MQFF as a counterpublic sphere

Melbourne Queer Film Festival is an annual LGBT film festival which is held in Melbourne, Australia. The festival began in 1991 in order to response to the New Wave of Queer Cinema. MQFF is a non-profit organization governed by a voluntary Board of Management, staffed by a small team of committed professionals and supported by an army of generous volunteers. 2018 Melbourne Queer Film Festival began on 15 March and ended on 25 March, screening over 120 films from 18 countries as well as breaking the record of 23,000 audiences. The festival set three awards which are Best Australian Short Film, Best First Feature and Best Documentary. Nowadays, MQFF has become a leading international queer film festival as well as being regarded as the largest queer film event in the Southern Hemisphere.

According to Fraser (1990, 1222), “subaltern counterpublics are discursive arenas where members of subordinate social groups invent and circulate counter discourses to formulate oppositional interpretations of their identities, interests and needs”. Separated from mainstream film festivals, Melbourne Queer Film Festival is an exhibition to provide films of certain content which is homosexuality to expose identities and representations of queer as well as speaking out the voices of queer. Meanwhile, it is an Australian alternative community event to offer a spatial space in Melbourne for gays and lesbians who are marginalized outside the conventional meeting spaces come and regard their participation as a community. In this way, MQFF is not just an event to provide an alternative content to its target audiences, but also defining itself as a marginalized position and friction against the dominant public. When browsing the official website of MQFF, audiences can find a special event called Queer Filmmaker Workshop. The workshop was held for a small group of people to write, direct and shoot a two-minute film together, aiming at providing an opportunity to amplify the voices of the LGBTIQ community by empowering real people to share their stories. Through this event, queer can express their identities and discourses through films on the basis of their daily life as well as communicating with each other during the process of making films. Thus, people who have shared experiences and values can have a sense of belonging when participating in viewing and active discussions. In general, MQFF is an alternative film festival which forms a utopia of democracy through offering marginalized group, queer a safe space to express their identities and get a collective sense.

According to Warner (2002), the queer counterpublic circulates in “special, protected venues” or in “limited publications”. In this way, alternative film festivals serve for “a closed community” and audiences of queer film festivals are stable, which is not helpful for development of MQFF. However, it is essential for MQFF to come up with strategies to make the queer counterpublic more open and versatile, aiming at attracting more potential audiences. Besides LGBTIQ community, in order to attract more audiences such as middle-class public, students and cinephiles, MQFF emphasizes the good quality and cultural significance of films which represent identities of queer. Meanwhile they screen a lot of types of films such as documentaries, animations and comedies to meet demands of more audiences.

 

Warner M. (2002), Publics and Counterpublis. New York: Zone Books

Fraser N. (1990) Rethinking the Public Sphere: A Contribution to the Critique of Actually Existing Democracy. Social Text: 56-80

 

MQFF-2018-Freak-show

melbourne-queer-film-festival-2018-community-event1

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