Filmmaker Goran Stolevski doesn’t want to contribute to the “bury your gays” trope, where homesexual characters are swiftly killed off in tragic circumstances.

Following the release of his first two feature films in as many years, the Macedonian-Australian filmmaker is about to release his third film, about a group of misfits in North Macedonia and the universality of their bonds and experiences. Housekeeping for Beginners, like the Macedonian-Australian filmmaker’s previous release, the queer love story Of an Age, explores the complexities of everyday queer life, balancing heavier subject matter with moments of comedic relief. Finding that sweet spot is a point of pride for Stolevski.

“I think documenting that [balance] is so important,” he tells Broadsheet. “Because the queers, [we need to be] associated with dying of AIDS in the ’90s or whatever in order to have our story televised. As if that’s all [queer] life is about. But when you have to face oppression as a queer person, you’re trying to live the fullest life possible; you have every feeling on the emotional spectrum in your day-to-day life. And I think that’s what needs to be preserved and documented.”

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Though Housekeeping for Beginners is about the slow decline of Suada, a queer Roma woman who has been diagnosed with cancer, the depiction of this decline is more nuanced than those of many filmmakers before Stolevski who have revelled in the opportunity to “bury their gays”.

“I don’t like dwelling on people’s misery and bleakness unnecessarily,” says Stolevski, a queer man himself. “Especially populations that are usually associated with weakness and misery. I don’t really like queer people – or really anyone, ideally – having to undergo violence, whether it be physical or emotional or verbal or otherwise.

“[Though] we know what’s coming, it’s the tenacity and fire and strength of that character I wanted to document. Dwelling on [the pain] would feel exploitative and indulgent and cliched to me.”

Instead, much of Housekeeping for Beginners, which will close Queer Screen at the Mardi Gras Film Festival on February 29 and is set for general release on May 9, explores what it’s like for Suada’s found family to live on without her in a society still stuck on traditional ideas of what a family should look like, and in which the Roma ethnic minority remains maligned. What we see is a realistic depiction of the strength and resilience of the queer community, and even in the face of death, Stolevski allows his characters to experience emotions beyond grief.

“They’re experiencing joy and fun. They’re singing and making quips,” he says. “And there’s a sense of strength reflected in the fact that they can joke about shit. Even stuff that would destroy another person is something they can joke off genuinely, and not out of pain, but just because they’re stronger than that.”

Despite the film following a troupe of queer characters, Stolevski says their feelings and emotions are universal, resulting in a story that transcends labels.

“When you’re watching these characters, you’re not thinking that these are gay feelings exclusively. I mean, they are gay, but they’re as important as anyone else’s. They’re as fundamental.”

Housekeeping for Beginners screens at Queer Screen at Event Cinemas George Street on February 29, and will be widely released on May 9.