Gail Hewison
Gail Hewison

Queer Screen is the passionate, volunteer-led, non-profit organisation that puts on the Mardi Gras Film Festival (Feb) and Queer Screen Film Fest (Sep) each year.

This year, the team have been looking at new ways to stay connected to the community, while continuing to showcase diverse LGBTIQ+ stories, both on-screen and online.

Queer Screen’s work is driven at every level by hundreds of dedicated volunteers who make its festivals tick: from the box office staff and ushers in pink, to the digital marketing team and film pre-screening team and the board all do what they do for the love of queer film.

Queer Screen recruits volunteers all year round. During National Volunteer Week, its staff are starting a new recruitment drive, and are particularly keen to hear from people with experience in digital marketing, writing web content and social media.

If you think you’ve got the skills to be part of the team, don’t be shy! Sign up on the Queer Screen website and let the team know why you’d be perfect to volunteer!

Here is a story about one of Queer’s Screens many volunteers.

Gail Hewison’s story

Several years ago while enjoying my new found retirement from The Feminist Bookshop, a dream job fell into my lap, when Lisa Rose (Festival Director of Queer Screen) asked me to join her team of PreScreener Volunteers.

As a film lover and LGBTIQ activist, this was an irresistible offer!

I have always loved film, going back to childhood, Saturday arvo matinees, with cartoons, a serial, and a Hollywood musical…to attending one of the very first Sydney Film Festivals at Sydney Uni in the 60s in a drafty and cold tin shed!

When I first came out as a lesbian in the 70s, a gay or lesbian character in a film or on TV was a rarity, and the thought of a whole film festival for us queers was undreamed of. I fondly remember the huge event for lesbians when Desert Hearts was shown at a cinema in Sydney. For one night only !!

I have been a Member of Queer Screen from its beginning, and in the early years of our festival, I would take a week off work and maybe attend 25 or more films, just as many as I could cram in! And it has been a joy to see the growth of the organisation, and the pleasure of two full festivals each year.

Being a PreScreener means I am expected and required to watch as many films…features, documentaries, shorts, as I can, answer some questions, and give a brief critique. This helps Lisa and her selection committee to choose the films that will be programmed and form a cohesive festival. There are a whole bunch of us doing this job, and we enjoy being a support team for the festival, we chat about films and have agreements and disagreements in our own Facebook group. And yes we have to watch some duds as well as some good ones. At times we scream!! In spite of our varying tastes, we all love finding good films amongst the hundreds we view!

As an activist (arrested at first Mardi Gras), visibility and coming out has always been important to me. I see LGBTI and queer films as vital in our coming out and our visibility…both for ourselves and for the larger community. I live by You Can’t Be What You Can’t See. So hooray for Queer Screen and queer films and filmmakers!

I love seeing films showing the situation of queers in overseas countries, as I am passionate about helping them from our very privileged situation here in Oz. Last year a top film was set in the country of Georgia and showed the life of a gay dancer wanting to escape oppression, and coming up next I have seen a brilliant documentary about queer lives in Chechnya, a very important film for us to see.

What amazes me now is the quantity and quality of films we view each year, both from Australia and overseas, and that we can reject the bad ones, and programme the good ones. Thanks Lisa and Queer Screen for my dream job! I love being a Queer Screen Volunteer!

Learn more about volunteering with Queer Screen and sign up at www.queerscreen.org.au