YIFM Young Film Critic Pia Roycroft looks at Queendom at CIFF 2023.

Queendom (2023)  is a documentary by Agniia Galdanova that explores the reality that many LGBTQ+ people experience. Through the perspective of the star of the film, queer artist and activist Gena Marvin, the audience gets an authentic view of the daily struggles that so many of the populace have to endure in order to simply exist. Gena is based in Russia, a country infamously known for its exceedingly harsh treatment of the LGBTQ+ community and must come to terms with the fact that living as their authentic self means sacrificing themselves every day to unfettered abuse.

As the film progresses, the spaces in which Gena inhabits become more closed off and hostile, especially with the rise in Russian nationalism and the subsequent war with Ukraine. In response to this hatred, Gena advances their activism to public performance, wearing unique and creative outfits that draw attention. Of course, much of this attention is not kind, yet Gena perseveres. The onslaught of vitriol Gena receives leads them to make the difficult decision to leave Russia. This ultimately severs many of their relationships, including putting stress on the only familial connections they have left. In the end, Gena is forced to start anew in a country unknown to them, finding a peace in a moment that is bittersweet, but hopeful.

Galdanova observes not only showing the anguish Gena and many in their situation feel, but also the complexities of interpersonal relationships that are can often take a toll on your own identity. The film demonstrates the true power of protest as well as the vulnerability and truth behind existing as an out queer person. Visually stunning and heartbreaking, Queendom handles real world issues in a raw but empathetic manner.

Queendom screened at Cork International Film Festival 2023 and is available to stream online now. The Young Critics programme is run by Young Irish Film Makers in partnership with the festival.  Visit YIFM.com for more information about this training programme. 


Gemma Creagh is a writer, filmmaker and journalist. In 2014 she graduated with a First from NUIG’s MA Writing programme. Gemma’s play Spoiling Sunset was staged in Galway as part of the Jerome Hynes One Act Play series in 2014. Gemma was one of eight playwrights selected for AboutFACE’s 2021 Transatlantic Tales and is presently developing a play with the Axis Theatre and with the support of the Arts Council. She has been commissioned to submit a play by Voyeur Theatre to potentially be performed in Summer 2023 as part of the local arts festival. Gemma was the writer and co-producer of the five-part comedy Rental Boys for RTÉ’s Storyland. She has gone on to write, direct and produce shorts which screened at festivals around the world. She was commissioned to direct the short film, After You, by Filmbase and TBCT. Gemma has penned articles for magazines, industry websites and national newspapers, she’s the assistant editor for Film Ireland and she contributes reviews to RTE Radio One’s Arena on occasion.

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