We headed to the 26th edition of the GAZE film festival in Ireland to take a look at queer identity on today’s silver screen
This is the 26th year of the GAZE international LGBT film festival in Ireland. Every summer, the festival curates a selection of the most important queer films of the past year, showing a range of award-winning pieces from other festivals like Berlinale, as well as some exclusive Irish premieres. “When GAZE Film Festival (then the Dublin Gay and Lesbian Film Festival) was first established, homosexuality was still criminalised in Ireland”, the festival’s programmer Roisin Geraghty tells Dazed. “From these rather radical roots, GAZE has become a significant international player on the LGBT film festival circuit, promoting greater visibility of queer artistic voices on screen and celebrating the power of LGBT stories.”
This year’s festival put a specific spotlight on Australian queer film, honouring the parallels between Ireland and Australia’s recent marriage equality battles. Ireland in the past five years has been a place of constant, progressive, political upheaval, and now as the dust settles, it’s the perfect setting in which to get a snapshot of queer identity in 2018. What are our anxieties, our fears, our hopes for the future? Here are five of the best from the festival.
Ireland’s socio-political landscape has been reshaped in the last three years by two intertwining rivers of change – the feminist and the LGBT rights movements. At the confluence of these two movements exist queer women - the proudly self-proclaimed dykes, lesbians and trans people who have been the vanguard of these overlapping battles for equality.
Outitude was conceived by Sonya Mulligan and Ger Moane in the summer of 2015, immediately following the marriage referendum. It is appropriate that it makes its world premiere this weekend at GAZE, just as Irish women have won their reproductive rights in another vote. This documentary is a record of the vibrant human beings at the nexus of two movements - the feminist lesbians who, since the 1970s, have pushed against homophobia, misogyny, and heart-wrenching custody battles, to culminate in the landslide victories of recent years. Much has been said about Ireland’s recent political shifts, everywhere from the New York Times to Vogue - it is only Outitude, screened at this week’s GAZE festival, that finally completes the story.
It is the story of the lesbian women of Ireland, told in distinct chapters, but woven together by the threads of love. “Gorgeous” is the word they keep using to describe each other, and it echoes through the film.
The commercialisation of pride is an unanswered question that dogs LGBT activists in 2018, our itch we can’t scratch. Riot could not come at a more timely moment. This film is intense, hilarious, and brutal in its treatment of our history, as it tells the tale of Sydney’s first Mardi Gras. As the story unfolds, contemporary puzzle pieces click into place. Suddenly, party and protest coalesce, reality and idealism harmonise. Today’s debates on gay misogyny, corporate sponsorship, and other infighting, melt into perspective as we watch the 70s lesbians on screen roar “I’ve got too much to do to educate poofs about women’s rights!!”. Jeffrey Walker’s 2018 fictionalised documentary is a must see.
“Molotov faggot” is just one of the ways Linn de Quebrada describes herself. Winner of a Teddy award at the Berlinale, this inventively and intimately shot portrait of de Quebrada captures her treatise on identity - something she is a master of. You’ve heard of queer narratives being reclaimed? De Quebrada snatches them back. Her razor sharp sense of self cuts through questions of what it means to be woman, to be queer, to be anything. You leave the cinema feeling like those questions don’t hurt anymore.
Neonboy’s life is dark. The luminous paints that coat his body every night only emphasise the darkness. Loneliness is the hardest part of the queer experience to talk about, but the isolation in his Porto Alegre apartment says it without words - the walls almost crush us, the only way out the little window of his webcam. It’s easy to see why this suffocating piece by Marcio Reolon and Filipe Matzembacher won a Teddy at the Berlinale. Hard Paint is a hard watch - but an essential one.
The narrative of pre-teen transition has been routinely weaponised against trans people in recent years, with TERFs painting a dishonest portrait of children pressurised into transition. The sleepy world of They unpicks this lie with its slow, whispery reflections. A weekend in the soft, understanding care of their sister allows protagonist J time to think. The film cleverly draws the strands of identity together, exploring memory, family, ethnicity, and love – as these unravelling strands reveal themselves to be fractured and fragile too, J finds the reassurance to make a decision for themselves. Anahita Ghazvinizadeh’s first feature-length film debuted at Cannes last year, but it finds a sense of place here.