GAZE International LGBT Film Festival 2013 (1 – 5 August, Light House Cinema, Dublin)
Brian Lloyd chats to festival programmer David Mullane about the GAZE International LGBT Film Festival, which kicks off tomorrow.
It seems shocking to think of it, but homosexuality in Ireland was decriminalised only twenty years ago. “The GAZE Film Festival’s been running for twenty-one years and this will be the twentieth anniversary of decriminalisation. The timing’s a little strange,” remarks David Mullane, the festival’s programmer. The festival – Ireland’s only LGBT film festival – runs from August 1st to August 5th at Lighthouse Cinema in Smithfield, Dublin. The coincidence of the two events – twenty years of decriminilisation and the festival – doesn’t, however, mean the two are linked. “We do have a number of screenings about LGBT history, sure, but it’s not just documentaries or retrospectives about that, as well. That said, one of our big events is a free screening of The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name, the RTÉ documentary by Bill Hughes.” First broadcast in 2000 on RTE, the documentary follows the history of the Irish gay community from Oscar Wilde to decriminalisation. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion on the future of the LGBT community in Ireland, with some of the original contributors of the documentary taking part. The director of the documentary, Bill Hughes, will also present the screening as well.
“Every film in this festival could be about gay filmmakers but the topics could be about, say, milk pasteurisation or something like that. So, really, a gay film is one that’s going to entertain a gay audience. There are some films that are about gay people, but they’re not doing gay things necessarily.” David goes on to talk about The Man Behind The Throne, the story of choreographer Vincent Paterson and his work with some of the most famous music artists of the last thirty years. But do you necessarily have to be a member of the LGBT community to enjoy and attend the festival? “Definitely not,” David replies, firmly. “These film festivals started because there was a lack of representation for gay people on screen. So it was aimed at gay people. That’s getting better. It’s not perfect, but it’s getting there. In order to survive as a film festival, we need to appeal to everyone. We have Pussy Riot – that’s the Irish premiere of the documentary. That’s a pretty mainstream documentary that everyone can and should see.”
But now, society is slowly becoming more and more accepting of gay culture and society, is there still a need for film festivals that deal only in LGBT films and issues? “If films like these aren’t shown here, they probably won’t be seen anywhere else in Ireland and they’re worth seeing. Firstly for entertainment value because they’re great films. But secondly because they deal with LGBT issues. We’ve got documentaries from Cameroon and Jamaica, where there’s serious homophobic and human rights issues. We don’t see ourselves as a political event, we’re a LGBT social and cultural event.”
As mentioned, the festival runs from August 1st to August 5th, kicking off with the opening night gala premiere of Animals. David describes it as “Gus Van Sant mixing Donnie Darko and Seth McFarlane’s Ted“, and is David’s favourite film of the year with director Marcal Fores. James Franco’s controversial Interior. Leather Bar also will feature at the Festival, which David admits he isn’t sure if it’s a documentary or a film. Another highlight is Wonder Women that explores and traces the legacy of both Wonder Woman and other female characters in pop culture, comic books and science fiction films throughout the last century. The director Kristy Guevara-Flanagan will be in attendance, followed by a panel discussion led by Jim Carroll.
In all, the GAZE Film Festival promises to be an inspiring social event that truly deserves to go from strength to strength. Tickets and a full schedule are available at GAZE.ie.