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Melbourne Queer Film Festival announces Jury Award Winners

The Jury Awards winners for the 33rd Melbourne Queer Film Festival have been revealed, showcasing a diverse range of talent and inspirational stories. 

The City of Melbourne Award for Best Australian Short Film valued at $5,000 goes to Jia, directed by Vee Shi (pictured below). Jia (meaning home in Chinese) follows the story of Ming, a grieving Chinese mother, who arrives in Australia to embark on a road trip with a young Caucasian man, Eric to remember her late son.

Vee Shi said: “At age 17, I moved to Australia from a village in China. That was 16 years ago. The familiar has become distant and exists only as memories in photographs. But the sound of my mother’s voice and the love in her eyes still feel like home. There are 500,000 words in Chinese, but my mother doesn’t know many because she never went to school. And over the years, we have fewer and fewer words to communicate as my Chinese deteriorates. But our love deepens despite the language, generational and cultural barriers. So, I made Jia with almost no dialogue. It’s a letter to my mother. It encapsulates my deepest love for her but also my most terrifying fear and a secret that I am unable to tell in words.”

The VicScreen Award for Best Director Australian Short Film Prize of $2500 is The Pansy of Pickadee, directed by Gus George and Paddy Morahan. The film tells the story of a queer young man and a town on the verge of destruction. When all else fails, the young man uses his special skills to save his friends and family and becomes the hero he was born to be.

The Shaun Miller Award for Best Australian Documentary Short, goes to The Love of My Life, directed by Francesca Rizzoli and Trevor John Graham. The Love of My Life is a journey to the heart of a vivid love story, closely observed. Gail and Lisette waited 60 years to live their lives freely. Finally, after four marriages and three children, they were able to marry for the first time, as their true selves – two lesbian women of transgender experience- in love.

The MQFF Award for Best First Feature Narrative goes to Birder, directed by Nate Dushku. Birdwatcher Kristian Brooks invades a nude queer campground on a remote lake in New Hampshire’s wilds. He wears whatever he needs to ensnare the locals in his dark fetish in this nightmarish erotic thriller.

The MQFF Award for Best Feature Documentary was snapped up by Equal the Contest, directed by Mitch Nivalis. The story follows a non-binary filmmaker who joins a new local women’s footy club in Regional Victoria. A simple desire to play becomes a complex journey of inclusion and belonging and an unexpected turn means the team has to fight to play. Their campaign challenges age old sporting traditions and joins the wider movement for gender equity.

The MQFF Award for Best International Short Fiction goes to We Are Animals, directed by Thijs Bouman, where a killer makes boys disappear without a trace. He is a monster against his will, dependent on the blood of his victims. When lonely Bram falls in love with this mysterious boy, a dangerous relationship unfolds.

The MQFF Award for Audience Choice Best Short Film was awarded to Good Times and That’s Okay, directed by Amanda Kaye. The film follows a 70-year-old closeted woman who has to confront her faith as she learns what true love is from a sex worker named Destiny. Amanda Kaye said: “Good Times and That’s Okay is my careful and delicate attempt to tell a story about Terri, a 70-year-old closeted woman who has never experienced love in her entire life except for her designed love for Jesus Christ. Her late curiosity about an intimate connection quickly escalates when she takes a brave first step into a brothel.

MQFF CEO David Martin Harris said: “I’d like to thank our wonderful supporters who make MQFF’s Awards possible. We’re proud to acknowledge and support these heart-warming and fascinating films from Australia and around the globe. I congratulate all the winners on their well-deserved accolades.”

The Melbourne Queer Film Festival (MQFF) is the biggest and longest-running queer film festival in Australia, screening the best Australian/International queer films. MQFF aims to engage the community with the best LGBTQIA+ content in order to educate, entertain and celebrate diversity. MQFF is proudly supported by government partners: The City of Melbourne, The City of Stonnington, Department of Families Fairness and Housing, and VicScreen; as well as major partner: ME Bank.

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