Not only has she got pink extensions, painted on eyebrows, glitter stockings and superman hotpants, Starlady’s a youth worker in some of Australia’s most remote and challenging places. Using an unusual set of tools this flamboyant hairdresser spends her time traveling thousands of kilometers across the central desert.
Like a real life Priscilla, Starlady takes us on her own Queen of the Desert journey to Areyonga, an indigenous community in Central Australia. Here she works with some of Australia’s most isolated teenagers using a little bit of bleach and a whole lot of colour in the hope to spread confidence and pride.
There is more than this just hairdressing happening in this makeshift salon as Starlady herself finds acceptance and friendship in what some might see as the most unlikely of places.
Length: 27 mins
Director: Alex Kelly
Producer: Josephine Wright
Looking for (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists):
ABC / Screen Australia “Opening Shot”
Made in association with: 360 Films
Bloody Hero Film Festival Phoenix, USA February 9th - Winner Best Short Documentary
Transcreen Amsterdam May 2013 - Tied Winner Audience Award
Translations Film Festival Seattle May 2013- Winner Audience Award
Rio Gay Film Festival Brazil July 2013 - Special Jury Mention
Down Under Berlin Film Festival - Audience Award
Brisbane Queer Film Festival - Best Short & Audience Award, Queer Aussie Shorts
Award of Excellence - Canadian International Film Festival
More Festival Screenings: See end.
Congratulations! Why did you decide to make this film?
I am passionate about the desert and changing the dominant views that people have about this part of the world. I wanted to show the beauty of the characters, friendships, youth culture and creativity that exist here.
Is Starlady, as opposed to Priscilla, the real queen of the desert?
Starlady is the undisputed and absolutely real Queen of the Desert – although she has recently departed to work in Melbourne for a short period. Her departure saw a colourful pageant take place at the Alice Springs airport, including “Biggest Scandal”, “Best Cat Walk” and “Hand bag throwing competition” to crown a new temporary Queen while she is away.
Starlady discusses public perceptions of Aboriginal communities as being dysfunctional. She then argues that her acceptance by these communities would suggest otherwise. Is Starlady saying that it’s mainstream Australian society that is dysfunctional?
I think that Starlady argues that the perception that mainstream Australia holds of life in remote Australia is lacking nuance and doesn’t recognize the vibrant and healthy, creative and dynamic aspects of life in the desert.
Were Starlady and the remote communities you filmed willing participants?
All of the subjects in the film consented to and supported the project. I visited Areyonga twice before the formal shoot and spoke with elders, traditional owners, the local council staff, youth workers, teachers and young people about the project before we did any filming. I also ensured the project adhered to strict ICIP protocols and shared a rough cut with key community leaders before locking picture and the film being broadcast publicly.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
The film created great buzz when it was screened on ABC2 in November 2012. We were thrilled that audiences responded to a positive depiction of remote Australia – comments on social media such as the following were very affirming;
What a great documentary! What Starlady said in it about the way the majority of Australia sees is true. It was great to get a positive story about remote communities, gender bending and fabulous hair!
Starlady is doing wonderful things for these communities. A vibrant, spectacular and caring individual - she is clearly making an impact! As Claire said above, it is wonderful to finally get some positive stories about remote communities on TV. There are so many great initiatives making a difference in remote communities, perhaps this will prompt ABC to run some more positivity?
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
If anything the feedback to the film reaffirmed my point of view – Australians are hungry for more nuanced representations of remote Australia and relieved to move past stereotypes.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on this platform?
Reach new audiences.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
What type of impact would you like this film to have?
I would like to see the film kick start conversations regarding difference, diversity, friendship and tolerance.
Lastly, what’s a key question that will help spark a debate about this issue and film?
When you hear the words “remote Aboriginal community” what springs to mind?
Cockatoo Island Film Festival Sydney 27th October 2012
Darwin Friday 2nd Nov Fist Full of Films Festival Darwin Entertainment Centre
Olive Pink Botanical Gardens Alice Springs Sunday 18th November 2012
Melbourne Premiere Bella Union, Trades Hall Tuesday 20th 6.30pm
ABC2 TV Premiere Sunday 25th November 9.30pm
ABC2 TV repeat Wednesday 28th November 10.30pm
ABC iview online 26th Nov - 10th Dec
Rainbow Serpent Festival Lexton, Vic Sunday 27th January
** Bloody Hero Film Festival Phoenix, USA February 9th - Winner Best Short Documentary
Bangalore Queer Film Festival, India February 22nd
Mardi Gras Film Festival Sydney February 24th
Melbourne Queer Film Festival March 18th
BFI London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival March 19th and 20th
Sarasota Film Festival, Sarasota USA April 7th and 10th
High Falls Film Festival, Rochester USA April 18-21st
Pink Apple Film Festival Zurich May 1-9th
Boston LGBT Film Festival May 2-12th
** Transcreen Amsterdam 9-10th May - Tied Winner Audience Award
** Translations Film Festival Seattle 10th May - Winner Audience Award
Tel Aviv Queer Film Festival
Two Spirits Film Festival Prince Albert Saskatchewan Canada June 2013
Durban Gay and Lesbian Film Festival June 16th & 28th
Frameline International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival San Fransisco June 29th
** Rio Gay Brazil July Special Jury Mention
Qantas Airways Inflight Entertainment July - December 2013
** Down Under Berlin Film Festival Germany 12-15 Sept - Audience Award
Fresno Reel Pride, Sept. 18-22 USA
MIX Copenhagen Film Festival 12th Oct
Reel Pride Winnipeg 18th Oct
Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival 13th Oct
Margaret Mead Film Festival, New York USA 19 Oct
Gender Bender Bologna Italy 27th Oct
Budapest Pride Film Festival Oct 28th
Indianapolis LGBT Film Festival Nov 10th
Oxford Queer Pride / Queer Rage October 21st
Spokane, USA Gay / Lesbian Film Festival Nov 1st
Indy GLBT Festival
SOAS London 4th December
Freedom Film Festival Malaysia
Freedom Film Festival Singapore 4th Januaryhttps://www.facebook.com/events/507796359308154/?previousaction=join&source=1
UCL London Diversity Month
21 Feb Sunshine Coast’s Pride Festivalhttp://www.sunshinecoastpride.com.au/
Feb TBC WPATH (World Professional Association for Transgender Health) Thailand http://www.wpath.org/
9 Feb FIFO Tahiti http://en.fifo-tahiti.com/2013/12/queen-of-the-desert/
March Seen and Heard Film Festival, Sydney Opening Night Film
***Canadian International Film Festival
***30 March Queer Aussie Shorts, Brisbane Queer Film Festival
Ânûû-rû Âboro Film Festival, New Caledonia
Aesthetica Short Film Festival, York UK
Where can I watch it?