Breaking barriers through film: highlights from the Scottish Queer International Film Festival

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SQUIFF. Credit: Queer YA

Macrobert Arts Centre hosted the Scottish International Queer Film Festival, better known as SQIFF, on Friday night (1 March).

SQIFF is a not-for-profit film festival, started in 2015 with the goal of sharing and starting a conversation about queer films. This event takes place every year in Glasgow, with the last one being such a big success that the organization decided to bring the film festival on the road for LGBT History Month.

Ahead of the event, Macrobert decided to trial a gender-neutral bathroom; a big change to make everyone feel comfortable and heard, especially during such an inclusive and important occasion.

I had the chance to watch seven short films, all incredibly beautiful and different from each other. Below is a recap for those who missed it or would like to seek out these films.

Round One, Dir. Ella Sowinska, Country: Australia, Year: 2017

The film follows football player Nicola Stevens, while she’s training. Her heavy breathing is the only sound that we hear in the film but we can read her thoughts through the subtitles. It tells the story of the first openly gay woman to play in the first professional Australian Football League. The film covers the topic of gender differences as well and how women’s football doesn’t get the same recognition of man’s football.

There You Are, Dir Lisa Donato, Country: USA, Year: 2018

The story of a trans woman who has to dress like a boy in order to visit her dying grandmother for a final goodbye. It’s a film about the difficulties people have to face when their decisions are not accepted by their families and the fear of never being able to be their real self when around relatives that don’t understand it.

Blooming Night, Dir. Bell Zhong, Country: China, Year: 2017

A lonely boy follows a trans woman wearing a pair of red heels into a gay club, where he finds a forbidden community that he never knew about before. It’s a tale about finding a place where you feel like you belong and knowing you are never really alone.

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Credit: SQUIFF

Medulla Oblongata, Dir. Roberto Nascimento, Country: New Zealand, Year: 2017

The story of Abraham Naim and his journey to find a safe place away from his hometown in the Maldives, where being a Drag Queen is a crime that could get him killed. The film makes its audience reflect on how something like a Drag Queen competition, in places like Scotland, are entertaining and inclusive, and in other parts of the world, forbidden and unacceptable.

Crashing Waves, Dir. Emma Gilbertson, Country: UK, Year: 2018

Two working-class men live their relationship through passion, fights, vulnerability and fear. The film contains an original narrative, no dialogue only a choreographed dance to convey the couple’s feelings and struggles in a close-minded community.

Top 10 Places to Visit in Sao Paulo, Dir. Akira Kamiki, Country: Brazil, Year: 2018

Two photographers walk around Sao Paulo, sharing experiences and culture differences and slowly falling in love with each other. The film is a beautiful example of how language and culture barrier can’t obstacle a connection between two people.

VISIBLE, Dir. Campbell X, Country: UK, Year: 2018

The film illustrates the misconceptions around LGBTQ+ people of colour and their history. An important documentary about celebrating the community, its diversity and mainstream perception.

Events like SQIFF are a really important platform in raising awareness. These stories show how everyone is just the same, we are all human beings looking for the opportunity to be ourselves and live our lives without hiding or being afraid.

This is why we should support and participate to this film festival, in order to educate ourselves about the LGBTQ+ history and start a conversation about this community struggles and oppression that unfortunately are still relevant nowadays around the world.

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