Searching for ‘what matters’ at Mardi Gras Film Festival

This year’s Mardi Gras theme: “What Matters” made us think about how we measure and judge progress and equality, it let us retrace the historical movements that were the blueprint for the peaceful strategy of debate during a volatile plebiscite, and it brought forward a number of original works from LGBTIQ+ creatives in an extravaganza of over 100+ events.

Highlights from our Mardi Gras Film Festival Experience:

CRYSTAL CITY confronted the motivators and deep rooted causes of crystal meth use across segments of the New York LGBTIQ community.   It will be hard to admit for many recreational or addicted users, but it’s authenticity leaves many messages for all to unpack.

From the self destructive sex worker, to the physically abused teen, to the loner with low self esteem who got hooked on the substance just so he could get laid, to the musician who got married on a whim and is totally fine if they break up because he’s got a solid network of people around him to prevent relapse….  As ridiculous as the motivations might seem on paper, there’s an honest commonality and truth that binds their story of simply wanting to connect, finding their place in the world.

Drugs aside, there was one thing that stuck when one of the recovering addicts contemplated his place in the community saying that perhaps one of the reasons why there’s a higher risk factor for mental health, addicction and antisocial behaviour could be because the LGBT community is still quite young.  It’s only really been visible a handful of decades if that and “we don’t know how to speak and engage with each other”.    On some level that makes sense and is a great idea that needs to be explored in the next festival.

SPIRAL – it was a mistake turning to a horror film for deep rooted messages of critical thinking.  This film however was engaging in creating suspense and mystery around the seemingly satanic cannabilism practices that targeted homosexual couples, only because they were the only unconventional and ideal targets available in this small community.  The only critique was the unexplained purpose of the group and what they were all about and why the creature had to feed on girls every ten years.  Started off great, got weird, and the ending was slightly dissatisfying.

CHANGING THE GAME – 

This is a topic that I find polarising.   On the one hand it’s important for inclusivity and tolerance in sport.   Personally, I think the essential skills you learn in a team sport equips you in how you handle yourself within a working team environment, setting the tone of the relationships you have with friends and family and general wellbeing which peer reviewed research has continued to prove.

On the other hand, speaking to many in the community, when it comes to trans athletes, there’s a very tricky line when it comes to clear biological differences when transgender athletes compete in their respective categories.  The question that keeps coming up is whether a transgender athlete has an advantage.   This is difficult to reconcile while championing an idea of inclusion and acceptance.  It’s a very very interesting concept that also needs to be explored more.


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