8th Pink Life QueerFest Programme

The 8th Pink Life QueerFest starts the festival season with the opening ceremony where Love, Scott will be screened. Both the opening concert and party will take place in Anahit Sahne on Thursday night, January 24. This year’s festival will be hosted by Kıraathane İstanbul Edebiyat Evi (Kıraathane İstanbul Literature House), Fransız Kültür Merkezi (French Cultural Center) and Tasarım Atölyesi Kadıköy (Design Workshop Kadıköy) on January 25-26-27th.

The festival is made possible with the support of the Norwegian Embassy, the German Embassy, the European Union Sivil Düşün Programme, the Embassy of Denmark, the Embassy of Finland, the French Cultural Center, the Embassy of the United Kingdom, the Embassy of the Netherlands, the Embassy of Canada and Movies That Matter.

Under the Rainbow

Here QueerFest announces the programme of its most popular section “Under the Rainbow”  which brings together critically acclaimed feature films.  The films to be shown this year are: Corpo Electrico (2017), Terror Nullius (2018), Malila: A Farewell Flower( 2017), Retablo (2017) and Rafiki (2018).

Corpo Electrico is an award-winning production and a highlight of Brazilian queer cinema. The realist film, which collected awards at various festivals including Queer Lisboa, portrays the story of a group of young people in their daily lives as they work in a textile factory. In the film, Elias starts working in a textile factory in São Paulo. As the workload increases with the upcoming holiday season, Elias begins to enter new social circles and encounters new emotions and experiences.

After the screening of the film, there will be a panel with the participation of a migrant LGBTI + textile worker from Denizli. The mechanisms of discrimination against LGBTI + individuals in such a labor-intensive sector will be discussed.

Terror Nullius takes its name from the phrase terra nullius which means “land without an owner”. The film is a noteworthy example of a successful queer mashup film both due to its content and style. Filmed in Sydney in 2002 and produced by a two-person art collective Soda Jerk, which produces works at the intersection of documentary and speculative fiction genres.  Terror Nulliusde constructs Australian cinema through its story taking place on the set of the production of “Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior”. The film is an eye opening criticism of colonialism and patriarchy.

Malila: A Farewell Flower was Thailand’s Oscar nomination for this year. The film deserves special attention due to its impressive cinematography and sober narrative.  Malila tells the story of Shane who is struggling with a terminal disease. The film narrates Shane’s union with their ex lover through the decorative art of “Bai Siri”, symbolizing the fragility of life and the inevitability of death. Director Anucha Boonyawatana’s first feature film Onthakan (2015) was also screened at the 5th Quer Fest.

Retablo was screened at the “Generation Films” selection of 2018 Berlinale Festival. The film takes its title from the art of “retablo” which illustrates religious stories with a technique bringing together sculpting and painting. Fourteen year old Segundo wants to become an esteemed “retablo” master just like their father and continue the family tradition. How will Segundo deal with the confrontation when their father’s secret life is revealed? Will Segundo join the mob hatred against their father, is there another way possible? The film was very well received by last year’s Berlinale audience and got the TEDDY award.

Rafiki is another exciting new production to greet the audience in the Under the Rainbow section of the festival. Rafiki was premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. It tells the story of two young women whose friendship turns into love, amidst the political differences of their families. The film was banned in Kenya, its country of production on the premises that it promoted homosexuality.

Queer Documentaries

The following films will be shown in Queer Documentaries section of the festival:

No Democracy Here, 2017, Dykes, Camera, Action!, 2018, Intersex (Entre Deux Sexes, 2017), A Deal with the Universe, 2018, Kaliarnta, 2015, Lunadigas or ‘Concerning Childfree Women’, 2016, Love, Scott, 2018, Bixa Travesty, 2018

Performance artist and activist Liad Hussein Kantorowicz uses BDSM as an allegory to question the mechanisms of democracy in No Democracy Here. As a dominatrix Liad Hussein Kantorowicz brings their right-wing obedient submissive “slaves” with dog collars under strict orders to vote for a party the “slaves” totally oppose (of course it’s consensual).

Dykes, Camera, Action! is about the cinema of queer woman coloring the silver screen. The focus is on the movement which out of the intersection of the Stonewall movement, activism, feminism, queer cinema and experimental cinema. Included in the film are many pioneer names such as Barbara Hammer and Cheryl Dunye.

Intersex, which attracted a lot of attention at Queer Lisboa, is an activism film telling the story of Vincent Guillot who after discovering themself to be intersex tries to meet with other intersex people. In the documentary, an illustrator, Ins A. Kromminga joins Vincent’s journey and the couple tell a story through personal experiences, feelings, narratives and Ins’s anime works. The film also witnesses the wedding of Vincent and their girlfriend, bringing together the intersex community. After the screening of the film on January 27th at the Tasarım Atölyesi Kadıköy, Vincent Guillot, Ins A Kromminga and the activist Şerife Yurtseven will come together for the panel “X: Transnational Intersex Activism” at Kıraathane Istanbul Edebiyat Evi.

Jason Baker is a trans director who had been a programmer for BFI Flare and had their short films screened in many festivals. A Deal with the Universe, Baker’s first feature film, is an autobiographical work comprised of Baker’s personal archives. The documentary premiered at BFI Flare and is a special work that delivers the story of how Jason became a parent through intimate and personal questioning. The film takes the viewer through debates on gender and new parenting.

Kaliarnta, will be shown in memory of the LGBTI + activist Zak Kostopoulos, who was murdered in a mob lynching in Athens. The documentary focuses on the Greek queer slang known as Kaliarnta. The film will be screened on January 25 at the Kıraathane Istanbul Edebiyat Evi, followed by a talk with the director Paola Revenioti.

Another interesting feature of the selection is a documentary Lunadigas or ‘Concerning Childfree Women, where the directors share their own stories as they discover the stories of women from a variety of different backgrounds, who can not or do not want to have children. After the screening of the film on 25th January at Tasarım Atölyesi Kadıköy, directors Nicoletta Nesler and Marilisa Piga and producer Susi Monzali will be with the audience for the question and answer event. After the screening of the film at Feminist Mekan on January 26th, the filmmakers and the producer will be with the audience again for the question-answer event. The same event will also host a forum titled Concerning Childfreeness with the participation of the film crew.

Love, Scott made its festival debut as the opening film at BFI Flare. Love Scott, recounts Scot Jones’s experiences and how they held onto life with the help of music for three years after being subjected to a traumatic hate crime. Scot’s story is a strong inspiring documentary as they renew their hope for life with the help of a choir. Scott Jones will be in Istanbul for the opening of KuirFest. Farsi subtitles will be available for this film.

Bixa Travesty won the TEDDY Best Documentary Award at the Berlin Film Festival. Witness the striking personality and dizzying world of Linn da Quebrada, a black trans performer and activist from the favelas of São Paulo. We recommend you not to miss the opportunity to meet with Quebrada who describes themself as a “gender terrorist”. Quebrada uses art and nudity as a radical tool to rebel against the heteronormative order.

Queer Series

KuirFest gives a special importance to online series as a way of opening a free expression field to LGBTI  stories. The festivals program has included the Queer Series for three years. This year Mixed Messages, 2017 will be screened. The mini-series depicting a lesbian Londoner’s dating adventures in Berlin’s queer environments conveys the unsuccessful and sometimes unfortunate experiences of its hero who eventually realizes that they are looking for love in the wrong places.


Introducing the history of cinema from the past to the present day, Pink Life QueerFest brings together queer productions and the festival audience by hosting the film Tongues Untied, 1989 in the ‘cULT’ section as we celebrate the festivals 30th anniversary this year. The film, which will be shown in its restored copy, is one of the most important examples of the performative documentary genre. Tongues Untied has a very special place in film history for its work in opening space for black, gay and HIV positive people to talk on their own behalf. Farsi subtitles by the renowned academic and translator, Fahri Öz, will be available for the film.

In previous years, KuirFest has given publicity to films from the black queer movement. Again this year, the  restored version of Buddies 1985 will be screened in the ‘cULT’ section. Buddies has a special place in cinema history in terms of  breaking down the prejudices about HIV positive people.


Now it’s time for one of the most special sections of the festival ‘Ğ’. Bringing together queer productions and films about the LGBTİ+ movement with The Night, Melek and Our Children (1994). The Atıf Yılmaz directed cult film will be shown in this section as it is currently celebrating its 25th anniversary. The Night, Melek and Our Children is a must see film as it is one of the first films where we heard lubunca (Turkish queer slang) in Turkey cinema and includes real scenes of 1990s queer life. After the screening of the film on January 26 at Fransız Kültür Merkezi, poet and writer Yıldırım Türker, Deniz Türkali (an actress involved in the film) and Metin Akdemir (the director of the film) will discusses female sexuality and censorship in the conversation entitled ‘Scenes that can not be shot’.


Pink Life gives space for short films that contribute to the queering of cinema. Within the scope of the festival program, a total of seven short films will be shown this year and on this topic QueerFest has cooperated with programmers from around the world just like every other year.

London based “Fringe! Queer Arts Festival” prepared the section entitled Fringe! Shorts Selection: You came in Like a Wrecking Ball. The section features innovative productions that explore the boundaries of cinematic expression. After the screening held on January 25 at Kıraathane Istanbul Edebiyat Evi, Fringe! Queer Film & Art Festival programmer Muffin Hix will meet with the audience at a question-answer event.

 Mix Copenhagen Nordic Lights Short Selection by Mix Copenhagen LGBT Film Festival is prepared for this year’s QueerFest and features themes of body and prejudice. Andrea Coroma programmer of Mix Copenhagen LGBT Film Festival who prepared the selection will meet with the audience at question-answer event after the screening at the Tasarım Atölyesi Kadikoy on January 25th.

Theresa Health, founder of Wotever DIY Film Festival, shares the selection of shorts at the intersection of queerness and Dis/ability with the title An Unashamed Claim to Beauty: Short Films at the Intersection of Queerness and Dis/ability. Following the screening of the selection at Tasarım Atölyesi Kadikoy, Health will join the question- answer event.

The films in the short selection titled Revolting Bodies by the QueerFest program will also challenge the assumptions and demands placed on our body perception by the hegemonic system. Another QueerFest short selection entitled  queerdom of memories will bring together films that question personal and collective memory.

There are frame breaking productions in the Masculinities! Shorts Selection. Thomas Hakim, the director of Still Waiting will meet the QueerFest audience at a question-answer event. Still Waiting is a special story on the experiences, dreams and desires of Anton after Alexandre’s death.

Shorts from Turkey has a special place in the festival again this year. Films, Rüya by Sinan Göknur, A Bike Story by Umut Erdem, Archive of Feelings: Radical Compassion by Gizem Aksu, Room Ex by Demhat Aksoy, Another Matter by Bahar Kılıç Adilçe and Hulusi Nusih Tütüncü, Tanışma by Öykü Aytulun and the project Films for Change by Ezgi Şahin, Demhat Aksoy, Uzay Nagodre and Umut Erdem will be screened in the scope of the selection.


The Festival program includes panels, talks, round table discussions and a performance workshop:

ROUNDTABLE: Queer Performance: Chances/Challenges/Chances

January 25, 18.00, Dramaqueer

The conceptual framework of Tanz im August comes to QueerFest with Brenda Dixon-Gottchild’s permission and the moderation of Gizem Aksu. Brenda Dixon-Gottchild presents a conceptual framework for three women choreographers from three different continents. In this discussion, we will focus on chance, conflict and transformation that lie in the interaction of the political, economical and socio-cultural aspects within the personal histories of the artists. The roundtable participants include Liad Hussein Kantorowics, with her film There Is No Democracy Here screening in the Queer Documentaries category, Maria Dolores from Athens Queer Arts Museum, Hülya Dolaş from Dramaqueer and performance artist Leman Sevda Darıcıoğlu.


January 25, 19.15, Kıraathane Istanbul Edebiyat Evi

A conversation with queer textile workers, titled “Queer Mensucat Inc.: Queer Workers in Textile Speak”, will follow the screening of the film Electric Body in the Under the Rainbow category.  In this talk, discrimination against LGBTI+ people working in the labor-intensive textile industry will be discussed.


January 26, 13.30-16.00

Artist Gizem Aksu’s solo performance YU, shown in many festivals, explores the body’s organic wisdom. Produced for the 4th Mardin Biennial, the installation, Shelter, Barricade, Nature, focuses on the absence of the body. To celebrate the multiplicities and the abundance of the body, they bring the object constructed for the installation Shelter, Barricade, Nature to this performance workshop, making it available to a queer context and performance artists. In this workshop, attendees will experience being performance researchers and experiment with performative propositions towards queer constructions of the body, movement and perception. Anyone open to performative experimentation can attend this workshop. Because of the limited number of space available, please send an email to [email protected] if you wish to attend. 


January 26, 14.15, Tasarım Atölyesi Kadikoy

The panelists will point to how hate speech is not a regional but a universal problem by looking at examples from Canada, Turkey and Greece and by sharing experiences from their personal and professional lives. In this panel, you will hear from victims of hate crimes and their attorneys as they discuss how the way we use language may turn to hate speech and lead to hate crimes.

Pink Life LGBTT Solidarity Organization’s law consultant Emrah Şahin will moderate the panel. The panelists include lead actor Scott Jones in Dear Scott, lawyer Eren Keskin, Turkey’s first openly transgender lawyer candidate Efruz Kaya and Anna Apostotelli, an activist who has been part of queer and feminist groups in Athens for twenty years.


January 26, 17.45, Kıraathane Istanbul Edebiyat Evi

This panel will discuss intersex activism by looking at examples and experiences of intersex people from around the world, intersex gatherings that cross borders and the struggles intersex people face in different locales. Panelists include Ins A Kromminga from Germany, Vincent Guillot from France and Vreer Sirenu from Holland. Intersex activist, Şerife Yurtseven will be moderating the panel.


January 26, 19.15, Fransız Kültür Merkezi

Atıf Yılmaz’s film Night, Angel and our Queers will meet with QueerFest audience in a special screening for the film’s 25th anniversary. Atıf Yılmaz became known as a director of women’s films in Turkish cinema and of movies that created subtle unease. The film Night, Angel and our Queers left its mark during the director’s time.

After the screening of Night, Angel and our Queers, the film’s screenplay writer Yıldırım Türker with “Angel”, Deniz Türkali with Scenes That Couldn’t Be Shot, a film about women sexuality in Turkish cinema, and Metin Akdemir will discuss queerness and sexuality in 80s and 90s Turkish cinema and the time period itself. Esma Akyel will moderate the panel.


January 26, 19.30, Feminist Mekan

The forum will take place after the film in the Queer Documentary series, Lunadigas or About Childless Women. The discussion will center on the experiences of women without children or women who choose not to have children.


January 26, 20.00, Kıraathane Istanbul Edebiyat Evi

After the screening of Liad Hussein Kantorowicz’s performance film, There is no Democracy Here, translator, editor, writer, poet researcher Gülkan Noir and Kantorowicz will have a multifaceted discussion about the political concepts in the film and how these intersect with erotic / pornographic issues and the political foundations of BDSM.


January 27, 15.00, Kıraathane Edebiyat Evi

How are the programs for queer festivals organized? What is given priority during the selection process? What sensitivities are taken into consideration? Queer festival programmers will talk about how festivals are organized in Europe and share their experiences on the organizing process. Esra Özban (QueerFest) will moderate the talk. The participants include Ricke Mericke (Queer Lisboa), Theresa Heath-Ellul (Wotever DIY Film Festival), Muffin Hix (Fringe! Queer Arts Festival) and Andrea Coloma (Mix Copenhagen).


January 27, 17.45, Kıraathane Edebiyat Evi

This forum will bring together the directors and their teams with queer filmmakers, after the screening Shorts from Turkey, to discuss issues on the conditions and challenges of film production, screening and distribution in Turkey. We invite all those who make or want to make queer cinema in Turkey to this forum.

Share your Festival memories with the hash tags #ÇokGüzelsinYasakMısın and #URPrettyRUBanned.

For more information:

[email protected]
















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