Queer film won’t be getting any love at MQFF
A queer film with a six minute gay sex scene that was set to screen at this year’s Melbourne Queer Film Festival has been denied exemption from classification by the Australian Film Classification Board.
San Francisco based director Travis Mathews’ 71 minute feature film, I Want Your Love, was planned to be shown during the Melbourne Queer Film Festival (MQFF), but has been deemed inappropriate and failed to gain exemption from classification – a legal necessity in which all films are required to hold in the event of festival screening.
The film, which is believed to depict imagery of gay sex during a six minute montage, was also expected to be screened in Sydney during Queer Screen and at the Brisbane Queer Film Festival.
I Want Your Love is the story of Jesse, a gay man who prepares to move regionally to escape San Francisco’s rising living costs, but during his last weekend in the city, receives unexpected news from his father, which impacts the beginnings of his new life.
MQFF Director Lisa Daniel told MCV that the festival had not recieved written communication from the board on the film’s outcome, but has recieved verbal confirmation from board officers.
She said MQFF believed that the belief held by the board is that I Want Your Love’s narrative context is not strong enough to support the sexually explicit scene and as a result, has been identified as an 18+ X classification.
“I think it’s embarrassing for us as culturally forward thinking country to consider this film X-rated,” she said.
Within the last week, an online petition has been created, campaigning for the board’s decision to reverse the decision.
While Daniel believes there is a “very slim chance” of a reversal, she encouraged those interested in viewing the film to consider support of the petition.
“I don’t see any problem in us signing a petition and jumping on board and giving our opinion about adults being denied to make decisions as to what they want to see in an adult context,” she said.
“If we don’t say anything now, we won’t see any change in classification in the future.”
When asked whether the board’s decision may have been as a result of homophobic attitudes, Daniel dispelled any possibilities.
“I don’t think so, [there have been] other films that have straight themes or narratives and have also been banned in the past,” she explained.
“I don’t see it as homophobic.”
Films that are screened during private film festivals are not required to attain regular classification codes, although are required to gain exemptions in the way of festival organisers providing written synopses detailing the film’s content.
However, the classification board can request to review individual films.
The Australian Classifications Board’s Director, Lesley O’Brien told MCV in a statement that I Want Your Love was not awarded an exemption because it believed it would be inconsistent with its Film Festival Guidelines.
“In this case, the film contains detailed and prolonged scenes of actual explicit sexual activity, such that it is likely to fall within the parameters of the X 18+ category if it were classified.”
Within the statement, O’ Brien also said that the film could still be submitted for commercial classification.
Mathews, who found critical acclaim for his gay sex documentary series In Their Room, is no stranger to controversy, having failed to previously gain exemption for one of the documentary’s episodes, of which then, was subsequently banned from being shown at screening at last year’s Mardi Gras Film Festival.
The film, which was originally shot in a short film medium, has already been screened at major queer festival across Europe, America as well as parts of Asia and the Middle East.
It is the first time I Want Your Love has been banned.