Since the festivals’ first outing in the year 2000, at Brisbane Powerhouse, more than 60,000 film-lovers have immersed themselves in the BQFF experience.
The Brisbane Powerhouse was reopened in 2000, an election year for the Brisbane City Council, by then Lord Mayor, Councillor Jim Soorley. Built in a decommissioned power station, the “Centre for the Arts” was one of the culminations of Soorley’s $4 billion Urban Renewal program. It was also a major addition to the Brisbane arts scene. It is of particular interest then, that one of the highest profile events of the Brisbane Powerhouse’s inaugural program was the first screening of the Brisbane Queer Film and Video Weekend. Kelly McWilliam, “We’re Here all Week: Public Formation and the Brisbane Queer Film Festival.” Queensland Review 14.2 (2007).
Now presented at New Farm Cinemas, which, since its reopening in 2014 has quickly established itself as Brisbane’s premiere location for all things cinema, from festivals, independent, cult and non-mainstream work to blockbuster cinema. There is no better place to create this connection for the Brisbane queer community than New Farm Cinemas who has a special history to queer culture with the original site, the heritage listed Village Twin, cited as a gay beat in 70s/80s Brisbane.
Perched on the corner of Brunswick and Barker Streets in New Farm, the beautiful old building of New Farm Cinemas has had quite an interesting century. Opening as Merthyr Picture Palace in 1921, changing names to Merthyr Astor Theatre in 1951 and then reopening as the Village Twin in 1970, the historic venue was closed down in 2002 and has sat dormant for more than a decade. Fortunately, owners of the Yatala Drive-In and passionate film buffs, brothers Peter and Stephen Sourris, bought the building in early 2013 and carried out extensive renovations to resurrect the local landmark. The Queensland Heritage Register-listed building has stayed true to its history but benefitted from the addition of state-of-the-art technology. The boutique cinema reopened at the end of 2014.
With the festival now in its 22nd year and screening at New Farm Cinemas, BQFF continues to be Queensland’s only regular public film festival dedicated solely to Queer films.
The festival is run by volunteers from the community, and we rely on sponsorship and grant funding support to produce the festival.
In 22 years we’ve come so far as many communities holding space for ourselves. It’s wonderful to see the rest of society slowly catching up - with more mainstream ways for us to see ourselves represented. With so much more to be done, we are humbled to still be here and value the past two decades of holding space that Brisbane Queer Film Festival has offered to the Brisbane queer community and hope you continue to see value in our visibility. We are here for the tender moments of reflection and representation.