The 26th annual Queer Film Festival is entering its final weekend, bringing films you just won’t see in cinemas anywhere else. Here are three picks worth catching before it closes.
Sex on drugs sounds fun, right? How about a crystal meth-fuelled orgy? This documentary is about more than just the relationship between drugs and sex in the gay community. It goes deep into one sector of the London gay scene’s impersonal, dissociated relationship with sex. Chemsex hook-ups are one-off encounters mixing sex and hard drugs, and they’re apparently a growing trend, leading to drug addiction, psychological damage and the spread of HIV. Sexual repression, the film postulates, leads to unhealthy attitude towards sex and dangerous excess. It’s sobering stuff, but this film never crosses the line into being tabloid-like, exploitative or judgmental.
Screening Saturday at 4.15pm.
The Duke of Burgundy
Director Peter Strickland, who also brought us the hypnotically weird Berberian Sound Studio, returns with The Duke of Burgundy. In a sunny, fairytale-like countryside, a mistress and servant play a long, slow, sadomasochistic role-play. But all isn’t as it seems.
The Duke of Burgundy is as much about the absolute normalcy of a long-term relationship as it is about kink and power, and the askew relationship at the heart of the story is perfectly matched to the beautifully intimate cinematography and the soundtrack by duo Cat’s Eyes. The film looks and sounds as good as it feels. And this one passes the Bechdel Test with flying colours – you won’t even see a man for the 104-minute duration.
Screening Saturday at 6pm.
Remembering the Man
Holding the Man, the true story of two childhood sweethearts (Timothy Conigrave and John Caleo) holding their love together in the face of bigotry, jealously and eventually, HIV, was one of the best Australian films of last year. Remembering the Man revisits the story in documentary form, built from an impressive collection of archive footage, photographs, re-enactments and extensive audio interviews with Conigrave himself. The real power of the documentary over Holding the Man’s fictionalised account is the way Remembering the Man can illustrate the hostile environment of Australia in the ’70s and ’80s towards homosexuality.
Screening Monday April 11 at 6.15.
The Melbourne Queer Film Festival runs at ACMI until April 11.