Queer as Film
Paul Andrew talks to Mardi Gras Film Festival Director Lex Lindsay about this year's My Queer Career Awards. Whilst Filmmaker Craig Boreham discusses his entry, Drowning.
|Still from Drowning, actor Miles Szanto as Mik.|
Festival buzz for the 2011 Mardi Gras Film Festival is somewhere in the stratosphere right now. This is especially so for one particular festival highlight, the salubrious My Queer Career Awards. For filmmakers portraying Trans, Lesbian and Gay Australia, it’s the Pink Oscars.
The groundswell for this event has something to do with it being a fabulous awards ceremony “with a sense of occasion” that has existed for 18 years; showcasing the best and fairest in queer filmmaking. Awards that open doors, that honour winners with a decent prize booty, but most of all, awards that attract widespread recognition from film industry peers.
According to MGFF 11 Festival Director Lex Lindsay: “It‘s also the very first competition in the world to exclusively recognise the work of local LGBT filmmakers. There are various gay and lesbian film festivals internationally and nationally, for over 30 years now, each with their own awards and accolades, but My Queer Career was the first competition of its kind to be only open to film submissions solely made by fellow compatriots. “
Lindsay concedes that while the prize money is attractive- a booty valued at $15,000 this festival- he is clear that the buzz is largely to do with the storytelling itself, the images created by filmmakers about the way we see ourselves. “It's an absolute highlight of the festival because it is that one event where we get to come together and hear voices telling queer stories on screen. There's an amazing vibe in the cinema each year. There is something so unique and so delicious about the way Australians make films, for queer audiences, this is one of the very few times we will see Australian queer stories each and every year en masse.”
Sydney-based filmmaker Craig Boreham has been a nominee at the My Queer Career awards in recent years and his new short, Drowning, a coming-of-age film, is attracting some buzz of its own. Lindsay suggests that this is partly to do with being nominated for past awards and mostly due to Craig’s long standing service to community media production. Craig has not only made a significant number of exceptional queer short films, like Transient (2005) or Love Bite (2008), he's also worked with and supported so many Sydney queer filmmakers; he's a really central force in this community. “
“ Craig’s films always have a dark and edgy quality to them, an obsession with taboo, shadow behaviours and the grimy parts of our lives, but in truth, that is wrapped around a core of soulful, emotional fragility that always bubbles through in his work. “
“Craig has possibly been a finalist in My Queer Career more times than any other filmmaker. His film Transient took out the Audience Award a couple of years ago, and did really very well on the international circuit. His current short, Drowning, in this year's competition, marks a really beautiful progression in his work. Even though he continues to explore issues around young people finding their feet, there's a maturity and emotional complexity to the way he delivers this story that has clearly developed over his career. He's now developing a feature and a TV series, and was nominated for the Rising Talent Award at IF this year and is our nominee for the inaugural Orlando Award - a national award for a queer filmmaker.”
Boreham himself is quietly pleased with the attention his work is receiving, he reveals his focus is not gaining industry accolades or triumph or bathing in stratospheric buzz, he remains alert and mindful to the truth of the bottom line, the art of storytelling itself. His philosophy for storytelling today, in the digital age of cross platform media- is resolute: “Storytelling is the same as it has always been, I reckon; to inspire us, to show us how to be in the world, to share our experiences and ideas.”
“As a writer I tend to be drawn to stuff I feel passionate about. I like stories that make me feel something. I tend to be drawn into stories about desire, - love, tragedy, the big stuff- that get's you in the heart. As a director it's a different process. It's a lot about collaboration and working with other people's take on it. I love finding new ideas that are born out of working with actor's... or with a cinematographer, or editor... everyone involved in a film has a take on the story and how they think it should be told, and everyone working in this industry is usually pretty passionate and full of ideas. A film is written first as a script, then again on set and then re-written again in the edit suite. I love that constant evolution of a story.”
Boreham is clearly emotive when it comes to describing the origins and script development behind his My Queer Career entry.
“Drowning was born out of a personal experience; the death of a friend, the way that affected everyone. There is a lot of other stuff going on in the script and some of that is based on personal experience too, some is just what came from the characters when I was writing it. I wanted to explore the idea of how grief can completely rattle our world, placing you in a headspace where you really aren't in control of your actions. This is heightened by the fact that the central character is only nineteen, at a place in his life where he really isn't sure who he is yet.”
“‘Pitch my film in seven words, no spoilers?’How’s this “his response to the closing question. “The scars of youth create the adults we become."
"Ok that's nine.”
See the trailer here:
MGFF11 details here: