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October 21, 2014
Monday, June 2, 2014

Sexual diversity is the name of the game

A scene from Xavier Dolan’s widely praised Tom at the Farm.
By Pablo Suárez
For the Herald

Asterisco, the first LGBTIQ film festival in Argentina, kicks off tomorrow in BA

“First of all, this is an international film festival. Some twenty countries are represented, so it’s a great opportunity to see cinema from other places and to know other realities, other forms of love and enjoyment, other lifestyles. Consider that Argentina — and most precisely Buenos Aires — are well known for their cinephile spirit. Moreover, we are at a time when the rights of sexual minorities have reached a very relevant status. So when Carlos Pisoni, the Undersecretary of the National Office for the Promotion of Human Rights, called me up with the idea of a film festival of sexual diversity, I started working on it immediately”, says Argentine filmmaker Albertina Carri (Los rubios, La rabia) as artistic director of Asterisco, the first LGBTIQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersexual, queer) film festival, co-programmed with film critics Fernando Martín Peña and Diego Trerotola, and organized by the Secretariat of Human Rights with the support of the INCAA, UNTREF, Canal Encuentro, the Ministry of Social Development and the Ministry of Culture.

Not that many years ago, such an intensely political and thought-provoking film festival wouldn’t have been an easy task to pull off. But these last ten years saw a significant cultural change, with the Same Sex Marriage and Gender Identity laws at the top of the list. And since visibility is always a must when it comes to diversity, cinema is a great ally in exposing what the joys and tribulations of the LGBTIQ community are, here and abroad. This way, awareness can be raised on an ongoing basis.

One of the distinctive traits of the festival Asterisco, which kicks off tomorrow and runs through June 8, is that it features first-rate films — both in terms of content and aesthetics, something quite unusual in festivals of this kind. “A great danger of theme festivals is that, in order to represent certain key issues regarding the LGBTIQ community, they end up showing mediocre films just for their value as documents. Instead, we know that many issues were not included in the programme but we still have time to do so in the future. The important thing is that viewers see movies with high cinematic quality,” Carri told the Herald.

Some highlights of the International competition include Age of Consent, a US-UK documentary by Charles Lum and Todd Verow about the legendary and exclusively male London leather bar the Hoist, and also an account of the process of decriminalization of homosexuality in Great Britain; from Mexico, there’s Quebranto, by Roberto Fiesco, a documentary on Coral Bonelli and Lilia Ortega, a trans artist and her mother, and also a reflection on the many unfair hardships transvestites, transsexuals, and transgendered persons in Latin America have to endure.

There’s also the Argentine documentary High Heels on the Mud, by Rolando Pardo, which tells the story of six transvestites of indigenous ancestry who live in their communities in the province of Salta; the US fiction film Test, by Chris Mason Johnson, the story of two dancers as well as celebration of sex when, back in 1985, the gay community of San Francisco faced the ominous threat of AIDS; and Unfriend, a fiction film from the Philippines, by Joselito Altarejos, a story of lost (and teenage) love within the universe of Facebook.

La piel que habito (The Skin I Live In), the largest and most celebratory non-competitive section includes assorted features such as Hawaii, by Argentine filmmaker Marco Berger, a story of erotic desire where the notion of opposites attract takes centre stage; I Am Divine, by US filmmaker Jeffrey Schwartz, a documentary on the famous, exceptional drag queen Divine, the star of indie director John Water’s films, and an indelible icon of the queer community.

Moreover, there’s the Argentine fiction film The Night of the Wolf, by Diego Schipani and co-written with Santiago Giralt, the story of a 25-year-old gay man dumped by his boyfriend and who, unemployed and homeless, goes for street cruising and wanders through night clubs, prostitution spots, giving into casual sex.

From Canada’s prodigy-filmmaker Xavier Dolan comes Tom at the Farm, the story of a mournful young man who meets his lover’s family who live in a farm, unaware of their son’s sexual orientation — to top it all, they’re homophobic.

When and where

From June 3 to June 8.

Gaumont movie theatre (Ave. Rivadavia 1635)

Leonardo Favio Auditorium — Library of Congress (Alsina 1835)

Escuela Nacional de Experimentación y Realización Cinematográfica (Moreno 1199)

BAMA Cine Arte (Ave. Presidente Roque Sáenz Peña 1150-1156)

MALBA Museum (Figueroa Alcorta 3415)

@pablsuarez

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