MGFF20: The Struggle to Belong is Real

By Vanessa McQuarrie

Queer Screen’s 27th Mardi Gras Film Festival, screening from 13–27 February 2020 in Sydney before touring to Canberra, Parramatta, Lismore, Newcastle and the Blue Mountains in March, includes a plethora of films examining how LGBTIQ+ people seek to belong from a global perspective. Right Now previews the top 5 documentary and narrative features with a human rights theme.


Tu Me Manques

Directed by Rodrigo Bellot


Saturday 15 February at 6pm, Event Cinemas George St

Playwright Rodrigo Bellott adapted his work into this film, which sees the lead character channelling his grief over his partner’s death into a play. At the heart of this very innovative and ‘meta’ film is a continuation of the play’s plea for acceptance and tolerance. Bellott’s initial play, about a father who travels from Bolivia to New York to confront his dead son’s lover, inspired protests and a legal change in his homeland. The film explores both the cultural homophobia and subsequent cultural shift that became known as the ‘Tu Me Manques’ effect.



Defiant Souls

Directed by Fernando Pérez and Laura Cazador


Saturday 15 February at 6.30pm, Event Cinemas George Street

Defiant Souls (Insumisas) is the extraordinary story of a gender trial from 19th century Cuba. Acclaimed surgeon Enrique Faber settles and works as a doctor while searching for their missing child. But Enrique’s care and compassion raise suspicion. The result is a scandalous trial, that sees Enrique convicted of concealing their assigned gender. While the story is historic in origin the film is contemporary in feeling.



Queer Japan

Directed by Graham Kolbeins


Saturday 15 February at 8.30pm, Dendy Cinemas Newtown

Meet the artists and activists and everyday people who are living large and rather radically defying social norms in Japan. Those who identify as ‘queer’ can and do land anywhere on the spectrum of gender and sexuality, and this documentary, the culmination of more than a hundred interviews, is wholly inclusive. Brilliant and strange and fascinating, Queer Japan is a kaleidoscope of underground, Avant Garde, contemporary LGBTQ+ culture.



Unsettled: Seeking Refuge in America

Directed by Tom Shepard


Sunday 16 February at 7pm, Dendy Cinemas, Newtown

Unsettled provides an opportunity to bear witness to the real lives of the real people who are conspicuously absent from the political and philosophical debates about asylum seekers. When four queer refugees arrive in San Francisco to seek asylum in the United States, they struggle to secure basic human needs (food, shelter and income) and overcome loneliness, homesickness and isolation. Having fled constant harassment and threats from strangers, acquaintances, neighbours, friends and loved ones alike at home, they now face more fear and uncertainty as anti-immigrant sentiment rises.



Walking with Shadows

Directed by Aoife O’Kelly


Wednesday 19 February at 8.30pm, Dendy Cinemas, Newtown

Based on Jude Dibia’s novel of the same name (the first in Nigerian literary history to ‘humanise’ a gay character) and featuring the same empathetic depth as the book, this film explores the damage done by hiding who you are from the world around you. Ebele Njoko, who has re-invented himself as Adrian Njoko, perfect husband and father, struggles to stop the snowballing effects of his sexuality being revealed as his carefully created world comes crashing down.



Tickets are available at


Review – Renewal: Five Paths to a Fairer Australia

By Georgia Cerni

Sophie Cousins’ book Renewal: Five Paths to a Fairer Australia is, in many respects, a proposal. For Cousins, the COVID-19 pandemic has provided Australians with an opportunity to reconsider the ways our society currently functions. Cousins aptly makes her case – while in some ways the pandemic reinforced burgeoning inequalities, it also presented us the chance to apply collectivist values to solve systemic problems.