this film takes us on a journey from deathbed to 1950s housewife, Catholic, mother, Marxist, lesbian and beyond. The “lives” in the title is really apt, because this is a woman who’s lived. Telling anything much more will lessen the film’s impact, but in the spirit of self-examination and reflection, this is a really classy, tender portrait from the director of Les Invisibles (BQFF 2013).”

“For feminists, mothers, women and people who’ll get older.”

Out Run

“Surprisingly pertinent to Australia’s current battles for marriage equality is Out Run, a film about transgender woman Bemz Benedito’s effort to run for congress in the Philippines. Unfortunately, in a conservative country, rights for the LGBTIQ community are hard won (sound familiar?). Benedito and her team find themselves recruiting an army of working-class transgender hairdressers and beauty queens in a historic effort to elect a transgender woman who heads the world’s only LGBT political party.”

“For fans of Benjamin Law’s Gaysia.”

The Pass

“The Pass offers a tender portrait of lives disrupted by the decisions made out of love and out of spite. It’s a cheeky and romantic explosion of testosterone and tenderness, in the same vein as the HBO series Looking and Andrew Haigh’s film Weekend. Told over three acts, this hit of London’s BFI Flare film festival features gay man-of-the-minute Russell Tovey (Looking).”

“For sport-loving men and lovers of sporty men.”

Tomcat

“A quintessential example of new-wave queer cinema, Austrian film Tomcat closes BQFF this year; having taken out a prestigious Teddy Award at the 2016 Berlin International Film Festival. The extent of one person’s love for another is tested in this mystery-thriller film, which questions our very notion of how deep a connection we have with our loved ones. Telling you anything about the film itself will tell you too much, but we guarantee this is the one that’ll have everyone talking.”

“For pet owners.”

Our Love Story

“Having fresh Korean film Our Love Story in the festival is a real win for Brisbane, as we’re one of the first cities in the world lucky enough to see it. It’s a really cute date film about the first shoots of love, understanding attraction and the odd places infatuation can spring from. Our Love Story leaves you feeling a little warmer and a little less bitter.”

“For first dates.”

Asia Pacific Queer Film Festival Alliance Shorts

“In 2017, we’re proud to be part of the Asia Pacific Queer Film Festival Alliance, bringing us to peer status with festivals like Mardi Gras Film Festival and Melbourne Queer Film Festival, and with other festivals in China, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, India and more. The alliance has so many amazing local and regional films that we could put them all into one session – so we did.”

“For short attention spans.”

Brisbane Queer Film Festival runs from March 10–19 at New Farm Cinemas.

bqff.com.au