The documentary section of this year's Mezipatra is called Fight for Your Life. It is Russian queer youth, American gay homeless people, and people with AIDS in the 1980s who are fighting for theirs.
- Festival retrospective will present awarded, star-cast films with lesbian, gay and trans topics. The screens will present Kate Winslet and Catherine Deneuve.
- The 15th edition of Queer Film Festival Mezipatra with its topic of Till Death Do Us Part will annex Prague and Brno. The viewers will see 73 films including Oscar nominees.
When the documentary Children 404 was screened in Moscow for the first time this April, the audience couldn't enjoy the film in one go as the screening was attacked by a group of anti-gay activists and nationalists accompanied by several policemen with SMGs. They interrupted the screening in its 40th minute and demanded the event's termination on the ground of it being children pornography breaking the infamous law on the prohibition of homosexual propaganda. Moreover, the viewers and the filmmakers were called perverts and Western agents. “Although they eventually left the screening, we were left with a bad taste in our mouths. A feeling which made the film even more urgent and relevant in relation to the country which doesn't want to hear the voices of LGBTQ children,” said Tanya Cooper, a Human Rights Watch worker who was present at the screening.
Children 404 is a documentary consisting of anonymous testimonies of 55 teenagers who, as a part of the Children 404 online project, fight against the extreme, almost lethal homophobia in Vladimir Putin's Russia. “Russian queer youth face completely shocking humiliation and bullying, often even from their closest relatives. The viewers will see all that in the brutally authentic documentary which received standing ovation at Toronto film festival,” explains Lucia Kajánková, the program director of Mezipatra. The screening will be personally introduced by the directors, Pavel Loparev and Askold Kurov.
This is one of the reasons why the documentary section of the 15th edition of Queer Film Festival Mezipatra, which is starting in Prague on 6th November, is called Fight for Your Life. An American teenage couple, James and Tyler, are also struggling for their place in the sun in the Finnish-Danish documentary, American Vagabond. The boys ran away from their narrow-minded, homophobic, provincial families to San Francisco. Yet once arriving there, they were hit by the harsh reality of living in the streets and begging for work. “Their situation is in stark contrast to the image of San Francisco as the sunny, gay 'promised land,' as was recently shown by HBO's successful TV show, Looking,” explains Kajánková, adding that the director, Susanne Helke, has made a modern story of star-crossed lovers, and captured also the universal social phenomenon of youth homelessness. According to certain reports, LGBTQ teenagers constitute almost half of homeless youth in American cities.
The lives of Ernst Ostertag and Robi Rapp, two Swiss who fell in love in Zurich of the 1950s, are also threatened. They are still together, and the Swiss documentary, The Circle (Der Kreis), tells the story of police repression which seized the country sixty-four years ago. Ernst and Robi met at a queer dissent organisation, The Circle, which organized for example queer balls or published a magazine which was smuggled abroad... “The Circle reminds us once again of the necessity and importance of the fight against homophobia, which has been emerging all over the world,” reasoned the Teddy Award jury, which awarded the prize for the best documentary to the film at this year's Berlinale. The film is Switzerland's nominee for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
This year's Academy Awards ceremony will be hosted by the newly-wed actor Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother, Gone Girl), who also appears in the American documentary The Out List presented at this year's Mezipatra. He will join the host and comedian Ellen DeGeneres, actress Cynthia Nixon, activist Larry Kramer, and Milk's scriptwriter Dustin Lance Black, to share their experience with coming out in show business and in today's America. The challenges of LGBTQ activism will also be discussed by the butch queen Twiggy Puci Gacos and drag queen Lady Bunny. The documentary with the celebrities' open testimonies was created for HBO.
Another celebrity in our selection is Elizabeth Taylor, an actress and diva, who was one of the few who joined the fight against the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980s. “It's not a disease of a minority, but a threat for us all,” said the film icon in the time when the media as well as government officials kept silent about the problem, and the infected suffered through their last days in shame. In the American documentary, The Battle of amfAR made by the creators of Howl, the actress helped to doctor Mathilde Krim and her research team. The screening of this chronicle of difficult times will be accompanied by a discussion with Czech activists.
The number of heavy documentaries will be at least partly balanced by four time-tested pictures in the retrospective section of Only Lovers Left Alive. Fatal attraction blossoms between conservative Vivian and temperamental Kay in Nevada of the 1960s in Desert Hearts. Vivian is fascinated by Kay, but would she admit the fact that she's lesbian? “This classical lesbian drama has a happy-ending – despite the fact that love is often just as rare as winning in the casinos of Nevada,” says Kajánková. Sensual lesbian scenes are included also in the closing film of Mezipatra, The Hunger by the famous director Tony Scott. In this film from 1982, he didn't focus on his trademark frenetic camera style, concentrating rather on the circumstances of the star-cast love triangle (Catherine Deneuve, Susan Sarandon, David Bowie) in night New York. Deneuve plays an enchanting thousand-year-old vampire and doctor Susan Sarandon gradually yet inevitably succumbs to her charm...
Mutual affection that cannot be denied is familiar also to Pauline (Melanie Lynskey) in a drama based on true events by The Lord of the Rings' director, Peter Jackson. In Heavenly Creatures, Pauline's heart is filled by love for her new classmate, Juliette (Kate Winslet), with whom she shares hatred for annoying teachers and uncomprehending parents, as well as boundless imagination. However, is it possible to share also murder? Bewitching nineteen-year-old Kate Winslet stars in this chilling study of a pathological relationship.
The last film of the retrospective section is the French romantic drama, Those Who Love Me Can Take the Train (Ceux qui m'aiment prendront le train). This opus magnum and orgasm for all cinephiles, directed by Patrice Chéreau, offers a cynical journey into the dark depths of topics such as family, love, mortality, and forgiveness. The journey is rather symptomatic. All those who loved him travel by train to the funeral of the painter Jean-Baptiste. Yet the group is accompanied by an uninvited guest, the young and beautiful Bruno...
The 15th year of Queer Film Festival Mezipatra will take place in Prague from 6th to 13th November, and in Brno from 15th to 22nd November.
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