Call for contributions
Queer/ing Film Festivals
Special Issue for Studies in European Cinema (Taylor & Francis)
Leanne Dawson (Film and German Studies, University of Edinburgh and Scottish Queer International Film Festival) and
Skadi Loist (Media Studies, University of Rostock, Film Festival Research Network and Hamburg Queer Film Festival)
The first LGBT/Q film festival started in San Francisco in 1977 and in the early years, such festivals served as a safe haven, offering a counterpublic space to create community and discuss representation at a time when so few – and often negative – images of LGBT/Q people were available in the mainstream.
Although the first wave of LGBT/Q film festivals were predominantly found in North America and Western Europe, Slovenia helped to lead the way on this side of the Atlantic, with the creation of a gay and lesbian film festival in Ljubljana in 1984. LGBT/Q people in Germany were pioneers with the LesbenFilmFestival Berlin taking place from 1985 to 2004, while the Lesbisch Schwule Filmtage Hamburg | International Queer Film Festival – the latter four words of the name a relatively recent and inclusive addition – has just celebrated its 26th edition. In the UK, Gay’s Own Pictures launched in 1986, was renamed the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival in 1988, and is now known as BFI Flare. Like the UK, Italy has hosted LGBT/Q film festivals since 1986, with others launching in the Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium and France before the end of the decade.
Indeed the 1980s brought about many changes: the AIDS crisis spurred queer activism and artistic output, including films that B. Ruby Rich would later label the ‘New Queer Cinema’ (1992), which paved the way for the development of the LGBT/Q film market and significant growth of LGBT/Q film festivals, which – with approximately 260 active events – now covers most regions of the globe (see ‘Queer Film Festivals Globally’ map, Loist 2015).
The start of the 1990s saw the arrival of LGBT/Q festivals in Ireland, Norway, Finland, Hungary and Austria. Spain has made up for its slightly later entrance to the LGBT/Q film festival scene – with Fire! in 1995 – by hosting numerous queer film festivals on the mainland as well as the Balearic and Canary Islands. Portugal and Switzerland both launched lesbian and gay film festivals in 1997. Two years later, Greece founded an LGBT/Q film festival as part of Thessaloniki’s International Film Festival, while queer festivals launched in the Czech Republic in 2000, Croatia in 2003, and Romania in 2004. The latter half of the decade saw the start of festivals in Latvia, Poland, Sweden, Slovakia, Hungary, Russia, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Serbia, with Lithuania and Ukraine hosting events from 2011.
Alongside the festivals in this potted overview, there is the Pride of the Ocean GLBT Film Festival on the High Seas, which takes place as part of a cruise ship’s entertainment programme, and LGBT/Q awards as part of A-list mainstream festivals, such as the Teddy Award, which just celebrated its 30th anniversary at the Berlinale; the Sunny Bunny at Kyiv in Ukraine; the Queer Palm at Cannes; and the Queer Lion at the Venice International Film Festival.
The queer film and festival landscape has clearly seen huge changes in the last 39 years, with the growing number of festivals allowing for more diverse programmes, ranging from mainstream to avant-garde and pornographic content, and further consideration of intersections of identity, such as Glitch QTIPOC Film Festival, which, like the Scottish Queer International Film Festival, launched last year in Glasgow. Recently, festivals have also been founded in Africa and the Middle East.
The proposed special issue of the peer-reviewed journal Studies in European Cinema, to be published in celebration of 40 years of LGBT/Q film festivals, is part of a series exploring Queer European Cinema, past and present. We invite articles examining the relation between queer cinema and film festivals today, as well as the function that these festivals serve. Contributions of approximately 6,000 words by academics and/or industry professionals should have a European focus (although content does not need to be exclusively European) and may include, but are not limited to:
- film festival history, trends, memory;
- queer film exhibition and curation;
- queering mainstream film festivals;
- film festivals and knowledge exchange;
- community building and/or activism;
- audience research;
- other art and performance within LGBT/Q film programmes.
Abstracts of 400 words and a 150 word biography including key publications should be submitted by Monday 4 April 2016 to: Leanne Dawson and Skadi Loist. Final articles are due on Wednesday 31 August 2016.