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Guest Post: What is Queer Film Culture’s Past and Present?

Guest Post: What is Queer Film Culture's Past and Present?

Queer film culture has a long
history, which directly links queer cinema, with its specific aesthetics and
politics, with the film festival as a community experience. 

The oldest LGBT/Q film festival started in San Francisco
in 1977. In the early years, LGBT/Q film festivals served as safe havens for
queers. They offered a counter-public space to come together and celebrate and
discuss LGBT/Q representation and art when no, or only negative, images were
available in the mainstream.

Since then, LGBT/Q film festivals have
proliferated. The 1980s saw the first wave of festivals emerging predominantly
in North America and Western Europe. 

The late 1980s brought about many changes:
the AIDS crisis spurred queer activism, while the fall of the Berlin wall marked
global political change with the crumbling of the Soviet bloc. During this time,
the New Queer Cinema was emerging. Since then, LGBT/Q film and media
representation has come a long way. The cross-over success of New Queer Cinema
paved the way for auteur careers and the development of a niche market. 

In the
1990s and 2000s the queer film festival scene grew exponentially (check
out this map
covering the historical spread), covering most regions of the globe, with about 260 active events on the queer film festival circuit today. LGBT/Q
representation seems to be ubiquitous now, at least in the West, reaching
mainstream audiences via multiplex cinemas, streaming platforms, cable network
series, etc. 

The queer film and festival landscape has seen vast changes in the
last quarter century. On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Hamburg International
Queer Film Festival
,
we want to assess
the status of queer film culture in the context of queer cinema and film festivals
today.

The two-day international conference
“Queer Film Culture: Queer Cinema and Film Festivals,” which will be hosted by the University of Hamburg and take place on October 14-15 during and in conjunction with the HIQFF (14-19 October 2014), will bring together a stellar cast of
international film and festival scholars and programmers. They will discuss
the current state of queer film culture: Considering the availability of queer
images, are queer film festivals still necessary? The vast number of active
festivals suggests they are. Then what are the tasks and functions that queer
film festivals serve for today’s queer film culture? What is shown at these
events? 

The buzz of recent arthouse releases, such as Weekend and Blue
Is the Warmest Color
, beckons the question: What is queer cinema today? Have
we reached a post-gay era of global art cinema or has a New Wave Queer Cinema arrived?

Two keynotes will frame the
conference and bring together the fields of film
festival studies
and queer cinema. Film
festival research pioneer Marijke de Valck from the University of Amsterdam will give a talk called “Film Festivals in Transition,” while the inventor of the seminal label “New Queer Cinema,” B. Ruby Rich, a professor of film and digital media at the University of California, Santa Cruz and editor of Film Quarterly, will discuss “The New Queer Cinema: Back To The Future.” 

Three panels will approach queer film culture from various angles. In the
first, festival scholars will present current research on LGBT/Q film
festivals. In the second, festival programmers will discuss the current
tasks and challenges of LGBT/Q film festivals. In a third, film scholars
will assess current trends in queer cinema. In addition, filmmakers Maša Zia
Lenárdič and Anja Wutej will present their documentary Queer Artivism, and New Queer Cinema icon Cheryl
Dunye
will be a special guest
as a panel respondent.

Anyone interested in joining the
discussion is cordially invited to attend. The conference will be in English. Attendance
is free. Please register by October 10 at:
conference@queerfilmculture.org.

More information is available on the
HIQFF website.
 

Skadi Loist is the organizer of the
conference. She is a Hamburg-based Media Studies scholar, festival board member
and co-founder of the Film Festival Research Network.
 

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