The 23rd Mardi Gras Film Festival has added 20 additional screenings, 4 new venues and an increased cash prize.

Running from February 18 – March 3, the festival will feature 75 screenings.

Screenings will take place at Event Cinemas, George Street as well as new-to-festival venues: the Hayden Orpheum Cremorne, the Golden Age Cinema and Bar in Surry Hills and The Harbour.

From mid-March to early April, the Festival will travel to the Riverside Theatre in Parramatta and, for the first time, the Carrington Hotel in the Blue Mountains.

“Every year we aim to be bigger and better than before and this year we have nailed it,” said Festival Director Paul Struthers. “We have more diversified content including a lot more lesbian films, more transgender films, more documentaries, more international guests, more masterclasses and more screenings at more venues including two free community screenings. There is absolutely something for everyone in this year’s line-up and we are really excited to launch the full program”.

The 2016 line-up includes: 

Chemsex, a documentary delving into the lives of modern gay men in the UK who engage in weekend-long, drug fueled orgies, a.k.a ‘chemsex’. 

Departure, a trip to the French countryside where Elliot, a boy on holiday with his mum, is awakened to previously unknown desires. Filmmaker Steggall will be at the Festival and will participate in a Q&A after the screening.

The Girl King tells the story of the real life Queen Kristina of Sweden, the 17th century monarch who fought the conservative forces of her court to modernize Sweden and fell for her lady-in-waiting. This film won the Best Actress award at the Montréal World Film Festival.

Maggie Smith stars in The Lady in the Van, a quirky story about an elderly homeless woman who moves her battered van into a man's driveway and refuses to leave. 

2013 My Queer Perspective winner Grant Scicluna returns with Downriver, an Australian debut feature that premiered at MIFF. The cast and crew will participate in a Q&A after the screening. 

Girls Lost is an emotionally raw Swedish urban fantasy film where three teenage girls are given the bodies of cisgender men for the night. 

Ecco Homo is an Australian documentary on Troy Davies, who charmed his way through a lifetime of fame, art, secrets, HIV, abuse and gender fluidity.

Bare, starring Glee's Dianna Agron, follows country girl Sarah as she's drawn into a world of drugs, stripping, spirituality and sex in Nevada.

The Festival will also present the world premiere of the fourth season of hit online drama Starting From…Now!,  followed by a Q&A with the cast and crew. Following the complicated lives of four inner-city Sydney lesbians, the drama has amassed 20 million views over its first three seasons.

My Queer Career, Australia’s largest LGBTIQ film prize has, now been increased to $14,000 in cash and kind, as well as automatic nomination to the Iris Prize competition. 

Queer Screen will host four free events for local filmmakers. These include a production masterclass with US-based Nneka Onuorah, director of The Same Difference; a masterclass in directing actors from Coming In director Marco Kreuzpaintner and actor Kostja Ullmann; developing a strategy for the film festival circuit with Downriver's Grant Scicluna; and an industry forum on LGBTIQ cinema.

Two free community screenings will also be shown.  What's Between Us looks at the aftermath of a husband with kids coming out as gay, while The Year We Thought About Love is a documentary following the personal lives of members of True Colours, a Boston based LGBTIQ youth troupe.

The shorts section has been extended this year with the addition of the first-ever Asia Pacific Queer Film Festival Alliance Shorts – a selection of the best shorts from a new alliance of 11 Asian queer film festivals.

There will also be a screening of Mixed Shorts, featuring a collection of the year’s best lesbian, gay and transgender films; a special late-night collection of international Gay Shorts; and a collection of Lesbian Shorts. 

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