Irish Film Tackling Trans Issues Screens @ GAZE to Premiere

Tuesday Night, a new Irish short film that focuses on media representations of trans people is set to screen at GAZE International LGBT Film Festival. Tuesday Night uses comedy to address the portrayal of trans people in the media and will premiere at GAZE on the 6th of August at the Lighthouse Cinema in Dublin.

The 15-minute short film was produced by Irish production company Pondering Media and stars actor Sean Duggan (who recently appeared in The Lobster) and comedian Bethany Black (who has had roles in Doctor Who and Channel 4’s Banana). Black, who was the first trans woman to portray a trans woman in a leading role on UK television, plays the role of Lynne, a no-nonsense stockbroker who runs up against Frank (Duggan), a small-minded detective whose only experience of trans people is what he’s seen on TV.

Speaking about Tuesday Night, Black commented; “From the second I read the script I could see this was the sort of thing I wanted to be involved in. It’s a piece that plays with and challenges the usual narrative around a trans character and it was so much fun to make. Every moment was a joy.”

Tuesday Night director and writer Michael Healy brings his unique brand of fresh, cosmopolitan comedy to the project.

Healy is one half of production company Pondering Media which was founded by his sister (executive producer and Tuesday Night co-star) Karen Healy in 2015. The brother-sister duo make film and web content, specially focusing on comedy with a strong social message.

Their first short Would You Like Some Toast? was screened at festival’s around the world, most notably at the BAFTA-affiliated London Short Film Festival. Their equal marriage sketches, Listen to the Experts, also attracted positive press and won Best Comedy Sketches at last year’s Dublin Web Festival.

Tuesday Night is the company’s second comedy short. Gaze marks the beginning of the film’s festival run.


The GAZE International LGBT Film Festival runs 3rd – 7th August 2017


Call For: Submissions for GAZE Film Festival

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GAZE International LGBT Film Festival Dublin has announced the open call for submissions for the 25th edition of the festival.


The 25th anniversary will celebrate both what has come before us in LGBT history, focus on the present movement, and look towards the future of queer life and culture.


GAZE is particularly interested in fostering Irish LGBT filmmakers and filmmaking talent, bringing their work to the forefront of our festival, and disseminating it to the wider LGBT film festival circuit, through strong international film partnerships and the GAZE On Tour programme.


Full submission information is available on The submission deadline is May 12th. Full programme details will be announced in mid-June.


Click here or full submissions guidelines


Looking for funding?  Want to submit your work to festivals? Keep an eye on upcoming deadlines here.


GAZE Announces Special Guests

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GAZE Film Festival 2016 announces special guests attending event this weekend

For the past 24 years GAZE International LGBT Film Festival has been providing a platform for Irish and International LGBT cinema inDublin.  Taking place annually over the August Bank Holiday weekend in Light House Cinema Dublin, the festival offers an exciting array of a selection of films to suit a wide variety of audiences, with a choice of international titles and homegrown Irish films also being screened.  A number of special guests attending the festival have been announced, offering audiences an exciting opportunity to engage with filmmakers and contributors in person.

Kevin Stea, a former dancer with Madonna on her Blond Ambition tour, is one of the contributors involved in the opening night film, Strike A Pose and the festival is delighted to announce that he will introduce this Irish premiere of the film on Thursday 28th July.  The film features the male dancers from the iconic Blond Ambition tour, who reunite after 25 years to share stories and memories.  The film provides a fascinating insight to the intensity of relationships that develop throughout a major world concert tour.  Kevin will also introduce a special screening of Madonna: Truth or Dare, on Saturday 30th July.

Irish content stands proudly to the fore, and GAZE is a platform to provide visibility for Irish LGBT films and filmmakers. The 2016 Irish shorts programme builds on the very high standard of last year.  The festival will welcome filmmaker Edmund Lynch to the festival to introduce the world premiere of his film, A Different Country, on Friday July 29th.  The film tells of the dramatic difference in the lives of Irish LGBT people over the past few decades, with dozens of people speaking openly and movingly about their personal circumstances.  The film includes a special contribution from former president Mary Robinson.

Viva, one of the biggest Irish films internationally in 2016, will have a special screening at the festival with writer Mark O’Halloran in attendance to introduce the film and discuss the work.   Presented through the lens of an authentic Cuba, Viva explores the complex relationship dynamics between father and son as they clash over opposing expectations of each other.  Documenting the struggle to understand one another and reconcile as a family, the film is an emotion filled drama.

The festival this year will also mark the historical significance of the 1916 centenary with the historical thread YesterGAZE focusing on Roger Casement, whose sexuality often makes him an unsung hero of the rebellion.  A panel discussion will take place following a screening of Alan Gilsenan’s documentary The Ghost of Roger Casement, with participants including producer Bill Hughes and Professor Patrick Geoghegan.

The Irish premiere of Real Boy, a powerful documentary about a 19 year old trans man in the US, will be attended by the director of the film, Shaleece Haas.  A raw and breathtakingly honest account of Bennett Wallace’s resilience throughout his transition, and his acceptance, courage and maturity in the face of adversity, the film results in a huge sense of awe and admiration for this character by the closing credits of this wonderfully honest and refreshing documentary.

GAZE Film Festival takes place with the assistance of Dublin City Council, The Arts Council, the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, and the Communities Foundation for Ireland.

The GAZE film festival runs from July 28th – August 1st at Light House Cinema, Dublin.


GAZE Film Festival Report: Irish Shorts


June Butler was at a screening of Irish short films at the recent GAZE Film Festival.


Sunday the 2nd of August, found me gainfully occupied in viewing a number of short films as part of the Gaze Film Festival based in the beautiful Lighthouse Cinema. What followed was an afternoon well spent indeed – 6 pearls of short movies – all different but every one with a message that was both heartfelt and moving.

Making History (2015), directed by Ana Rodgers is a four-minute account of the referendum for same sex marriage in May 2015. Regardless of whether the viewer voted yes or no, it would be impossible not to feel emotional about this outpouring of joy and freedom. The piece is well edited and with scene after scene of rapture, it is a short film that makes for compulsive viewing. Capturing a nation caught in the throes of a common goal is truly uplifting beyond belief. People are naturally drawn to such euphoria – doubly so because of the statement made in upholding the individual’s human rights. Rodgers short film compacts pride at all levels into Making History.

Directed by Eoin Maher in 2013, No Strings tells the story of two young men who hook up for benefits without friends. Bryn from Wales and Sean from Ireland awkwardly meet. The agreement is that neither want anything more than sex. Both are migrants but while Sean uses humour to deal with his situation, Bryn is numbed to social interaction and simply wants to return to his family home in Wales. As the film progresses, it is interesting to note how both characters evolve – Maher has a most subtle touch in this wistfully delicate film and it is homage to his abilities that viewers care deeply about the outcome long before the final credits roll.

Our Gemma (2015) is a twelve-minute short on comedienne Gemma Hutton’s experience of coming out in the small northern town of Bangor. Hutton takes a no-nonsense approach to how she is viewed but it is clear from the narrative that past struggles have been endured and overcome. Hutton’s grandmother is a bastion to understanding and humour – a shining star in a sky of acceptance who loves and supports her granddaughter without conditions. This is an incredibly insightful and wry piece of filmography. Directors Cara Holmes and Paula Geraghty should be rightly proud.

Kudos to Cork filmmaker Brian Deane for getting such stunning performances from his two young actors (Brandon Maher and , Tadhg Moran). Notwithstanding the fact that Céad Ghrá (2014) is narrated with panache ‘as gaeilge’, Deane also convincingly succeeds in effecting an authentic tableau of first love. The drama enfolding between the two leads is truthful in source and brings a sense of understanding to the frailty of human interaction. At only 13 minutes long, Deane imbues his characters with warmth and humour holding our full attention until the final scene.

Luke (2015) is a ten-minute short about a young transgender who narrates his story with insight and laughter. Luke prefers not to label himself or others but instead aspires to the adage of live and let live. There does not appear to be external guidance regarding how Luke records his tale, with the end result being a picture of searing honesty coupled with the freedom that ensues. Shannon Purcell directs this compassionate and poignant film.

Born in 1830 (died 1904), Edward James Muggeridge was a pioneer in the art of photography with a particular interest in motion photography and the newly emerging motion picture. He changed his name to Eadweard Muybridge because he considered this to be the original Anglo-Saxon spelling. Turning (2015) is a six-minute short film (directed by Eoin Heaney) paying deference to Muybridge’s work. It also brings to mind, albeit on a lesser scale, Maya Deren’s 1958 trailblazing film titled The Very Eye of Night in its depiction of stylised beauty from a cyclical view. Heaney’s enthralling film strips away the clothes that bind us to embrace the rawness of visual allure – touchingly honest in its presentation and yet deeply inspiring from every aspect as the balletic dancers come to a final gentle denouement. This short film was a fitting end to an afternoon of wonder.


The GAZE Film Festival took place 3o July – 3 August 2015.




GAZE Dublin International LBGT Film Festival seeks Festival Programmer


Illustration: Adeline Pericart

Gaze Film Festival Ltd. seeks to appoint a Festival Programmer to deliver the 22nd GAZE International LGBT Film Festival Dublin in 2014 on the August Bank Holiday weekend. This is an exciting opportunity to curate the GAZE Festival and take responsibility for conceiving, developing, budgeting, and implementing the artistic and programmatic focus of the organisation in consultation with the Festival Manager and GAZE Board of Directors.

Remuneration negotiable & commensurate with experience.

Application Deadline 12 noon. 29.11.14

For more information go to


GAZE Film Festival: Int. Leather Bar


Travis Mathews has proved to be one of the year’s most controversial filmmakers. Int. Leather Bar, which made its first appearance on Irish screens as part of the GAZE film festival, replaced his earlier effort I Want Your Love, when Australian authorities banned that film at the Melbourne Queer Film Festival. Int. Leather Bear also gained notoriety at this year’s Sundance and Berlin film festivals. So, what’s all the fuss about?

James Franco, star of Disney’s Oz The Great and Powerful, has a problem. “My mind has been twisted by the way the world has been set up around me,” he says. And one thing that troubles one of Hollywood’s brightest stars is how we think about sex and how it appears in films, gay sex in particular. (Franco is straight.)

The “Franco faggot project”, as an actor’s agent describes Int. Leather Bar, twists and plays with an episode from cinema and gay liberation history. Vito Russo, author of The Celluloid Closet, was particularly critical of the film Cruising (1980, William Friedkin). It featured Al Pacino playing a cop who goes undercover while attempting to catcher a murderer of New York homosexuals. Activists opposed the negative depiction of queers and protested during the film’s production and release.  Friedkin, the Oscar-winning director of The French Connection (1971) and The Exorcist (1973), allegedly filmed sexually explicit scenes in New York’s gay S&M bars, but the MPAA forced cuts of up to 40 minutes of footage.  Franco’s project was to shoot scenes that might have appeared.  He wanted to show now what couldn’t be shown before.

Franco developed the project with Travis Mathews, whose sexually explicit naturalist drama, I Want Your Love, featured at last year’s GAZE. Their collaboration has produced a genuinely funny and provocative film that playfully, yet skilfully, explores, not the representation of gay sex acts, but the boundaries of pornography, documentary and fictional filmmaking.

Franco recruited actor Val Lauren to take on a role similar to Al Pacino. The film provides three points of entry to the viewer: seeing Franco, a grade A Hollywood star, explain the rationale for his folly; seeing Mathews write and direct the scenes; and seeing Lauren struggle to understand exactly what he has become involved in.

Co-directors Franco and Mathews construct scenes, not solely to display graphic gay sex acts (the most extreme of which is fellatio; there is no penetration), but also to draw attention to Lauren looking at them take place. The filmmakers are challenging notions of naturalistic sex in film. Even when the sex is the “real thing”, i.e. not simulated, it remains totally contrived. They reflect the philosopher Žižek’s reading of Lacan: “Sex is minimally exhibitionist and relies on another’s gaze.” Sex is always a performance. So, we see a couple of engaging in intimate acts on a sofa, and then a wider shot reveals Franco, Mathews and other cameraman taking shots of the same scene from different angles. What appeared as a naturalistic scene of non-simulated sex has become a spectacle captured from a multiplicity of viewpoints.

This corruption of film’s apparent authenticity and naturalism affects the way the film works as a documentary. Shot mostly in a fly-on-the-wall style, it features Franco, Mathews and others behaving as if the camera was not there. Yet they constantly disrupt are belief in its apparent authenticity when Mathews, for example, instructs two actors “wait till I’m done talkin’, so it’s clean,” to wait till he gives his instruction and then rephrase their conversation as if Mathews hadn’t interrupted to get what he wanted to be said. Similarly, Lauren sits in a parking lot, reading aloud the script, reading the part where it describes Lauren sitting in a parking lot, reading aloud a script.  Picasso said, “We all know that Art is not truth.  Art is a lie that makes us realize truth,” and the filmmakers expose film as such a lie.

Int. Leather Bar clearly features sexually explicit scenes, but the filmmakers carefully control their shock value by mediating them through Lauren’s experience. Lauren is a married man. His phone calls to his wife appear genuine.

Peccadillo Pictures will distribute the film in the UK. It joins the ranks of what Linda Williams has called “hardcore art cinema”, a genre discussed at length by critics and academics, but little seen by the general public, which is perhaps a pity. It really is a remarkable work.


GAZE Film Festival: How to Survive a Plague



John Moran on a film chronicling the gay community’s response in the USA to the AIDS epidemic, which screened at the recent GAZE Film Festival.

How to Survive a Plague (2012, David France) chronicles the gay community’s response in the USA to the AIDS epidemic, focusing on the group ACT UP, based in New York, from 1987 to 1996. France worked as a journalist in the 1980s and ‘90s. He weaves together the stories of several key individuals prominent in a campaign that depended on the participation of thousands of people.


The film opens in New York in 1987, year 6 of the AIDS epidemic. France identities New York as its epicentre.  Ed Koch, the mayor, attempts to answer criticisms of New York City’s official response to the crisis. He tries to defend his characterisation of protesters, seen chanting, “Healthcare is a right,” as being both fascist and concerned citizens. On 24th March 1987, ACT UP stages its first protest on Wall Street. Activists stage a kiss-in protest at St Vincent’s Hospital, demanding sensitivity training for gay patients.


France then introduces activists such as Peter Staley, Mark Harrington, Bob Rafsky, Jim Eigo, David Barr, Gregg Bordowitz, Larry Kramer, Iris Long, Mark Harrington and many others to recount how they became part of a grassroots campaign to raise awareness, to learn about the disease, to fight it, and to challenge their representatives and government agency officials to address the issue and take appropriate steps to rectify bureaucratic problems. France mostly uses footage shot by activists, interspersing it with more recent interviews when appropriate.


The contribution of some figures is particularly noteworthy. Iris Long, a retired chemist, came out to explain the processes employed by the Federal Drugs Administration, by the drugs companies, and the like. Mark Harrington, a film archivist, draws on such knowledge to put together a glossary to explain different aspects of AIDS and the treatments then available. Peter Staley, a bond trader on Wall Street, quits his job to become fully involved in the campaign to “act up, fight back, fight AIDS”. Bob Rafsky, a father who came out at 40 in the midst of the crisis, challenges Bill Clinton during the 1992 presidential election, putting the AIDS crisis firmly on the agenda. The activists, telling their stories from archive footage, become concerned with whether they will live to see a drug. Fighting the certainty of death and their brave struggle to overcome it provides a compelling emotional hook.


The suffering that its victims went through comes across in harrowing images of frail young men’s bodies and the treatment of lesions and Kaposi’s sarcoma.  Appearances by Ray Nazzaro, an artist, as Jesus Christ in sequences outlining the protesters’ challenging of the Roman Catholic Church’s position, and later offering sound advice on sexual health, brings both humour and pathos.


The AIDS crisis and the efforts by the activists to address it properly provides an interesting insight into contemporary American society. The narratives it broaches include gay liberation; access to healthcare; government responsibility at federal, state and municipal levels; increasing trust in science and the reliability of the market to provide the correct drugs; the culture wars, involving the hardening of conservative positions, and a growing gulf between left and right. It’s complex terrain with much to cover, and France demonstrates considerable skill in putting human faces and stories on the devastating effects actions taken by powerful players can have within such debates.


How to Survive a Plague almost veers into treating the AIDS crisis as having ended before reminding us that four people continue to die from AIDS every minute and that 5,500 die daily because they cannot afford the cost of available treatments. Oscar-nominated as Best Feature Documentary, his film is a call to action.