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Queer qandī Journeys and Destinations film fest

Encompass network / Queer qandī Journeys and Destinations film fest

9-18 October 2020

Summary: queer qandī Journeys and Destinations was a queer film festival focused on issues of migration and movement in SWANA (South West Asia and North Africa) region. The films were all made in or by filmmakers with heritage from the region. The festival hosted conversations and panel discussions with filmmakers, activists and scholars operating in and/or studying the region. The conversations and the panel discussions ended the festival during the weekend of 17-18 October. The festival was composed of 17 film screenings, two panel discussions, four conversations and a scriptwriting workshop. Due to the pandemic the ten days long festival was held entirely online.

The festival was organised in collaboration with QTI Coalition of Colour.

The festival was sponsored by the Centre for the Study of Global Human Movement and lgbtQ@CAM at the University of Cambridge and National Lottery. ‘Queer’ Asia Collective were guest curators and curated a package of three films for the festival.

Report: The panels discussed the portraying of the LGBTQ+ SWANA identity in film, art and literature as mediums. The participants were invited to reflect on the expressions LGBTQ+ SWANA identities take in narratives of movement and migration within and from the region. They also addressed the dynamic between the region and the diaspora and modes of collaboration for building coalitions and collaborations. The dichotomy of ‘oppressive south’ vs ‘liberal west’ was explored with reference to homonationalism and pinkwashing politics.

The conversations offered insights in work carried out by creative activists operating in the region. The conversations centred the context specific concerns held by LGBTQ+ activists across the SWANA regions.

The film selection was made on a case by case basis in order to offer films which intended to destabilise flattening narratives of the region.

The films had between 31 and 62 viewings based on tickets obtained via Eventbrite. In total there were 740 tickets obtained for the films via Eventbrite. And in average 35-40 people attended the panel discussions and the Instagram conversations.

Dr Leila Mukhida, (She/Her) Lecturer in Modern German Studies, University of Cambridge, chaired the first panel on the topic of Erasure, Resurrection and Movement – Queer Migrations in and from SWANA . The panellists were Dr Sabiha Allouche, (She/Her) Lecturer in Middle East Politics, University of Exeter, UK; Mahtab Pishghadam, (She/Her) film director, Iran and Lola Silva, (She/Her) international media researcher and co-founder of International Feminist Art Festival – Chouftouhonna in Tunisia.

Screenshot from the panel

The second panel Imagining queer futures for SWANA, was chaired by artist and activist Jade Pollard-Crowe (She/Her) and hosted Selim Mourad, (He/Him) film director, Lebanon; Ghadir al Shafie, (She/Her) director of Aswat- Palestinian Feminist Center for Gender and Sexual Freedoms which operates Kooz – Queer Film Festival, Palestine; Dr Sima Shakhsari, (They/Them) associate professor in the Department of Gender, Women & Sexualities Studies, University of Minnesota, US and Ümit Ünal, (He/Him) film director, Turkey/UK.

Screenshot from the panel

The invited guests for the conversations included:

  • Weema Askri,(They/Them) general coordinator of Mawjoudin Queer Film Festival in Tunis, and Mawjoudin’s project officer, working with queer refugees and asylum seekers in Tunisia.
  • Joseph Gebrael, (He/Him) co-director of Houwa (2018), Libanon.Filmmaker and choreographer currently based in France.
  • İris Mozalar, (She/Her) Kurdish feminist trans LGBTI+ activist, DJ and performer, cast member of the biographical documentary İris (2019), Turkey.
  • Eve Osman, (She/Her) Sudanese-American queer BIPoC LGBT+ activist based in Munich, Germany.
  • Mouaad el Salem, (He/Him) director, debuting with This Day Won’t Last (2020), Tunisia.
  • riham sheble, (She/Her) a queer(ing) Afro-Arab freelance researcher, translator and editor, Egypt, MA candidate at the Department of Film and Television Studies at the University of Warwickformer, UK.
  • Misha Yakovlev, (They/Them) PhD student in Film and Television Studies at the University of Warwick, UK.

Recordings from the conversations and panel is available here: https://bit.ly/3pq4Esa