What to expect from 9th QueerFest?

Pink Life QueerFest says hello to its 9th year with an opening ceremony at Institut français on January 23 and an opening party at Babylon. The festival is full of empowering, eye-opening, enticing and exciting films as well as thought provoking discussions and workshops. Here is a short overview of what to expect this year:


Under the Rainbow

Once more, Under the Rainbow selection brings together a variety of queer experiences of aging, migration, youth, bisexuality and mysticism. The selection will feature TRANSFINITE, (2019), Chronic (2017), Greta (2019),  These Peculiar Days, (2019) and Tinta Bruta, (2018).

Queer Documentaries

The selection this year will initiate new discussiong in LGBTI+ public opinion in Turkey! Here is a list of the films featured:

Transitioning (2016), Shelter: Farewell to Eden (2019), Lemebel (2019), The Archivettes (2018), No Box for Me. An Intersex Story (2018), I’m Moshanty. Do you love me?(2019)  Paternal Rites (2018)

Queer Series

Club Splendida (2019) will be the guest of the Queer Series selection this year.


Pink Life QueerFest proudly presents My Beautifl Laundrette (1985) and The Celluloid Closet (1995)  under the cULT selection this year.

Short Selections

Seven short film selections will be featured this year at QueerFest:

Queer Shorts from Turkey will feature:

Kardelen Eren’s Örtünün Altı (Under The Blanket, 2019)

Özgür Can Taşcı’s Yıkımın Üstünde Dans (Dancing On The Ruins, 2019)

Kübra Bekmez’s Öteki (The Other, 2019),

Harun Güler’s 2740 Nolu Oda (Room 2740 – Shot on iPhone, 2019),

Volkan Güleryüz’s Iris (İris, 2019),


Ömer Tevfik Erten’s MisafirhaneBir Vardım Bir Yoktum (Guesthouse-Twice Upon a Time, 2019),

Gökçe Onur’s Akışkan (Fluid, 2019),

Nicolas Jakubiak’s Barbo (Barbo, 2019)

Şeyhmus Altun’s Zerreler (Fragments, 2019) filmleri yer alıyor.

The screenings on January 24 will be followed by a discussion.

IQMF Amsterdam Shorts Selection: IQMF Rising Stars will be at the QueerFest this year. The selection’s jury included Esra Özban of QueerFest last year. After the screening on January 24, curator Chris Belloni will be present to answer the audience questions.

Mezipatra Shorts Selection: Endangered Species is curated by the Mezipatra Queer Film Festival based in Czech Republic. The screening at Vault34 on January 25 will be followed by a Q&A with Pavel Bicek from the festival cew.

QueerFest has a shorts selection for every taste! Tariz Section aims to touch on the romantic hearts, Lavinia! ‘s title inspired by the early years of Lubunca, Queerness #Forever is here to tell us about aging and Koli Gazes Upon Kolis!  is all about desire and excitement.



January 25, 20:00, Institut français

Seçil Epik and  Sevcan Tiftik will discuss how to increase visibility through writing and the potentials which writing brings, following the documentary Lemebel .


January 26, 19:15, Vault34

A conversation on QTIPOC cinema with Marc David Jacobs  from Scottish Queer International Film Festival, following the screening of My Beautiful Laundrette.


January 25, 20:15, Feminist Mekan

Following the screening of Archivettes, a film on the lesbian bisexual feminist archive collective active since 1970’s, Lara Güney Özlen and Okay Gökmen will talk about LGBTI+ history and archiving.


January 24 Ocak, 19:00, SALT Galata

Following the screening of Kuir Belgeseller bölümünün dikkat çeken filmlerinden Paternal Rites, Nayuk (Nazlı Mayuk)  and Hilal Esmer will talk about the transformative potential of the survivors’ stories.


January 24, 20.00, Institut français

Trans Exclusive Radical Feminism (TERF) has become concerning for both the global trans movement and the LGBTI+ movement in Turkey. Following the screening of Transitioning, QueerFest will answer the transphobic discourses through the perspectives of diverse subjects. Activists Beren Azizi and Vanessa Lee Nic will participate in the discussions’ origins and bust all the arguments of this transphobic alliance.


January 24 18.00, Institut français

The talk will take place after the screening of Queer Shorts from Turkey.

Bulut B.Sezer and Nihal Albayrak will talk about their experiences as queer actors on a heteronormative stage and the struggle that ensued.


January 25, 15.00, SPoD Office

This roundtable aims to bring non-binaries together and increase the visibility of non-binary experiences by sharing and listening the stories.



January 25-26, Altyazı Sinema Derneği

This workshop aims to provide insights on how the sound accompanies and enriches the visual narrative. The participants will record, edit and manipulate their own sounds on Ableton Live software for the visual material of their own choosing. The facilitator is Gizem Oruç.


January 25-26  14.00-17.00, The Circle

The participants of this workshop are encouraged to bend and disrupt the heteronormativity by queering the cis-hetero roles and their performances in fron of the camera. The facilitator of the workshop is actor Ayça Damgacı.


January 25 10.30-17.30, Altyazı Sinema Derneği

The workshop focuses on many aspects of documentary making, such as development, production, post-production with instructions on funding, distribution and narrative. The facilitators are Metin Akdemir, Rüzgar Buşki, Burcu Melekoğlu and Vuslat Karan.


Note: Please note that the films will have Turkish subtitles and the workshops do not have instruction in English. This is a summary to inform our English-speaking audiences and the screenings, events or workshops in this list might not be suitable for non-Turkish speaking audiences.

What’s on 9th QueerFest ? The schedule is here!


QueerFest Strikes Again: What we know so far about 9th Pink Life QueerFest

9th Pink Life QueerFest is just around the corner. The festival will take place in three venues around Taksim: Vault34, the French Cultural Center and Kıraathane. The festival is titled “Döneriz Elbet” (“We’ll surely be back”) this year, emphasizing the fact that the festival is here to stay.
The opening party will be at Babylon Bomontiada, featuring the 80’s film star and singer Banu Alkan (“The Aphrodite”). The party will also feature Zahter, Şevval Kılıç, Özgür Kaktüs & Asîde & Deus ex Machina as well as Dudakların Cengi, the lipsync battle, drag show which has long since taken over queer night life in Istanbul. Attendees are expected to wear their Sunday best to pose for the press on the red carpet.
The second party announced will be on January 25 at Anahit Sahne, featuring DJs Üzüm Derin Solak, Elif KK and Q-Bra and will not be suitable for the faint of heart or the vanilla: The attendants are expected to don their whips, handcuffs and paint the night into “50 shades of queer”!
QueerFest has been aiming to be more accessible for audiences with disabilities. As a part of these efforts, the festival organizers announced that there will be sign language translation in all interactive events of the Istanbul festival. The organizers also note that they will continue their efforts to make the festival more accessible next year.

PinkLife QueerFest launches LGBTI+ Film Platform ! #YouRSoPrettyRUOnline

Source: “PinkLife QueerFest launches LGBTI+ Film Platform!” (“LGBTİ+ Film Platformu açıldı!), Pink Life,, July 6,2019.

Pink Life QueerFest has been a pioneer in creating spaces of self-expression for the LGBTI+ rights movement since 2011, through panels, discussions, workshops and exhibitions. QueerFest marks the end of its eight anniversary with the launch of an LGBTI+ Film Platform. The platform will provide international LGBTI+ productions with Turkish subtitles to its audience. 

The short film titled “T” (2016) was released for online access during the hashtag campaign #LGBTIFilmsShallNotBeBanned and received a lot of attention, leading the festival organizers to bring together LGBTI+ themed films in an online platform. 

The platform will initially be introducing 40 films with Turkish subtitles, the archives will grow in time and will eventually have English and Farsi subtitle options. The platform will host feature films and short films of diverse genres, allowing audiences to access many films through a single source. The film archive is available on the QueerFest website and will be available for public screenings. 

 Click this link for LGBTI+ Film Platform.



Trans Guest* House, a social awareness project


Trans Guest* House project will be launched on June 18-22, 2019 with a photography exhibition, stories and memories of the trans women and men’s lives, with the aim to increase awareness.

The project is directed by Kübra Uzun and has three components: A photo book titled “Guest*House”, a video titled “Once Upon A Time” and the exhibition titled “1+1: We are strong together!”.  

The photobook “Guest*House” is supported by the Consulate General of the Netherlands Istanbul, introducing photos taken by Ömer Tevfik Erten at the Trans Guesthouse. The guest house was opened by the Istanbul LGBTT Solidarity Association in 2013 for trans individuals who have no place to stay and were subjected to violence. The book includes a magical realist story titled ‘Unravelling A Riddle’ written by Dutch-Turkish author Defne Çizakça, in the memory of Hande Kader, the trans woman activist whose burnt body was found in the woods near Istanbul.  The book is designed by Merve Deniz.


The video titled “Once Upon A Time” will be screened at the Consulate General of the Netherlands Istanbul. The video is prepared in the memory of Çingene Gül, a trans woman murdered in her house in Istanbul in 2014. It gives us a peek at the guests of the guest house’s search for safe space and the struggle for the sustainability of the guest house.

The exhibition titled “1+1: We are strong together!” will be hosted by Boysan’s House, a space opened in the memory of LGBTI+ activist Boysan Yakar who passed away in a car accident. Upon Ömer Tevfik Erten’s call the exhibition brings together a new generation of photographers in Turkey . Lamarts is the print sponsor of the exhibition and presents the selections of MAKHism, Dilek Yaman, Damla Atak, Nazlı Yıldırım, Şener Yılmaz Aslan, Ateş Alpar and Ömer Tevfik Erten.


The exhibition will be launched on June 18, 19:00. A panel titled “Art and Activism” will take place at Boysan’s House with the participation of art theoretician Ezgi Bakçay and Prof. Seçkin Tercan.

Photographers who work or would like to work in the field of gender studies are invited to come together on June 20, 18:00 and participate with the exhibited artists.

All events are free of charge and open to the public.


Not Your Turkish Delight! A compilation against hate and violence

“Not Your Turkish Delight!” exclaims the title of a compilation of tracks from independent artists of alternative music scene of Turkey. The compilation aims to bring together queer, LGBTI+ and female artists to stand against sexual violence and discrimination. Its revenues will be donated to two shelters “Transevi” in Istanbul and “Yaşamevi” in Urfa.The group of artists who made the compilation happen, plan to continue to show solidarity against the sexism, transphobia, homophobia and misogyny which have intensified in Turkey due to growing impunity of hate crime. The first 300 copies of the compilation have been on sale in live concerts and are now sold out. LGBTI News Turkey interviewed Hatice (Soft Rains of April) and Aybike (Reptilians from Andromeda) to learn more about the creation process as well as future plans. The crew is currently looking for ways to distribute the compilation abroad, to extend the solidarity globally. We are excited to see such creative and efficient ways of mobilizing solidarity against hatred and violence and hope to see sequels to this compilation as well as live performances! If you would like to help the group reach a bigger audience abroad and generate more revenues for donations, please do not hesitate to contact them through their facebook page. You can listen to Felix Drake’s interview with some of the crew members and listen to some of the songs in this episode of “Turkish Delights”, aired on Noods Radio.

– How was the production process with the artists who supported the album with their tracks? How did you choose the tracks, were there any that were recorded exclusively for this album?


Aybike: The band “The Hollow Dolly” was born out of this compilation, Neon Jisatsu published their first songs in this compilation. Jtamul, Bewitched As Dark, Soft Rains Of April, Reptilians From Andromeda and Cansu Turgut’s songs were recorded for this compilation but as the other bands chose their own tracks for the compilation, I can say that they were meant to be in this compilation regardless of when they were written.

Hatice: The entire album was exciting but the tracks made for this album were as exciting as the ones submitted for the compilation. After Aybike got in touch with the musicians, she passed the tracks to me and I made a tracklist based on the tone, flow and the mood. I’m hoping the friends who submitted the songs and the listeners are happy with this order.  It was a very exciting experience for me to take place in this compilation and its construction.

– How did you come up with the idea for this compilation?

Aybike: Most of us know each other or are friends, both the compilers and the artists in the compilation. The idea for a compilation was growing in us for a while, based on the relationship we formed through sharing the negative things that happened to us or that we heard in our common spaces. It came about naturally.

Hatice: As every individual who tries to live and produce in this society, you come to the point of saying “Enough” rather easily, as you get smashed each time you take the road less traveled. The need to do something, the rage bottled up within and the cry for justice somehow directs you to a path. It is imperative that we continue to do what we know best, in order to beat back what we live through and what we witness. What we know best is music… It is our equipment, our shield, our battle axe,  and our healing power too.


– How do you see the approach towards the issues and identities of women and LGBTI+ individuals in the independent music scene?

Aybike: Although the independent music scene looks like a community of listeners and performers standing aside gender norms, there is of course a gender inequality; because even though people act like they are against it, you can still hear them talk behind you, saying “Is this a girl or a boy?”, “Look at that”, “Tsk tsk tsk”, “I thought this one was gacıvari*”. Their faces, actions and behaviours remind you that all these labels attached to us in young age.

There are those who are indeed sincere about their intention to change gender inequality related problems and there are those who live as if these values [of being anti-discrimination] do not exist and they play the game of political correctness to avoid being mob lynched and looking bad when the women, trans individuals and queers raise their voices around the world. I can say that the discussion of these issues have increased over the last year. Both the bands and the music collectives are trying to do something.

Hatice: Aybike is quite right. For a long while there have been many collectives, initiatives, crews and people trying to be sensitive about these issues in the music sector. However, I still hope you can hear what non-male roadies, sound engineers, field managers and backstage attendants have gone through. Degendering of the sector is crucial, and in my opinion it is getting better too, thanks to the labourers of the music sector and musicians. But it is important to unite and form a sustainable, determined, unmonopolized, evolving and multiplying stance at this point. As it is hard to talk about a literally independent music world, we often witness that people look the other way just because it’s their friend, show nepotism and act like nothing happened or they even blame the victim. We can start changing things by calling things what they are.

–  Due to the current political climate, we often fall into a pit of pessimism. Beautiful collaborations such as this compilation gives us hope. How do you battle against pessimism or how do you transform it?

Aybike: You can struggle against it by not falling for the manipulation that tries to convince you that you are alone and by not being afraid…

Hatice: This is precisely how we battle against it, by standing together. Things haven’t turned sour recently, the state has always been cruel in this country, life has always been hard. The monster has always been there, even if it has taken the guise of deceitful conservatism over the last 15 years. The way to struggle against it is to accept that this is not new nor transient and to continue to be productive. It is not so difficult, it is just an idea, 4-5 people and 20 valuable musicians who will share their music with us and 4 people to burn the CDs in one evening and then onwards to distributing them… 300 CDs were sold out in just 3 months, all of the revenues went straight to the associations. Now we are trying to render this sustainable and continue to work.


– How did you cover the cost of the album?

Aybike: Hatice, Bikem, Oya, me, Petek and Aydan split the cost among ourselves.

Hatice: We are of course trying to figure out how we can make it financially sustainable for future albums, concerts, panels and projects. None of us have infinite resources, we merely took initiative but for the future it is crucial that we maintain continuity, we don’t want it to remain a one-time thing.

– The revenues will go to Transevi and Yaşamevi, how are the sales going? Can our foreign readers support you? Would you consider selling the album on a digital platform?

Hatice: 300 copies of the first compilation are almost sold out, around 10 copies have left. We are having difficulty with payment from foreign countries due to PayPal** but we are currently looking for a solution. When we come up with a solution, we will immediately make 300 more copies, and plan for a new compilation, merch and new projects which will be accessible abroad.

How is the feedback? Would you consider to do similar projects?

Hatice: The sustainability of this project is crucial. We decided to support Transevi and Yaşamevi for the first 300 copies, we dream of increasing the number of centers we support in the future. Not your Turkish Delight must develop in different genres too, it must grow, evolve, transform and continue. This is our greatest dream.  

What can you tell our readers about being woman, queer or trans in the independent music scene in Turkey?

Hatice: It’s not so different from being a woman, queer or trans in the street, at home, school or workplace. The problems are always similar because the culprit is the same. Patriarchy, homophobia, transphobia and sexism reigns all domains of our life, especially the legal system.  I could say things are bit rougher in the music scene but actually all types of violence is rough. We tried to do this through music as our first step, but of course we also plan to organize panels, workshops and events where we can talk about the discrimination and violence within the music sector.  In every field, we should start with ourselves and accept that there is a problem, and start from the people around us in trying to correct the wrong attitudes, discourses and practices, it is important to have a determined stance and continue producing in such manner. We can think more about “how”.

– Our last question is for you to give some inspiration. Some of our readers might have similar projects in mind, what would you recommend for them?

Hatice: Please realize your projects, it is precious to contribute from different branches. They can get in touch with collectives and crews like us, unfortunately there are not so many options for pinpointing a problem and moving towards a solution. It is more than enough if we can co-create, get in touch with each other and continue our journey together, each starting with one step and continuing without giving up or stopping when faced with barriers. One of our dreams is to establish a network which brings together many projects, therefore we progress by making use of the experiences and directions our friends share with us. I recommend the readers to talk, to question, there are so many people who want to do something, we are always here to support and we would love to.  


*Translator’s Note: gacıvari means feminine in lubunca, the queer slang in Turkish.

**Translator’s Note: PayPal does not operate in Turkey as their license was denied by BDDK, the local authority on banking and finance, in 2016.


QueerFest Film Festival in Cyprus

Pink Life QueerFest is an organization which creates a space for artistic expression in the context of LGBTI+ rights; brings together various art forms including cinema, performance, music and video; and organizes empowering panels, discussions, workshops, screenings and presentations.
Pink Life QueerFest is considered as a “social issues festival” in which social issues are part of the agenda and/or socially underrepresented groups are provided with a platform. The organization, which began in Ankara in 2011, uses art as a tool for activism; facilitation; documentation; empowerment; inspiration; and transformation.
As the only LGBTI+ themed art festival in Turkey, QueerFest was held in many cities around Turkey in a short period of time and was then organized in the UK, Germany, Sweden and Greece.
This year, QueerFest will also be organized in Cyprus and will start with an Opening Event on 14th May, Tuesday at 18:30 with a screening of “Gece, Melek ve Bizim Çocuklar” (The Night, Angel and Our Children). Besides the film screenings that will take place in Famagusta Castle Arcade on 16th May, Thursday, all activities will be held in Arabahmet Culture and Arts Centre.
All films are subtitled in English and Turkish.
Screenings are free of charge.
This event is organised with the support of the Grow Civic Programme financed by the European Union.

May 14, Tuesday 
Venue: Arabahmet Kültür & Sanat Evi
18:30 Opening Ceremony
19:15 Screening: The Night, Angel and Our Children
21:00 Discussion: The Night, Angel and Our Queers
May 15, Wednesday 
Venue: Arabahmet Kültür & Sanat Evi
19:00 Screening: Short Films at the Intersection of Queerness and Dis/ability
20:30 Screening: Hatewalk, 72′
21:45 Workshop: Sex Workers Rights

May 16, Thursday 
Venue: Famagusta Castle Arcade
19:00 Screening: Queerdom of Memories Shorts Selection
20:30 Our Memories, Our Histories

May 17, Friday 
Venue: Arabahmet Kültür & Sanat Evi
19:00 Screening: Queer Cyprus Special Shorts Selection
21:00 Screening: Her Story
For further information:…/queerfest-film-festival-cyprus/

*The schedule is taken from the organizer’s event page.