Diversity within the LGBTIQ community? Search no further than the 24th Mardi Gras Film Festival program. Curated by Queer Screen, the range of topics and genres is truly impressive.

At the season launch last night, Queer Screen’s President Lisa Rose spoke about their mission to provide a “celebration of queer storytelling on screen”. Inclusive, respectful stories full of creativity, inspiration and pride.

There are big big films and there are small big films and everything in between. Like MOONLIGHT  which has just been nominated in several categories including Best Picture for the 2017 Oscars. There is singalong, a smellovison 3 D FINDING DORY for the rainbow family and even mystery movie plus more superb international and home-grown documentaries, dramas, romances etc than you can poke a glitter wand at.

Then there are the shorts. Gay, Lesbian, Transgender and Asia/Pacific shorts all have showings and if this doesn’t suit there is even an evening of Mixed Shorts.

In addition, there is Speed Networking and Conversations and Forums for Queer Filmmakers. There are showings in the Blue Mountains, Parramatta and Canberra. There is also MY QUEER CAREER which is Australia’s biggest Queer short film prize. The winner will be announced Thursday 23rd Feb.

The launch saw the announcement of the 2 prize-winners of the QUEER SCREEN COMPLETION FUND which has been established to provide independent LGBTIQ filmmakers and storytellers with financial support. Awarded second prize of $4000 was JADE OF DEATH. Jade of Death is a 6 part supernatural series, which follows small town girl, Jade who has a powerful psychic ability. She can hear when and how people are going to die. It looks fantastically creepy and atmospheric.

The winner of the $8000 first prize was  NOTHING TO LOSE. This looks just extraordinary. A documentary, this film has grown out the renowned dance theatre company Force Majeure’s production of the same name which explored the personal and public obsession with size while creating space for the incredible cast of performers to explore their large bodies through movement.

The filmmakers have been working in this doco since 2013. The remarkable Kelli Jean Drinkwater told the crowd that the Queer Screen funding was essential to getting the film to the big screen and thanked them for their “generous, giant cheque”. I am very keen to see this work when it is finished, hopefully next year. Previous winner TEENAGE KICKS was included this year and there was a thank you reel from their cast.

Actually, every snippet at the launch was a must see but one in particular has stuck firmly in my head. It made me cry… 30 seconds and I was welling up. Not just me either. The Bear I had just made friends with had his hanky out. Who knew Bears even had hankies?! The whole room was pretty much in awe at the power of it.

OUT OF IRAQ. It’s a doco spanning thirteen years and four countries about a brave translator for the US army who falls in love and his struggle to get his lover out of a country which beheads gay people. That was the shot that really brought home why the public, uninhibited and resilient telling of LGBTIQ stories is vital. We are so lucky to have the opportunity that Queer Screen and Mardi Gras give us each year.

The program is vast, has stories for everyone and the details are on the website and Facebook page.