Film Event: Queers at the Movies

In association with Radical Film Network Festival 2016

The SQIFF ‘Queers at the Movies’ discussion night held at the CCA opened up many conversations about queer film-making, queer film exhibition and being a queer audience member. The discussion was open to all, and the audience included SQIFF organisers, filmmakers and people from off the street. This offered multiple perspectives and ideas on many different issues.

The night was split into two sections: What the current issues facing queer films are, and what can be done to solve them? A prominent debate throughout the night was the use of “queer” over terms like LGBT. For some, queer held many radical connotations that may feel exclusionary to recently out or less politically active members of the LGBTQ+ community. This sparked a debate to the value of using “queer” within the film festival of SQIFF and similar film festivals.

Whereas queer is a useful umbrella term that adds a political dimension that these kind of film festivals are trying to promote, its status as a reclaimed slur does cause disputes over how accessible and inclusive it can really be. Furthermore, with its radical connotations, many feel that films produced and distributed under the queer umbrella may not be accessible to the average mainstream LGBTQ+ individual. Of course, queer films are often trying to rebel against the mainstream gay-white-cis male focused film industry, instead creating and promoting films that focus on marginalised or ignored aspects of the LGBTQ+ community.

Especially as mainstream LGBTQ+ fail in their representation of queer issues, it was discussed that education was paramount to ensure conversations around LGBTQ+ issues could be productive and improve mainstream films. By holding problematic films accountable and promoting high-quality radical queer films by queer filmmakers, we can further create inclusive, radical film networks.

The night was successful in opening up these difficult conversations, often being unable to create easy answers in how to balance accessibility and education with radicalism and inclusiveness. These ideas can work together, but only by offering a range of queer films and ensuring that film festivals like SQIFF promote them.

[Jo Reid]

Image – Radical Film Network Scotland

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