28 Apr MGFF19 Feature Films Available to Stream
As we all continue to play our part by maintaining social distancing, sometimes the perfect way to pass the time is with a brilliant film, and the 26th Mardi Gras Film Festival was chock full of them.
Whether you’re looking to spend time with some big Hollywood names, ready to settle in with an indie favourite, or looking to unearth an under-appreciated hidden gem, every one of these titles is ready to watch without stepping foot out your door. Featuring Oscar-winning (and -nominated) titles, critical darlings, enlightening docos, and some unmissable retrospective picks, the MGFF19 program slate is more than worth a revisit. Find out what’s available to stream right now below.
Feeling short on time (or attention)? You’ll find an equally must-see selection of shorts from the 2019 festival right here.
Dir. Yen Tan, 2018, 85min, USA, English, Gay Man, Drama
It’s Christmas, 1985. Adrian, a young, closeted advertising executive, returns home with a secret: he has AIDS. After three years away, this may be his last chance to tell his family the truth – but will he? Yen Tan’s award-winning film is a moving and personal look at the AIDS crisis.
Dir. Arthur J. Bressan Jr, 1985, 81min, USA, English, Gay Man, Dramedy/Retrospective
Originally released in 1985, this groundbreaking dramedy is a landmark of gay cinema and the first narrative feature about AIDS. The simple yet powerful story shows the life-changing bond forged between a gay man with the disease and his volunteer hospital ‘buddy’. A snapshot of being gay in Reagan-era America, Buddies is as moving, thought provoking, and important today as it ever was.
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Dir. Marielle Heller, 2018, 106min, USA, English, Lesbian/Gay Man, Comedy/Drama
Lee Israel (Melissa McCarthy) used to be a best-selling celebrity biographer. Now she’s a broke cat lady out of favour with New York’s literary establishment. After selling a personal letter from Katharine Hepburn to pay a vet bill, Israel partners with devilish conman Jack Hock (Richard E. Grant) on a devious scam: forging the intimate letters of famous writers. Lee and Jack drunkenly spar and commiserate in equal measure in this hilarious and moving portrait of friendship between a lesbian and a gay man.
Dir. Darko Štante, 2018, 93min, Slovenia, Slovenian with English subtitles, Gay Man, Drama
Andrej has just landed in a youth detention centre. The newbie on the block, he struggles to find his place among the other inmates whilst also repressing his feelings for the handsome Željko, who starts using Andrej’s attraction to his advantage. This hard-hitting emotional portrayal of teenage angst and toxic masculinity takes an unflinching look at the raw impulses of adolescence and the insecurity that lies beneath.
Content warning: Scenes of violence
Available to stream on SBS On Demand
Erik & Erika
Dir. Reinhold Bilgeri, 2018, 89min, Austria, German with English subtitles, Intersex/Transgender Man, Drama
Erik & Erika tells the remarkable true story of intersex and transgender skier Erik Schinegger. Born with an intersex variation, Erik is assigned female at birth and raised as a girl in a small Austrian town. After rising to prominence as a skier, Erik undergoes a routine medical test where he discovers that he has internal testes. Now he must choose to either submit to the beliefs of everyone he knows, or fight for his own truth.
Available to stream on SBS On Demand
Dir. Yorgos Lanthimos, 2018, 119min, Ireland/UK/USA, Lesbian, Comedy/Drama
Renowned director Yorgos Lanthimos presents a queer historical biopic like no other. Queen Anne (played imperiously and hilariously by Olivia Colman) is having an illicit affair with Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz). However, the arrival of Abigail (Emma Stone) disturbs this apple cart when she too vies to be the object of the queen’s affections. The power play between these three women is shocking, funny and moving, making The Favourite truly something special.
Dir. Sonia Sebastian, 2018, 81min, USA, English, Lesbian, Comedy
Lisa Cordileone (Easy Abby) and Natasha Negovanlis (Carmilla, Almost Adults) play a delightfully mismatched couple forging ahead with their wedding despite the bills piling up. When Billie gets high and quits her job, she has to find alternative means of making cash, and quick! With a fabulous supporting cast featuring a host of talented and familiar faces, like Alexandra Billings (Transparent) and Megan Cavanagh (Exes and Ohs), Freelancers Anonymous is a hilarious screwball comedy without the heteronormativity.
Available to buy from VHX.tv
Dir. Marco Dutra & Juliana Rojas, 2017, 135min, Brazil, Portuguese with English subtitles, Lesbian, Drama/Horror
Set in contemporary São Paulo, this acclaimed Brazilian feature stylishly weaves romance, drama, horror, and comedy. Wealthy and mysterious Ana hires poor, lonely nurse Clara as a nanny for her unborn child. One night, during a full moon, the two women become passionate lovers. Their romance is short-lived, however, as Ana gives birth to a son who is not quite human, and Clara takes on the responsibility of protecting him. Good Manners is the queer genre film you’ve been waiting for.
The Happy Prince
Dir. Rupert Everett, 2018, 105min, UK/Belgium/Italy/Germany, English, Gay Man, Drama
Rupert Everett writes, directs, and stars in this passion project about the scandalous life and sorrowful death of Oscar Wilde. Once the most famous man in London, Wilde is now a shadow of his former self as he drifts around Paris trailing a coterie of outcasts who still idolise him. As Wilde regales them with tales of fleeting fame, unruly escapades, and tempestuous love affairs, a melancholy and poignant portrait emerges of a man the 19th century world was unprepared to accept.
Content warning: Threats of homophobic violence
Malila: The Farewell Flower
Dir. Anucha Boonyawatana, 2017, 96min, Thailand, Thai with English subtitles, Gay Man, Arthouse/Drama
A poetic and meditative depiction of love, loss, and the fragility of life set in rural Thailand shows former lovers Shane and Pitch reunite in their home village after years apart. As they reconnect, they start to release themselves from the burdens of the past. Lyrical and sincere, visionary director Anucha Boonyawatana delivers a film with a cathartic conclusion, rich with memorable imagery, beauty and symbolism.
Available to stream on Dekkoo
Dir. Ondi Timoner, 2018, 94min, USA, English, Gay Man/Bisexual Man/Queer, Drama
Matt Smith (Doctor Who, The Crown) gives a charismatic, sexy performance as Robert Mapplethorpe in this compelling biographical drama. Mapplethorpe chronicles the life of the renegade queer artist, from his early years struggling in New York, to having his photography shock and fascinate the art world in equal measure; through to his heyday as enfant terrible of late 20th-century art. An unmissable tribute to an artist whose unforgettable images still resonate.
Dir. James Ivory, 1987, 140min, UK, English, Gay Man, Drama/Retrospective
The sumptuous and sexually bold 1987 adaptation of E. M. Forster’s classic novel from Merchant Ivory. Set in repressive Edwardian England, Maurice examines the emotional conflict faced by a university student coming to terms with his homosexuality. James Wilby stars in the title role while pre-stardom Hugh Grant captivates as his platonic lover. Rupert Graves plays the gamekeeper who awakens Maurice’s dormant feelings. A timeless and inspiring tale of gay love transcending wealth and class.
Available to stream on Foxtel Now
Dir. Wanuri Kahiu, 2018, 82min, Kenya, English and Swahili with English subtitles, Lesbian, Drama/Romance
The first Kenyan film selected for Cannes – and initially banned in its home country – Rafiki (Friend) is a hip, bold, and powerful lesbian love story set on the colourful streets of Nairobi. When ambitious Kena and free-spirited Ziki, daughters of rival local politicians, meet the chemistry between them is undeniable. Friendship blossoms into young love, despite pressure from society to be “good Kenyan girls”, and the constant fear of harm if they’re caught.
Content warning: Homophobic violence
Available to stream on SBS On Demand
Dir. Camille Vidal-Naquet, 2018, 97min, France, French with English subtitles, Bisexual Man/Gay Man, Drama
Sauvage is a powerful portrait of a gay hustler on the streets of France. Leo (Félix Maritaud) was made to be loved. Wild, young and full of swagger, his puppy dog eyes give him away when he tells his clients he only kisses them when it’s “natural”. In writer-director Camille Vidal-Naquet’s feature debut that shocked Cannes, Maritaud delivers an intense performance with visceral abandon. The camera acts as a voyeur as Leo navigates this hedonistic lifestyle. Alone in his wild life, all Leo wants is safety, love and comfort – or does he?
Available to stream on Stan
Dir. Melanie Mayron, 2018, 95min, USA, English, Lesbian/Bisexual Woman, Drama/Romance
Snapshots is a nostalgic and turbulent drama based on real-life events. When three generations of women come together for a lakeside reunion in picturesque Missouri, family tensions bubble over as an old roll of film brings to light a love affair between matriarch Rose and her playful and enigmatic friend Louise in the early 1960s. Nostalgic lakeside flashbacks reveal a gripping romantic tale which is easy to be swept away by.
Dir. Jamie Patterson, 2018, 80min, UK, English, Gay Man/Queer, Comedy/Drama
This touching and wryly funny British film follows the burgeoning relationship between an ageing drag queen, Jackie (Derren Nesbitt), and Faith (Jordan Stephens), a newbie who joins the lineup at the Brighton nightclub where Jackie’s offensive on-stage shtick is popular. Re-evaluating life in and out of drag, Jackie finds a surprising ally in this feisty up-and-comer, and their blossoming friendship will change them both.
Two in the Bush: A Love Story
Dir. Laura Madalinski, 2018, 97min, USA, English, Bisexual Woman, Drama/Romance
When Emily loses her job and gets dumped by her cheating girlfriend on the same day, it seems like life is going nowhere. Things start looking up when she gets a job as a dominatrix’s assistant, and finds herself falling for her boss – and her boss’s boyfriend too. Delving into the intricacies of bisexuality and polyamory, this funny, sexy, and witty film explores love in all its forms and asks us what we’re willing to risk to get it.
Available to stream on Prime Video
You, Me and Him
Dir. Daisy Aitkens, 2017, 98min, UK, English, Lesbian/Bisexual Woman, Comedy/Drama
High-flying barrister Olivia (Lucy Punch) wants to be a mum but her freewheeling, pot smoking younger girlfriend Alex (Faye Marsay) isn’t ready. When Olivia announces that she’s started IVF, Alex gets drunk and sleeps with their neighbour, John (David Tennant). Now they’re both pregnant; and John – much to the women’s horror – wants to be the “daddy” for real. A breezy British comedy-drama with a bittersweet edge.
Every Act of Life
Dir. Jeff Kaufman, 2018, 90min, USA, English, Gay Man, Documentary Profile
If you’re not familiar with the work of the recently departed Tony Award-winning playwright Terrence McNally, consider this your master class. Featuring interviews with the man himself, plus a plethora of his Broadway pals – including Nathan Lane, Christine Baranski, and Stanley Tucci – this documentary celebrates an incredible queer activist and trailblazing theatre icon.
Light in the Water
Dir. Lis Bartlett, 2018, 75min, USA, English, Gay Man/Lesbian, Documentary History
This crowd-pleasing documentary lovingly recounts the origins of the West Hollywood Aquatic Club, or WH20. In 1982, a small team of dedicated non-professional swimmers began training for the inaugural Gay Games in San Francisco, creating a legacy of equality and inclusion that endures to this day. Using archival footage and extensive interviews, director Lis Bartlett paints an inspiring portrait of a tight-knit group of LGBTQ men and women who fought against homophobia in sport.
Dir. T Cooper, 2018, 93min, USA, English, Transgender Man, Documentary Profile
Man Made follows Mason, Rese, Dominic, and Kennie, four idiosyncratic and endearing trans guys living in different corners of the US as they prepare for TransFitCon, the world’s only bodybuilding competition for men of trans experience. Transgender director T Cooper’s tender documentary is a moving exploration of strength in its many forms that delves into the heart of the trans experience – one of resilience, solidarity, and navigating individual authenticity amidst complex social and political terrain.
Dir. Helle Jensen, 2017, 67min, USA, English, Transgender Woman/Queer, Documentary Profile
Miss Rosewood spotlights the transgressive performance work and life of transgender drag performer Rose Wood. Compared to the likes of Divine and Leigh Bowery, Wood’s intentionally explicit performance work uses bodily fluids and nudity to examine and challenge political and social norms. Beautifully juxtaposing the zen-like existence of Rose outside of her drag life, we see another more vulnerable side to her – that of a softly-spoken vintage furniture restorer undergoing a heart-wrenching gender transition later in life.
Content warning: Discussions about transphobic violence and unwanted surgery outcomes that some may find distressing
Available to stream on Revry
Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood
Dir. Matt Tyrnauer, 2017, 98min, USA, English, Bisexual Man/Gay Man/Lesbian, Documentary Profile
In the Golden Age of Hollywood it seems everyone from Cary Grant to Katharine Hepburn had same-sex lovers and the man setting it up (and quite often joining in) was Scotty Bowers, who worked from a lowly LA garage to match up hustlers with big names in the movie business. Now in his nineties, Bowers reflects on his somewhat salacious past.
Available to stream on Kanopy
Dir. Fiona Dawson & Gabriel Silverman, 2018, 92min, USA, English, Transgender/Lesbian, Documentary Profile
Over 15,000 transgender people serve in the military, making it the largest trans employer in America. Despite this, people continue to hide their gender identities because of regressive policies and institutionalised discrimination. TransMilitary is a powerful documentary recounting the stories of four transgender men and women as they work, bond with loved ones, and fight for the right to serve their country.
All information was correct at the time of publication. For the most up-to-date information about where you can watch a particular film we recommend using Just Watch.