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Scottish Queer International Film Festival

Scottish Queer International Film Festival

Wednesday, 02 October 2019 until Sunday, 06 October 2019

SQIFF (Scottish Queer International Film Festival) was formed with the aim of adding to the exciting and growing amount of queer film stuff happening around Scotland. Our goal is to get people watching, talking about, and making more queer films. We want to bring movies that people might not otherwise get a chance to see to Scotland and to create inspiring and informative events alongside challenging inequality and barriers to accessibility in the arts.


2019 films...

SQIFF Shorts: Intimacies

(76m), Various directors, N/C 12+, English, Persian, French, Spanish, and Portuguese audio and ASL with English captions/subtitles

Touch, connection, sensuality, bonding. Sharing of solidarity, friendship, grief, and (com)passion. This selection of short films from the UK, US, Iran, Brazil, and the Amazon trace intimacies between friends, family, communities, and lovers. The revolutionary potential of femme for femme relationships. Upholding trans and immigrant identities and memory across generations. Busting childhood isolation and fear of being queer. Leaving your life behind due to youthful yearning. A slow-paced and tactile assortment of stories embracing many different faces and places.

Respecting & Understanding Differences

(75m), Nicole O’Reilly, N/C 12+, English audio with English captions/subtitles

Commissioned by Norwich-based Mancroft Advice Project and created by Scottish filmmaker Nicole O’Reilly, Norfolk Trans Youth: Respecting & Understanding Differences gives a voice to young trans people. Incorporating interviews with trans youth in Norfolk, O’Reilly’s debut feature gives its participants space to explain transness in their own words. Issues of discrimination, visibility, and media representation are discussed using an eclectic pallet of stylistic techniques, finding a new way to use the documentary format to reflect trans experiences. Merging factual documentary with experimental form, this is a visually inventive film centring a group often marginalised in conversations about their personhood.

where did we land + Fi Dem I & II

(35m), Various directors, N/C 12+, English and Patois audio with English captions/subtitles

London-based curator and artist Rabz Lansiquot screens their new moving image essay where did we land, an ongoing experiment interrogating the effect of images of anti-black violence produced and reproduced in film and media, and parts 1 and 2 of artist Zinzi Minott’s Fi Dem Series, a continued investigation into Blackness and Diaspora made annually on the anniversary of the Empire Windrush docking in the UK on June 22nd 1948.

SQIFF 2019 Opening Night Shorts

(65m), Various directors, N/C 12+, English audio with English subtitles/captions

We launch the Festival with a stellar lineup of documentary shorts focused on LGBTQIA+ community and activism. Adam and the Alphas depicts the camaraderie of gay rugby team, the Glasgow Alphas. Bodies Like Oceans follows self-described queer fat freak and photographer, Shoog McDaniel. I AM! We are Here! presents portraits of Queer, Trans* and Gender Non Conforming People of Colour in the Bronx, whilst Unspoken sees queer and trans Asian Americans writing emotional letters to their families. We Are Here follows members of the Manchester House of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, and Button OUT! is an animated homage to Canadian filmmaker Kathleen Mullen’s history of protest through her massive button collection.

SQIFF Shorts: Luv Sucks

(74m), Various directors, N/C 15+, Arabic, English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Tswana audio and BSL with English subtitles/captions

Romantic relationships can be tough. SQIFF offers up an alternative to punching walls and texting your ex when pished with these shorts from the heart - as in stomping all over it and dumping it in the trash. A bisexual trio have a bust up in a toilet. A boy in a bath pines over his unavailable roommate. A woman has a near-but-not-quite romantic encounter with a fellow deafie. The vast power of the cosmos can’t prevent a bickering lesbian couple from breaking up. A sex worker has his hopes dashed by the man he loves. And in 2033 Botswana, a man loses his lover to dystopian despair.

Queen of Lapa

(74m), Carolina Monnerat, Theodore Collatos, Brazil, 2019, N/C 15+, Portuguese audio with English subtitles/captions

Larger-than-life actress, cabaret performer, activist, and sex worker, Luana Muniz - arguably one of Brazil’s most recognisable trans personalities - shapes a new reality for a generation of trans sex workers in her hostel by providing a safe working environment in the dangerous neighbourhood of Lapa in Rio de Janeiro. Queen of Lapa explores day-to-day lives, quests for love, and housemate rivalries in a turbulent political climate under matriarch Muniz’s watchful and guiding eye. 

Screening with short Fernanda’s Spring (20m), in which a trans woman negotiates discrimination in trying to find work.

SQIFF Shorts: Come Out Fighting

(69m), Various directors, N/C 15+, English and Portuguese audio with English subtitles/captions

Pushed into corners through marginalisation and oppression, the characters in these short films come out fighting for their bodily autonomy, rights, and liberation. YaliniDream performs a poem of refugee/migrant love for self and the world. Artist Liberty Antonia Sadler uses poetry to celebrate larger bodies in a fatphobic society. In Ponyboi, an intersex runaway and sex worker finds self-redemption and love. The Wind on your Skin sees a young Namibian woman fighting back after her girlfriend is murdered for being lesbian. Eyes explores moving through the world as a gender non-conforming person choosing between being visible versus being safe. And BLACKN3SS dives into the journey of black queer youth in São Paulo.

Birds of the Borderlands

(93m), Jordan Bryon, Australia, 2018, N/C 15+, English and Arabic audio with English subtitles/captions

Queer Arab stories are powerfully illuminated in genderqueer Australian filmmaker Jordan Bryon’s compelling piece of guerrilla filmmaking. Jordanian teenager Hiba is secretly transitioning, fearful of being killed by her Bedouin tribe; gay Iraqi refugee Youssef has fled Baghdad and is living in limbo in Amman; lesbian feminist Rasha hides her sexuality and relationship with Bryon from her family while striving for LGBTIQ visibility; and Khalaf, a gay Imam turned activist, lives a solitary life in Beirut. There is tension alongside touching, reflective moments as Bryon becomes entangled in their struggles, blurring the lines between lover, friend, filmmaker, and activist.

Screening with No Man (4m) about Kenneth Macharia, who is under threat of deportation from the UK to Kenya, where he faces persecution.

Man Made

(109m), T Cooper, N/C 15+, English audio with English subtitles/captions

Trans FitCon is an all-transgender bodybuilding competition held in Atlanta, USA. Man Made follows 4 trans men stepping on the stage to compete. Rese is a young father struggling with periods of homelessness; Dominic seeks out his family of origin, confronting an alternate history for himself; Kennie admits to himself and his loved ones who he is for the first time in his life; and Mason, a loving husband who struggles with mental illness, works daily to be the man he’s always wanted to be. We follow their emotional and physical journeys as they navigate their lives with the very real risks inherent in the current social and political climate. For the men of Man Made, it’s not about winning - it’s about being seen.

Black History Month: Fabulous + Father Figure

(71m), Audrey Jean-Baptiste/Bibi Fadlalla, France/Netherlands, 2019, N/C 15+, Dutch, English, and French audio with English subtitles/captions, FREE

In partnership with Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights (CRER) for Black History Month, we look at the thriving ballroom culture of contemporary Europe. In Fabulous (2019), international legend Lasseindra Ninja returns to her home of Guyana to introduce voguing to its LGBTQ community. Father Figure follows Guilliano, founding father of The Kiki House of Angels, and his friends as they share experiences of homophobia and racism in the Netherlands.

But I’m a Cheerleader

(89m), Jamie Babbit, USA (1999), 15, English audio with English subtitles/captions

As part of our strand on queerness and religion, You Gotta Have Faith, we bring you classic queer rom-com But I’m a Cheerleader on the 20th anniversary of its release. Natasha Lyonne - of Orange is the New Black and Russian Doll fame - stars as Megan Bloomsfield, a high school cheerleader whose strait-laced friends and family suspect is a lesbian. To ‘cure’ her of her lesbianism, Megan is sent to a Christian conversion therapy camp, where she defies the rules, meets a series of kooky queer characters, embraces her sexual orientation, and falls in love. Other notable cast members include Clea DuVall, Michelle Williams, and RuPaul.

Brief Story from the Green Planet

(75m), Santiago Loza, Argentina, Germany, Brazil, Spain, 2019, N/C 12+, Spanish audio with English subtitles/captions

Three childhood friends in Buenos Aires are stuck in a rut. Gutsy trans performer Tania is disillusioned with her profession, club kid Pedro can only connect via dancing, and depressed waitress Daniela has given up on finding love. Their lives are turned upside down when Tania’s grandmother dies, leaving behind a secret. She lived with an extra-terrestrial companion and it is now Tania’s duty to return the creature to its home. The three set out across the countryside of Argentina on a journey that will test their faith in themselves and one another. Told through a mixture of magic and sobering realism, this poetic fable is an examination of selfhood, friendship, and what it means to be ‘other.’

Kattumaram

(73m), Swarnavel Eswaran, India, 2018, N/C 12+, Tamil audio with English subtitles/captions

Kattumaram depicts the Tsunami-affected lives of middle-aged Singaram and his orphaned niece Anandhi and nephew Mani. Singaram works hard as a fisherman to provide for his family and tries to arrange a groom for his niece, who rejects all proposed alliances. Anandhi instead falls for Kavita, a visiting photographer teaching alongside her at the local school. As patriarchal Singaram comes to terms with his niece’s sexuality, he is ostracised by his community because of her transgression. Dealing with his deflated ego, he bonds with the village barber and trans woman, Alankaram. Kattumaram shows the predicament of people in a conservative society which offers warmth so long as its traditions are adhered to but turns cold and violent when they are broken.

Mental Health Shorts

(57m), Various directors, N/C 15+, English and Chinese audio with English subtitles/captions

We know that mental health issues disproportionately affect LGBTQIA+ individuals and communities, who often experience difficulties in accessing support. To create space for discussion and representation of these topics, we’ve curated a collection of insightful and powerful shorts in partnership with See Me Proud. Topics covered include depression, anxiety, loneliness, irrational thoughts, living with bipolar disorder, medication, and queerphobia encountered whilst obtaining treatment. The films incorporate a diversity of identities and styles, including animation, experimental, documentary, and sci-fi.

SQIFF Shorts: Queer Spaces

(72m), Various directors, N/C 12+, English, French, and Hindi audio with English subtitles/captions

How does queer visibility transform physical and symbolic space? What roles do specific spaces have in altering the way that we navigate and represent ourselves in public? Why are alternatives to heteronormative space important for our communities? In this collection of shorts, we explore what ‘home’ and ‘public space’ means to the LGBTQIA+ communities of Paris; join a young trans man as he navigates gendered space on the Delhi metro; and follow the campaign to save one of London’s most iconic queer spaces, the Joiner’s Arms.

What Brings You On Here?

(56m), Various directors, N/C 15+, English audio with English subtitles/captions

Filmmaker and poet Ross Wilcock presents films focusing on the experiences of gay men with online dating. A history of gay sex and cruising from the 70s to the internet takeover of today. Dissatisfaction with emotionless encounters and the yearning for something more. Meeting up with men online as a way of expressing your queerness when you’re not out. The sometimes all-consuming obsession of people with their phones. Grindr, swiping left, hooking up, insecurities, getting tested, and a bit of hot sex are all contained in this challenging selection.

Moroni for President

(82m), Saila Huusko, Jasper Rischen, USA, 2018, N/C 15+, English and Navajo audio with English subtitles/captions

The Navajo Nation is the largest Native American reservation in the United States. Every four years, the Navajo tribe elects its president, whom is considered to be the most powerful Native American in the country. In the midst of a frenzied electoral campaign, Moroni for President follows Moroni Benally, an underdog with radical ideas who is angry about lack of social progress in the reservation he grew up in. As the election unfolds, the film delves into Moroni’s layered identity as a Mormon and gay Navajo man, along the way expanding to include LGBTQ+ characters campaigning for other candidates.

From Zero to I Love You

(102m), Doug Spearman, USA, 2019, N/C 15+, English audio with English subtitles/captions

This captivating relationship comedy begins when Peter bumps into handsome but married Jack in a gay bar. They begin a passionate affair and Peter woes the fact he always seems to end up with married men, a scenario bringing its own special set of tensions. Gossip, heartbreak, and coincidence play their part and eventually Peter is forced to admit that he needs something to change in order to maintain self-respect. He attempts to face head on the challenges of finding and keeping love in the big city that is Philadelphia. An emotionally engaging drama with a sophisticated and original approach to bisexuality and the turbulence of relationships.

Sexxxy Beasts and Wheelchairs

(58m), Various directors, N/C 18+, English audio with English subtitles/captions

How we are (un)represented as Deaf and Disabled people has a huge impact on our lives. Exploring such representation, we take a look at queer porn made by and about Deaf and Disabled queer people. With work by DIY queer filmmaker and activist, Loree Erickson, and self-described “bad ass, fat ass, Jew, dyke amputee,” Nomy Lamm. Also featuring films by Morty Diamond, Nikki Silver, and Pandora Blake with Deaf and Disabled performers taking control of their own narratives. Join us for everyday ableism crossed with seductive images of disability; pervy, polyamorous BDSM; sexy nurse roleplay; even sexxxier wheelchairs; and fat-bodied, amputee eroticism.

A Girl’s Band

(83m), Marilina Giménez, Argentina, 2018, N/C 12+, Spanish, Italian, and English audio with English subtitles/captions

From 80s punk to modern day synth pop, rocking Argentinian queer women artists are chronicled in A Girl’s Band by bassist turned filmmaker, Marilina Giménez. Her band YiLet broke up long ago but Giménez still has access to dozens of musicians who are ready to speak their truths about partying on the road, sexual harassment, and the recognised truth that any men in ‘girl bands’ ruin the whole vibe. Veteran bands like The She-Devils get the mosh pits going, while newcomers Chocolate Remix and Miss Bolivia reinvent reggaeton and pop. These women also double as badass activists fighting for safe and legal abortions whilst being determined to make an indelible mark on the stomping girl-led music scene in Argentina.

SQIFF Shorts: Queer Islam with Hidayah

(74m), Various directors, N/C 12+, English and Arabic audio with English subtitles/captions

A series of shorts made over several decades following queer Muslim characters as they navigate familial relationships, romantic love, and their careers. A budding filmmaker collaborates with his conservative Muslim father on a film about an iconic Muslim actor. The love between a disabled Muslim father and his queer son is tested when love is pitted against religion. Two brothers stand by each other in the face of adversity. An Arab American man learns how to love again post-heartbreak. And a rising martial arts star tries to hides her identity from her family and her small American town when under the spotlight.

Transfinite

(70m), Neelu Bhuman, USA, UK, India, 2019, N/C 15+, English, Navajo, Swahili, Spanish, Asura (in Japanese), and Tagalog audio with English subtitles/captions

Transfinite is a sci-fi omnibus feature film by Neelu Bhuman composed of seven standalone short stories where supernatural trans and queer people from various cultures use their powers to protect, love, teach, fight, and thrive. Most of us have been in situations where we feel completely powerless and deeply frustrated with the unfairness of it all. Sometimes we have lost control of life and sometimes we find a way to use our rage, resentment, and frustrations to grow a beautiful garden. In Transfinite, the protagonists, like smooth warriors, choose to find that inner power and use it to transform undesirable situations into desirable ones in a snap.

Screening with Tomgirl (10m), in which a young Filipino boy in Australia gets an enchanting crash-course in his homeland culture.

SQIFF Shorts: Queer Scotland

(86m), Various directors, N/C 15+, English audio and BSL with English subtitles/captions

We present a round-up of excellent new queer filmmaking produced within Scotland. We welcome the return of filmmakers who’ve screened at SQIFF before including Michael Lee Richardson, Wei Zhang, Siri Rødnes, Eleanor Capaldi, and Natasha Lall, and are excited by a host of new names bringing impressive work packed with stylistic invention and stimulating ideas. Gender roles in ballet, a queer reimagining of a working men’s club, sending naked pics via dating apps, Chinese mythology and human binaries, trans masculinity, BSL poetry, LGBT people in the asylum system, and more are explored in our Queer Scotland programme.

A Dog Barking at the Moon

(107m), Zi Xiang, China, Spain, 2019, N/C 15+, Mandarin and English audio with English subtitles/captions

In director Zi Xiang’s exceptional feature debut - a Teddy Jury award-winner at the Berlin Film Festival - decades of open secrets and resentment create chaos within a Chinese family. When she brings her white western boyfriend for a visit to China, pregnant Huang Xiaoyu gets caught up in her parent’s ongoing feud. Her father’s gay affairs and her worn-out mother’s seduction by a predatory cult bring matters to a crescendo as the narrative jumps cleverly between past and present. Zi Xiang expertly analyses repression which is woven into society and causes unhappiness to be passed down across generations.

Cassandro, the Exotico!

(70m), Marie Losier, France, 2018, N/C 15+, English and Spanish audio with English subtitles/captions

Cassandro is a well-known lucha libre wrestler known for his extravagant gayness and equally spectacular wrestling moves. Shot on 16mm over the course of 5 years, Marie Losier’s film follows a champion coming to terms with his increasingly ailing body. We bear witness to Cassandro’s scars, both mental and physical, his pain contrasting with his flamboyant masks and aerial manoeuvres in the ring. The Mexican legend struggles to deal with past addiction and abuse, which continue to haunt him. But his joy and strength in creating space for his queer self within conservative cultural traditions make for a fascinating and invigorating watch.

Before Stonewall

(88m), Greta Schiller, USA, 1984, 12, English audio with English subtitles/captions

On June 27 1969, police raided The Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York. In a spontaneous show of support and frustration, the city’s queer community rioted for three nights, an event often considered the birth of the modern LGBT Rights Movement. Revealing and often humorous, Before Stonewall exposes the fascinating decade-by-decade history of homosexuality in America, from 1920s Harlem through to World War II and the witch hunt trials of the McCarthy era. Essential viewing for all those who have celebrated their sexuality, or have been persecuted because of it.

SQIFF Shorts: Some Like it Rough

(82m), Various directors, N/C 18+, English, French, Hebrew, and German audio with English subtitles/captions

We delve into the varied practices of BDSM and societal attitudes towards this age-old erotic preference, which continues to be subject to stigmatisation and censorship. In Lasting Marks, one of sixteen gay men put on trial for taking part in consensual sadomasochism in late 80s England narrates his experience. Berlin-based conscious BDSM practitioner, Caritia, explains her spiritual journey through eroticism and life in Rituals + Worship. In French dramedy, Dressed for Pleasure, a young disabled woman seeks a more exhilarating sexual satisfaction. Mockumentary No Democracy Here sees a lefty dominatrix employed by right-wing Israeli men to force them into recanting their politics. The programme concludes with super hot non-binary, lesbian action with a punk boidyke given the rough-tender treatment in Driven.

Evil Come, Evil Go

(73m), Dir. Walt Davis, 1972, N/C 18+, English audio with English subtitles/captions

A rare screening of Walt Davis’ lesbian sexploitation opus Evil Come, Evil Go. Sister Sarah Jane (Cleo O’Hara) is hellbent on ridding the world of evil, sex-obsessed men. Taking to the streets of Los Angeles, she quickly befriends a gullible young woman and the two embark on a mad, sex-filled killing spree.

Beauty and the Beast Singalong

(129m), Bill Condon, USA, 2017, PG, English audio with English subtitles/captions/lyrics

Sing along with Emmas Watson and Thompson and Ewan McGregor in this romantic fairytale with a queer twist. Belle, a bright, beautiful, and independent young woman, is taken prisoner by a beast in its castle. Despite her fears, she befriends the castle’s enchanted staff and learns to look beyond the beast’s exterior, allowing her to recognise the kind heart and soul of the true prince that hides on the inside. Come along and celebrate this “tale as old as time” - featuring Disney’s first openly gay character, Josh Gad as Le Fou.

SQIFF Shorts: You Gotta Have Faith

(74m), Various directors, N/C 12+, English, Hebrew, and Nepali audio with English subtitles/captions

Short films exploring what it means to have faith as a queer person today. A seemingly pious Hasidic man living a secret double life faces a challenge when his two worlds collide. A chaplain from Cheshire sets up a helpline for gay farmers and is inundated with calls. LGBTQIA+ people in Nepal use a Hindu festival as a medium to appear in public. Plus more compelling stories in this captivating selection.

Lemebel

(96m), Joanna Reposi Garibaldi, Chile, Colombia, 2019, N/C 15+, Spanish audio with English subtitles/captions

Pedro Lemebel’s sharp, poetic texts and provocative performances make him one of South America’s most significant artists. Under Pinochet’s dictatorship in Chile, Lemebel expressed things most wouldn’t dare. For the country’s left-wing opposition, his queerness made him an awkward figure as he exposed their machismo and homophobia. Lemebel embodied an uncomfortable gay identity and fiercely criticised the wish of some queer people to assimilate. Lemebel uses slides and video clips to shape an essay-like memento, enhanced with intimate interviews, to portray a tireless fighter who continued to speak out until the end of his life.

Tomboy

(82m), Celine Sciamma, France, 2011, U, French audio with English subtitles/captions

French queer filmmaker Celine Sciamma’s naturalistic drama about childhood gender identity is touching, painful, and humorous all at once. Ten-year-old Laure has moved with her family to a new neighbourhood. The local kids take her for a boy and instead of correcting them, Laure introduces herself as Mikael and starts living a double life, with her parents unaware of her secret and her young sister persuaded to play along.

No Box for Me. An Intersex Story

(58m), Floriane Devigne, France, Switzerland, 2018, N/C 12+, French audio with English subtitles/captions

A heartfelt, poetic documentary focusing on four young adults who - like an estimated 0.5 to 1.7 percent of people - were born with variations in their sex characteristics making it difficult for Western medicine to impose classifications on them. The intersex people in No Box for Me seek to reclaim their bodies and explore their identities. They reveal the error in a binary understanding of gender and highlight the physical and psychological harm unnecessary medical treatments impose on children.

Screening with A Normal Girl (14m) about intersex activist and educator, Pidgeon Pagonis.

Vision Portraits

(78m), Rodney Evans, USA, Germany, Canada, 2019, N/C 12+, English audio with English subtitles/captions

Vision Portraits is a vivid exploration by filmmaker Rodney Evans illuminating the stories of four visually impaired artists - photographer John Dugdale, dancer Kayla Hamilton, writer Ryan Knighton, and the filmmaker himself. Evans contrasts their journeys with his own personal and professional one as a filmmaker gradually losing his vision. An important film for anyone interested in disability aesthetics, demonstrating how blindness and visual impairment bring about distinct artistic viewpoints.

Screening with Fashion in the Dark I and II (8m) exploring fashion and identity with people who are visually impaired or blind.

Dirty Computer: An Emotion Picture by Janelle Monae

(49m), Various directors, N/C 12+, English audio with English subtitles/captions

As part of their season “The Art of the Black Visual Album” We Are Parable partner with SQIFF to present a special screening of Janelle Monae’s Dirty Computer visual album. Set in a dystopian nightmare, Jane 57821 (Monae) is subjected to having her memories removed or “cleaned,” ones that mainly involve her relationship with Zen (Tessa Thompson). As the removal of her thoughts and feelings occurs, we’re taken on a journey to find out who Jane really is, her emotions displayed as songs from Dirty Computer.

SQIFF Shorts: Gross Out

(59m), Various directors, N/C 18+, English and Spanish audio with English subtitles/captions

With supposed tolerance and acceptance of LGBT people in western public life comes enforced sanitisation and respectability. Straight society pats itself on the back for allowing (some of) us to get married and feature in shiny corporate advertising but is still repelled by our bodies and sex lives. To counter the continued suppression of fleshly and carnal appetites and practices, we went on a hunt for the grossest, most yucky films we could find. Featuring experimental musing on why we find our bodies disgusting and scary; some gay sex-tinged body horror; literal shit in a variety of forms; and a performance involving an empty stomach and a large jar of honey. Please note this programme requires resilience for what some would consider stomach-churning and gruesome imagery.