Scottish Queer International Film Festival 2017

Here’s a report about 2017 SQIFF, held in Glasgow, and how much I loved it. Helen Wright and the whole team is to be congratulated for shepherding all the films, personalities, needs, desires and logistics of organizing such a huge event for so many. The CCA has good access for wheelchair users, there was BSL interpretation at Q & As, the films were subtitled and captioned, Thank You Marc David and crew! And of course, another of Faggotgirl’s passions, gender neutral, accessible toilets!
The festival took place September 23rd to October 1st. On the 23rd, I would have loved to attend the workshop for working class LGBT people in film and TV, led by Dr. Leanne Dawson and Laura Wylie, I finally got to meet those two powerhouse women. SQIFF made a special effort to make sure working class and bisexual experiences were well represented and I think they succeeded magnificently.

Krissy Mahan: Telling Working Class Stories (from SQIFF blog)

First, I arrived in Glasgow on the weekend before it started, which meant my lovely hosts endured me for 8 nights! Thank you, Cloudberry and Nosheen of Digital Desperados, who present GLITCH. By sheer luck saw that there was special event being held at the Glasgow Women’s Library to commemorate its 25 year existence. Attending this was an important way to start my trip, because it was around 25 years ago that I started thinking and acting as a feminist, and seeing myself as an artist. In a lucky coincidence, my tour of the UK started at the Women Over 50 Film Festival, huge thanks to Nuala O’Sullivan, so I was already reflecting on how much I’ve grown, and how much women and vulnerable people still must demand. So the GWL was a wonderful way to begin this trip to SQIFF, which really felt like a celebration of years of my artistic and political efforts.
I also would like to say a warm Thank You to Kate and Naomhan. They befriended me the first night I was there and were so kind to me all week, even though they were working so hard for the festival.

Here are some notes:

26 Sept I attended the scriptwriting workshop then went Transmission Gallery to watch Lasse Langstrom’s “Who Will Fuck Daddy?”

27 Sept The SQIFF opening “The Misandrists”
I did not like how trans issues were handled. I feel bored by these films that are supposedly shocking. What’s new here? A real live surgery of the removal of male reproductive organs. Yes, that was a new to my eyes.

28 Sept SQIFF Shorts: Sketches
Carrie Hawkes‘film “Black Enuf* is visually spectacular, edited so sharply with a mix of live footage and animation, and of course is a compelling story for a misfit like me. Really I’m hooked every time I see it. “Sunday Lunch” reminded me of what queers will put up with when we are trying to be nice with our families. There was an animated sequence in it about the father feeling trapped that was an outstanding example of how animation can tell some stories better than live actors.

28 Sept Tax On Me

“Tax On Me” is a hip-hop music video by filmmaker Kiana Kalantar-Hormozi and media coop responding to the preposterous Care Tax and the effect it has on people who need support. After the film, Kalantar Kalantar-Hormozi discussed the origins of the film, and current activism against unjust government policies penalizing people with disabilities. Follow #FightCareTax to find out more about this immoral and outrageous tax.

28 Sept SQIFF Shorts: The Gayz
The highlight is definitely DESIRE by CampbellX, it is important and beautiful, and I loved it. I’m in it but this is the first time I saw it. It is making well-deserved waves at film festivals this fall. It is an experimental film exploring desire for transmasculine, butch, stud, and masculine of center (MOC) people assigned female at birth. Rob Eagle‘s “Harding & His Camera” made for some interesting post-screening discussion around privilege, imperialism and what we DON’T know. Dr. Dawson said “it was a homosexual gaze applied to a homosocial society, which is problematic.”

28 Sept SQIFF Shorts: Are We Queer Yet?
“Ribbons”- I lived in Provincetown/Cape Cod 1987-1989, a historically gay male resort town, when men would go to die after their HIV+ diagnosis (there was no treatment or cure.) Was this film supposed to be a “feel good” kind of thing? Yikes. You can read more about the grassroots response to AIDS in Provincetown here.
You can watch my movie “1987, Summer,” its about being a young lesbians witnessing the AIDS years in Provincetown.

30 Sept Looking Awry: Representing Bisexual* Desires On Screen
Jacob Engelbert led this event in which we could watch scenes from movies he was referencing. I enjoyed the talk because although I’ve always had bisexual people in my life, it is useful for me to have someone very specifically spell out the social constructions that create such negative effects for bi people.

30 Sept Gaysian Superheroes
I finally had a chance to see “Khush” and “Banghra Jig” by the award-winning filmmaker Pratibha Parmar! I know that she’s important to women’s filmmaking and I’m so lucky to see them on a big screen.
I totally loved Seema Mattu‘s work! “Seema Weds Seema” is exactly the kind of movie I wish I’d thought of. Like Faggotgirl, girls who grow up in complicated families are told to be small. I consider it a rousing triumph when we unapologetically FILL THE SCREEN. AND MAKE THE WHOLE THING ABOUT OURSELVES. Deal with it.
By the way, this program was presented by Collect:If of the GWL. Collect:If is a fabulous new network bringing together Women of Colour (WoC) who are established figures in the arts, culture and creative industries in Scotland and those who are developing their practice.

Then came the Filmmakers Social. It is so fun and nourishing to hang with queers who love film. The space at the CCA is great for socializing already, but that dedicated felt special and important.

30 Sept SQIFF Shorts: Defiant Dykes
Well, I wish I got do-overs, but I don’t. Also the huge theater was full.
Every one of these films was excellent. The Q & A was led by Dr. Leann Dawson. All us panelists were involved with films that were working class, we were all on the older end of the age range of SQIFFers, and none of us were femme. I think “Breaking Down My Translation” by Azara Meghie and Kai Fi’ain was most interesting to me, by how it combined elements in a flow. I have much more to say about class and butchness and the ways my working class life influences my films, but that’s a longer thing. Also,

I firmly support the cultural boycott of the State of Israel.

30 Sept Looking Awry: Nowhere
This was part of the bisexual strand. “Self and Others” played first after being introduced by director Patricia Silva. I really appreciate that Silva makes the viewer closely examine gesture. When I see this film I realize all the times I’ve thought someone was simply gay, but forgot to consider that maybe they are bi. After that came the feature “Nowhere” Lucky for me I was in a good mood, because I did not like it at all. Jacob Engelbert had introduced it and given some context, which did help.

1 Oct SQIFF Shorts: Scotland III
These were all great and I was feeling especially charmed by Scotland generally, so I loved them all. “Joey” directed by Helen Wright hit just the right balance of reality and WTF is going on here. This short was great and is it going to be developed more fully – that would be awesome. I was also very drawn to “Pull.” I appreciated how Eleanor Capaldi dropped me in a situation, let me observe it, and left it open-ended. I very much liked being trusted in that way.

Diane Torr Tribute: Man For A Day
I puzzle over the word “masculinity” a lot. Am I masculine? Is that a scale to measure me by? This film offered some embodied examples of hit/miss performances of masculinity. Also I always heard of Diane Torr and knew I should know more about her.

SQIFF Closer: Signature Move
I think this film is going to be a big hit, and it deserves to be. The production values are super great, the acting is right on, the script is sensitive, and the story is strong. Lisa Donato who co-wrote the script is super cool and we had drinks afterwards and talked about our experiences of moving back home to a hostile place to do eldercare. She’s great.

As you see, SQIFF is excellent. I am already looking forward to being there next year. Thanks, Team SQIFF, for your hard work at creating so much enjoyment for me.

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