GAZE International LGBT Film Festival Roundtable

From left to right Katie McNeice, Tom Speers, Maya Derrington, Gemma Creagh and Roisín Geraghty

In this podcast, we welcome three filmmakers whose works are screening at this year’s GAZE International LGBT Film Festival (1 – 5 August). Maya Derrington, Katie McNeice and Tom Speers join Gemma Creagh to talk about their films and filmmaking.

Plus festival director Roisín Geraghty pops in to give us a quick look at this year’s programme.

Frida Think (Maya Derrington)

A woman walks into a party dressed as Frida Kahlo, only to find that her version of unique has mass appeal.


In Orbit (Katie McNeice)

A hypnotic and beautiful love story between two women that crosses both time and space.


Boy Saint (Tom Speers)

A sumptuous short film of friendship and adoration between boys, based on a poem by Peter LaBerge.

The GAZE International LGBT Film Festival runs from 1 – 5 August 2019. 

The Irish Shorts programme screens at  6:30pm at the Light House cinema on Sunday, 4th August.

Full programme & tickets here.

 

 

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GAZE LGBT 2018 Film Festival Launches

The GAZE LGBT Film Festival announced an exciting line-up of Irish and international guest filmmakers taking part in the festival which runs from 2nd – 6th August 2018 at Light House Cinema, Smithfield. Filmmakers will be discussing their work and meeting audiences during Q&A’s after films that explore a diverse range of subjects and stories.

Major titles announced include Disobedience, which stars Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams.  A woman returns to her Orthodox Jewish community that shunned her for her attraction to a female childhood friend.  Once back, their passions reignite as they explore the boundaries of faith and sexuality.  The film is directed by Sebastián Lelio (A Fantastic Woman).

Also confirmed to screen at the festival is The Miseducation of Cameron Post, starring Chloë Grace Moretz and Jennifer Ehle.  Based on the book of the same name by Emily M. Danforth, the film tells of Cameron Post, a 12 year old Montana girl, who is sent to a ‘de-gaying’ conversion camp after her parents die in a car crash and she is sent to live with her conservative aunt.  The film will also have a special screening at Pálás in Galway as part of GAZE on tour.

GAZE programmer Roisín Geraghty said “This year’s programme, while including something for all audiences, is also a reflection of what a year it has been for women – in portrayals on screen, behind the camera, and social shifts in the feminist movement.  We are also very proud of our Australian LGBT focus this year, a celebration of Australian LGBTQ+ society.  As always, we’re particularly excited by our selection of excellent short films too.  We really hope that audiences will come to support the festival and enjoy the selection of films and discussions on offer.”

The opening film on Thursday August 2nd is Riot, which celebrates LGBT trailblazers Down Under, telling the story of the roots of Mardi Gras and the start of the long road to their Yes vote for marriage equality.  The closing film of the festival is the inspirational story of Scott Jones, following the story of this young gay musician who was attacked and paralysed from the waist down.  It captures both the trauma and triumph of its character’s journey in a respectful, loving and nuanced way.

Screenings form a key part of the GAZE 2018 Film Festival programme, which will show the very best in contemporary LGBT films, but will also include discussions and special events including a special Queer Family Event on Saturday 4th August, which is tailored to appeal to all families.  This will include a special screening of Paranorman, and Drag Queen Story Time at The Gutter Bookshop in Temple Bar.

 

Full details of all the events are available atwww.gaze.ie , where tickets are also on sale.

The GAZE 2018 Film Festival takes place at Light House Cinema, Smithfield, from August 2nd – 6th 2018.

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GAZE Film Award Winners 2017

 Three Friends

GAZE International LGBT Film Festival has announced the winners of the GAZE Film Awards 2017, with Michael Moody Culpepper’s Three Friends picking up Best Irish Short.

The Audience Award and The Spirit of Gaze Award  went to the opening night documentary, Linda Cullen and Vanessa Gildea’s The 34th, telling the story of the campaign for a Yes vote in the Marriage Equality Referendum in 2015

Best International Short went to French director Céline Devaux’s Sunday Lunch, and Best Doc was won by David France’s The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson.


 

 



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Gaze Line-up

 

The GAZE LGBT Film Festival has announced an exciting line-up of Irish and international guest filmmakers taking part in the special 25th edition which runs 3rd-7th August 2017. Filmmakers will be discussing their work and meeting audiences during Q&As after films that explore a diverse range of subjects and stories all the way from the sun, skin and escape of a gay holiday cruise in Dreamboat to a couple’s hellish journey by boat through the Scottish Highlands in the thriller The Dark Mile.

Noel Sutton, Festival Director of GAZE said, “I’m thrilled to welcome such an exciting group of filmmakers from our anniversary programme. We have a 25-year history of bringing audiences and filmmakers together to discuss and reflect on LGBT film and culture both from Ireland and across the world and this year will be no exception. Appropriately our guests will be both looking back through our collective past in films like Queerama and Against the Law, while also reflecting modern gay life and storytelling in the two very different voyages of Dreamboat and The Dark Mile. Our retrospective screening of The Crying Game gives us a chance to reflect on the journey of Trans visibility in Ireland from one of perceived sensationalism to having some of the most progressive laws in Europe.”

Following up on her recent moving documentary exploration of her mother’s Irish birth family, After the Dance, director Daisy Asquith returns to Ireland for the Irish premiere of Queerama. A century of British gay experience is brought to life, selected from the extensive BFI Archive, from the first gay relationship on film in 1919 through to the sexual liberation of the 21st century queer and transgender scene.

German filmmaker Tristan Ferland Milewski brings us aboard a seven-day gay cruise with passengers from 89 nations soaking up the sun, sea and naked skin in his documentary Dreamboat. It’s a trip of liberation where day and night, time and space melt with the rhythm of party music but it’s also an inner odyssey, at odds with its shiny veneer, through internal boundaries and the intricacies of modern gay life.

Irish director Fergus O’Brien will be at the festival to discuss his powerful new docudrama Against the Law, marking 50 years since the decriminalisation of male homosexuality in the UK. Following the story of Peter Wildeblood (played by Daniel Mays), a journalist whose partner turned Queen’s Evidence against him in one of the most explosive trials of the 1950s but who emerged from prison determined to change the draconian laws against homosexuality.

A taut and terrifying psychological thriller, The Dark Mile, sees a London lesbian couple take a boat trip to reconnect after a personal tragedy. Their idyllic journey into the Scottish Highlands soon turns into a horrifying ordeal. Director Gary Love will take part in a Q&A to discuss this gripping original work and its clear nods to cinema masterpieces such as Deliverance and Rosemary’s Baby.

These guest events are just one part of GAZE 2017 Film Festival programme of the very best in contemporary LGBT films, discussions and retrospective screenings in a special programme that reflects the festival’s 25-year history of celebrating LGBT films and filmmakers. Full details of all the events are available at www.gaze.ie. Guests will also be in attendance for the festival’s Opening Night World Premiere of The 34th – The Story of Marriage Equality in Ireland with full details to be released soon.

 

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Irish Film Review @ GAZE: A Different Country

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Emily O’ Callaghan was at GAZE to see the world premiere of Edmund Lynch’s A Different Country, a film that began with the filming and recording of members of the LGBT community in Ireland. They, with true reflections, told their stories of Coming Out to claim full and equal rights as members of Irish society, when the result of the marriage equality referendum was announced in Dublin Castle on Saturday, 23rd May 2015.

 

In A Different Country, director Edmund Lynch has painstakingly pieced together an impressive catalogue of first-hand witness accounts to the LGBT struggle in Ireland.

This beautifully paced collection of interviews, images and historic newspaper archives brings to life the journey from lonely individuals searching for connections to the birth of underground clubs combined with personal coming out stories, fear and progression as this group navigated their place in society culminating with a massive victory in 2015 of recognised marriage equality, an astonishing accomplishment given how recently it was still illegal to be gay in Ireland, 1993 to be specific.

 

The struggle is not over for LGBT activists ,yet the intelligence, strength and compassion demonstrated in the interviewees shows just how light can overcome darkness, even in Catholic Ireland.

 

Lynch is to be congratulated for taking the audience’s hand and leading us through the story of the gay community in Ireland, putting a spotlight on the long-suffering Transgender community. This world premiere of the film had the audience on an emotional roller coaster from beginning to end, with many reminiscing about actual events they had lived through, enjoying the personal stories and empathising with the crippling hardships of attempting to be one’s private self in Ireland, publicly.

 

A Different Country screened on Friday 29th July as part of the 2016 GAZE International LGBT Film Festival 
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Irish Film Review @ GAZE: Viva

viva

 

Richard Drumm checks out Viva, which screened at this year’s GAZE International LGBT Film Festival

[Contains spoilers]

Written, directed and produced with Irish talent, Viva explores the Cuban drag scene and one struggling young performer in particular, Jesus (Héctor Medina), who goes on to become the titular Viva. Struggling to make ends meet with his occasional hair-dressing clients, and little to do day-to-day except give his friend use of his apartment so she and her boyfriend can have sex, Jesus gravitates more and more toward the local drag club and the dysfunctional family of sorts that it represents. Led by Mama (Luis Alberto García), who Jesus styles wigs for, the various acid-tongued drag queens show our protagonist a strength and confidence which he feels is lacking in his own life; surrounded as he is by aggressively macho bravado and the ghost of his father, Angel’s (Jorge Perugorría) own toxic masculinity. Thought to be in prison for killing a man, the famed local boxer (who walked out on Jesus and his mother when he was only a child) suddenly returns one day while Viva is performing. Disgusted at the effeminacy and what he perceives as his son’s weakness he drunkenly assaults him yet still insists on living with Jesus and controlling his life. Most drastically, he bans Jesus from returning to the club or ever performing again. As his father spirals further into drunken oblivion and Jesus is forced to turn to more drastic avenues to be able to feed himself and his father, tensions in the household rise.

Despite the setting, this still in many ways remains recognisably Irish. From the constant shots of rain-pelted grey buildings, to the local ‘auld-one’ Jesus visits regularly, not to mention the occasional colloquialism slipping into the subtitles (I’m convinced using the phrase “cleaning her box” as a way of describing gynaecological hygiene is a distinctly Irish one and would be curious to know if that particular subtitle is altered from country to country), the film still retains fragments of home. Indeed, as Mark O’Halloran confirmed in the post-screening Q&A, the story itself of a young gay man living in a nominally conservative society and trying to deal and reconcile with his estranged father could just as easily have been set here.

Speaking of that aforementioned colloquialism, it’s worth saying up front that (however that above synopsis makes the film sound) this is a very funny film. The majority of the humour, if not all of it, comes from the drag artists themselves; the dynamics of their interactions akin to that of a particularly vulgar and thunderously bitchy set of old housewives gossiping and passing judgement on all and any who dare enter their sphere of notice. It’s partially for this reason that the film really comes alive when it fully immerses itself in the drag scene and explores it in all its hazily-lit glory. This is especially true of the performances, a series of highly melodramatic lip-syncs (often with real tears), they make for not only an unassailable soundtrack but also visually engaging, fun and (when narratively appropriate) even dramatically satisfying set-pieces. Think the ‘Club Silencio’ scene from Mulholland Drive but with less emphasis on freaking you out and more on entertaining you.

Owing to the strength of that side of the film, it’s disappointing to report that the more conventionally dramatic side of the story fails to engage quite as well. Despite being the backbone of the film and handled better than it could be in similar films, the narrative with Angel can’t help but (literally, given the plot) close off the more vibrant and interesting club antics to us. It still deserves some praise; the un-remarkability of their troubled relationship is in many ways what makes it noteworthy. It feels real and messy and, despite how negatively it’s affecting Jesus’ life, it never becomes this all-consuming force of dramatic nature that drowns the story. It’s presented quite believably, as an obstacle, one he lives his life around and has to deal with day-to-day.

What truly lets it down is how formulaic both the ultimate resolution and the story beats it hits to get there, are. Spoilers ahoy but as the film goes on we learn Jesus’ father was let out of prison early owing to severe and untreatable cancer. From there you can guess exactly everything that happens, right up to him showing up at the club for Viva’s big show-stopping performance as she finally comes fully into her own, and him being proud of his son for it. It’s a pity as the film had toed a nice line at making their troubled dynamic true to life while also managing to make this drunken, abusive bigot seem partially sympathetic without letting you forget he’s an unrepentant asshole. That nuance is gradually eroded away as we move toward a resolution that never feels fully earned and could certainly have been more satisfying. That said, in keeping with the film’s strength, Viva’s final performance, fuelled by grief and anger is suitably enthralling.

In other areas the film fairs well. Having already mentioned the fantastic soundtrack, the actual score is less remarkable but has a nice, subtle, authentic feel to it that anchors the film’s setting without feeling intrusive or stereotypical. Visually too, the film is strong. One character remarks that where they’re living is “the most beautiful slum in the world” and it’s hard to argue the point given how the film photographs the urban landscape. Urban decay can often be aesthetically striking but even more so here where it’s being applied to the familiar architecture and faded splashes of colour that the Havanan landscape is recognisable for.

While the film may be less than stellar in its main dramatic thrust, that doesn’t detract from the stronger elements that make it well worth a watch. When it works, it’s a funny, occasionally sad, visually and aurally vibrant and bombastic affair with an acid tongue and genuinely funny albeit bleak sense of humour. Decidedly the best Irish feature you’re likely to see about Cuban drag queens in the immediate future.

 

Viva screened on Friday, 29th July  as part of the GAZE International LGBT Film Festival

Viva is released in Irish cinemas on 19th August.

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Irish Film Review @ GAZE: YesterGAZE

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Richard Drumm went along to YesterGAZE at this year’s GAZE International LGBT Film Festival. 

Nestled within the sleepy afternoon of Saturday at GAZE, YesterGAZE was nominally an exploration, for the year that’s in it, of queer (and to a lesser extent female) representation during and around the events of 1916. More of a presentation and discussion than a regular screening, it comprised of a (delightfully passive-aggressive) music video by Zrazy pointing out the erasure of the women of 1916, followed by a screening of ‘The Ghost of Roger Casement’, capped off by a brief vignette of David Norris discussing Casement before closing with a Q&A panel discussion about Casement and the themes brought up by the documentary.

It would seem redundant to review a television documentary from over a decade ago. Nonetheless, it is amusing to see a time-capsule of early noughties tech and editing styles (the quality of title cards and animations that major broadcasters got away with in the era immediately preceding the widespread availability of editing software on home PCs is quite bemusing), not to mention early noughties politics. Oh what a time, when a documentary could be shown featuring Bertie Ahern where not only was he not the focus of it but was even somewhat framed as a hero of the piece. What was particularly refreshing about the documentary was that (in keeping with what we saw in many of the celebrations this year), there’s precious little blind valorising of the Rising. It was a troubled, messy event that succeeded for a complicated, fractured series of reasons and Casement is presented with similar complexity.

Obviously, exclaiming that we’ve come a long way from one hundred years ago, in terms of how a figure like Casement being gay would be received, is a little quaint. However, seeing how controversial it still seemed to be in 2002 was more sobering. (An anecdote from the panel discussion of one woman who refused to believe Casement was a ‘pervert’ when the Black Diaries were authenticated demonstrates the difference we’ve seen in just fourteen years.) It nonetheless feels telling that a hundred years later we’re still discussing a figure like Casement predominantly in relation to his sexuality while his other activities and achievements get a tad side-lined. This was a man who made a valiant effort to draw attention to the horrors of Britain’s colonialism, who in the process realised the subjection of his own countrymen and turned, in the midst of WW1, to the German’s in an effort to help them break from British rule.

While it wasn’t necessarily the explicit goal of the presentation, nor did it make much of an appearance in the Q&A; the erasure of practically anyone who isn’t a white, cis, straight male from major events such as the Rising is an irritatingly common problem and one ripe for exploration, even amongst the LGBTQ+ community itself. Especially in light of the very justified backlash and discussion had around Roland Emmerich’s Stonewall in the very recent past, plagued as it was with justified accusations that it wilfully whitewashed its story and removed the many, significant people of colour and trans protesters.

As for David Norris’ brief appearance, it was exactly what you’d expect it to be; pompous, amusing and tinged with gleeful pride as he got to expound upon the virtues of a fellow gay intellectual. There was the bemusing sense that, as he looked directly into the camera and talked about what a handsome fellow, and how intelligent Casement was and we mustn’t forget what a handsome fellow he comes across as in photos; that maybe Norris is really talking about someone else…

YesterGAZE is a valuable addition to the overall festival, creating a brief dialogue about a particular subject which nicely breaks up the various big name films screening there. If you’re attending GAZE next year and happen to be around for this particular presentation, it’s certainly worth dropping by.

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