Shots from Fireworks and Sunflower (Supplied - Mardi Gras Film Festival)
Shots from Fireworks and Sunflower (Supplied - Mardi Gras Film Festival)
4 min read

The 31st Mardi Gras Film Festival (MGFF) is here, and it’s not just about popcorn and previews. This year, Queer Screen throws down the gauntlet, inviting audiences to engage in lively post-screening discussions and passionate debates fueled by a program guaranteed to get tongues wagging.

“The theme this year is all about sparking conversations,” declared Festival Director Lisa Rose.

“We want people to be buzzing with things to dissect and debate as soon as the credits roll.


“This lineup is packed with thought-provoking films that will have you digging deep and sharing your thoughts.”

Get ready to be overwhelmed (in the best way possible) with a whopping 161 films and events spread across 77 unique programs. From agreeing or disagreeing with fellow cinephiles on the merits of each masterpiece to lively panel discussions exploring the themes and social impact of the films, MGFF24 promises to be a vibrant haven for passionate dialogue.

This year’s festival ventures beyond familiar haunts, bringing the magic to exciting new venues like the Sydney Opera House (host to a special music and film double bill) and the State Library of NSW for insightful panel discussions. The ever-popular Westpac OpenAir Cinema also makes a welcome return, following last year’s sold-out screening of Cate Blanchett’s “TÁR”.

Prepare to belt out your favourite tunes and ponder life’s big questions at a special sing-along-with-THE SOUND OF MUSIC screening – a collaboration between The Sisters and Brothers of The Order of Perpetual Indulgence Sydney and the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Choir. It’s the perfect pre-debate warm-up, injecting a dash of fun and nostalgia into the mix.

So, whether you’re a seasoned film buff or simply looking for a stimulating and inclusive space to engage with diverse perspectives, the Mardi Gras Film Festival has something for you.

Dive into the program, pick your must-sees, and get ready to dive headfirst into conversations that will ignite, inspire, and challenge you.

Remember, sometimes the most exciting stories unfold after the credits roll, so grab your ticket, gather your friends, and join the conversation – it’s going to be epic!

Mark your calendars for Sydney screenings from February 15th to 29th, followed by a nationwide on-demand streaming encore from March 1st to 11th.

Tickets are already on sale here, so grab yours and prepare to have your mind blown (and maybe your opinions challenged).

Here are some of the standouts from an incredible array of films.

FEMME – The Festival opens with the Sydney première of British neo-noir thriller FEMME, a fierce psychodrama featuring phenomenal performances from Misfits star Nathan Stewart-Jarrett and George MacKay (Pride,1917), about a drag star given the opportunity for revenge following a homophobic attack.

SUNFLOWER – Is the impressive first feature from director Gabriel Carrubba. Tender, atmospheric and touching, it follows Leo, a 17-year-old from working-class Melbourne who is questioning his sexuality.

Shot from Sunflower (Supplied - Mardi Gras Film Festival)
Shot from Sunflower (Supplied – Mardi Gras Film Festival)

SAHELA – Is set in Western Sydney, where Vir, a second-generation Indian-Australian who is close to fulfilling his parents’ dreams, can no longer ignore his own desires. A deeply moving film that beautifully captures the not-uncommon connection between a gay man and his wife.

Shot from Sahela (Supplied - Mardi Gras Film Festival)
Shot from Sahela (Supplied – Mardi Gras Film Festival)

F.L.Y. -Trent Kendrick and Rafael Albarran take on writing, directing and lead-acting duties in this wistful comedy set in the all-too-familiar past. They play Max and Rafael, ex-boyfriends who are just re-establishing a connection in Los Angeles when the pandemic hits, and they find themselves living under the one roof – for better or worse! The situation forces both of them to face up to some hard realities and also to learn more about each other than they did before. A film that celebrates living your truth, and trusting the journey it takes you on.

BLUE LIGHTS – Argentinian director Lucas Santa Ana will personally introduce Blue Lights, a sophisticated exploration of love, loss, friendship and forgiveness that unfolds over the course of an evening, when seven close friends and family members come together for a 70th birthday dinner. A captivating dramedy with an ensemble cast, its intricacies and complexities will be the talk of the town.

Shot from Blue Lights (Supplied - Mardi Gras Film Festival)
Shot from Blue Lights (Supplied – Mardi Gras Film Festival)

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe – Based on Benjamin Alire Sáenz’s critically acclaimed young adult novel, this evocative story of friendship and self-discovery brings a feeling of sun-kissed nostalgia to the classic coming-of-age tale.

QUEENDOM – Documentary centrepiece Queendom is the exhilarating story of a radical non-binary artist, Gena Marvin (she/her), who defiantly performs on the streets of Moscow to raise awareness of the oppression of LGBTIQ+ people. Her vulnerability, bravery, and other-worldly costumes are astounding.

FIREWORKS – It’s summer in 1980s Sicily and life spills outside for swimming, Vespa rides, outdoor family dinners and crowding around analogue TVs for raucous football celebrations. Shy, handsome Gianni works as a car mechanic at the local garage but is mercilessly taunted by the machismo-filled townsmen for being gay. But under the sweaty veneer of another hot summer, simmers the dark reality of conservative society. When Gianni’s world collides with carefree Nino, their lives change forever. Inspired by the true story of a love that blossomed over the course of that fateful summer, Fireworks offers an intimate exploration of family and intolerance.

ALL OF US STRANGERS – The Festival returns to the Westpac OpenAir Cinema to host a special screening of ALL OF US STRANGERS, a heart-wrenching film about grief, love, loneliness and hope, from director Andrew Haigh (WEEKEND) and starring Paul Mescal and out actor Andrew Scott and featuring Clare Foy.



Last Updated on Feb 2, 2024

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