02/11/2021 | Writer: Selma Koçak

Pink Life QueerFest, which celebrated its 10th anniversary in the past couple of weeks, met the audiences in Ankara and İstanbul with film screenings, conversations and workshops.

What happened at 10th Pink Life QueerFest? Kaos GL - News Portal for LGBTI+

QueerFest, offering hundreds of queer experiences and conditions from Turkey and all over the world via film screenings, conversations and workshops, was organized in Ankara on 23rd-26th September and on 30th September- 3rd October in İstanbul for the 10th time.

First stage of the festival started in Ankara

After the opening reception and private view for Shorts from Turkey, 28 films were screened, 5 conversations and 1 workshop were held on in the context of the festival program, which rang up the curtain with the hashtag #Gönlüm10dadır (My heart belongs to them / to ten) at Goethe-Institute in Ankara.  

Following the movies Scenes I Imagine (2020) and Patrida (2021) shown under Soft G section which is composed of queer productions from Turkey, interviews made with the directors of the films respectively Metin Akdemir, Ayça Damgacı and Tümay Göktepe. 

Metin Akdemir: “I thought on ‘Is there a queer potential in these films?’”

Metin Akdemir, director of Scenes I Imagine told: “As our childhood corresponds with 80s’ and 90s’ the films take part in Scenes I Imagine have already been shown at TV everlasting. However, as soon as dealing with queer issues/positions, it is necessary to try to see them in a new light. The directors go around woman affairs at these films but I dwelled on implication/censorship. I was thinking on whether the censorship affected the stories of these films and my main aim was dwelling on ‘Is there a queer potential in these films?’ We can watch all films from this point of view. However, I realized that sticking to the question ‘How does Turkish cinema describe the relationship between women?’ gets nowhere. Just because this relationship is told through friendship and it is unable to exceed it. The women, in the films that take place in Scenes I Imagine are all just friends and unlikely to be lovers. There is always a man somewhere in the films and the women become friends as a result of their relationship with this man.” at the interview after the film.

Ayça Damgacı: “Learning the deportation story of my father became an energizer”

Director and actress Ayça Damgacı, remunerated with 2nd Zeliş Deniz Queer Cinema Award, last year, met with the audiences after watching Patrida, she directed with Tümay Göktepe.. Emphasizing that it was the first time to watch the film with audiences and it made them feel good to be able to see their reactions Ayça Damgacı said “This was a very special screening and taking part at QueerFest is priceless for us.”  She talked about the filmmaking process and she underlined that the film was able to be made thanks to the support of Eurasia Doc. Damgacı continued: “Learning the deportation story of my father became an energizer for us. It was the light-bulb moment for me about the miscommunication, anger and strange nonexistence of my father, I began to see the light. Although you are an immigrant and you were deported you are holding on to the flag and ideology of the country, it sounded very contradictory to me. I thought that it could set sail for an inclusive story from the point of representation, indeed.”

3rd Zeliş Deniz Cinema Award found the owner

3rd Zeliş Deniz Cinema Award was given to Metin Akdemir within the scope of 10th Pink Life QueerFest, at the opening reception in Ankara. Actress and director Ayça Damgacı offered the award up to Akdemir.

Having taken the award Akdemir said  “Zeliş was also one of my friends and so glad to know her. Therefore this award in the name of her, is very affectional and priceless for me. It is not easy to produce something at the field of queer cinema so visibility of our products and being awarded is very motivational and it increases our passion for cinema. It was also enjoyable to receive and share this award in front of our community. Thank you.”

The award, which aims to strengthen the queer cinema, to protect the history of it, stand with those who contributed to queer cinema and to be able to say “We have both pain and the cure” just like Zeliş Deniz, had been given to Ayça Damgacı last year.

Voice of K Workshop in Ankara and İstanbul

Podcast Channel.Voice of K (Voices of Women and Queers)  which focuses on women and queer stories, held on a listening / sharing and podcast idea development workshop on one of the sound theater play called “Kırık Bir Jilet Parçası” (A Piece of a Broken Razor) within the context of 10th Pink Life QueerFest. The workshop was held interactively with the participants both in Ankara and in İstanbul.  Having listened the theater play, the impressions were shared about it and the participants told their personal experiences at the workshop which was coordinated by Beril Sarıaltun, Duygu Dalyanoğlu and Nihal Albayrak from Voice of K team.

Sirkaf Sirkaf Party in Ankara

QueerFest also organized parties besides the film screenings at its’ 10th anniversary.

Big shot from İstanbul entertainment industry Üzüm Derin Solak, a big shot from İstanbul entertainment industry, Samy Winehouse and DJ Q-bra performed at the “Sirkaf Sirkaf” party which was held at Haymatlos Mekan on 24th September in Ankara with broad participation. Approximately 500 people enjoyed at the party.

QueerFest is in İstanbul for the 10th time

Pink Life QueerFest continued in İstanbul between the dates 30th September and 3rd October at French Cultural Center, Kıraathane and Feminist Mekan. 750 people saw the films screened.

Director Monika Treut was at the 10th Pink Life QueerFest

QueerFest hosted gladly Monika Treut, director of the films named Gendernaut (1999) and Genderation (2021) this year. Following the film screenings interviews with the director were held at French Cultural Center and Feminist Mekan.

Treut: “Producing something on trans history is not a high-frequency affair”

At the interview moderated by Zeynep Dişbudak, Monica Treut told: “I made the film Gendernaut in San Francisco, 20 years ago. I was working with trans at that period and everything developed organically. I met lots of trans living there. They actually wanted this movie to be shot. Trans people were laughed out of court in USA, in 90s’. They were considered as a monster/menace. You can see some characters from Gendernaut also in Genderation. There are also some distinctions when we compare them. For instance, Steford was not clear on gender identity in the first film. He was taking hormonotherapy but he stopped taking it. He was looking a bit androgenic. However, in the second film, he seems really determined. As for the reason I made a sequel, I was always asked ‘What do these people do now?’ at the fests and screenings I have attended. I have heard this question so much and I decided to make a sequel to this movie.”

Reminding the isolated lives of trans people Treut said: “Thinking about or producing something on trans history is not a high-frequency affair. Being able to make a sequel with the same characters was a gift that was conferred upon me by them. In my opinion, we have to record the history of trans because much what goes out of the window in time. That is why it’s essential for me to have shot the sequel.”

QueerFest hosted director Lyle Kash

Lyle Kash, director of Death and Bowling (2021) in which Turkish artist Denise Turkan also acted a part, came to QueerFest. Death and Bowling is one of the films screened at Under the Rainbow section and it was given the QueerFest Special Audience Award. Following the film screening, Lyle Kash met the audience.

As the Pink Life QueerFest focuses on queer and trans filmmaking in its 10th year, Lyle Kash, American trans producer, director and founder of T4T, Ekin Çalışır, documentary film director, producer and founder of a transfeminist film collective to empower women and trans men in the field of cinema and Aslıhan Örün, a Turkey-based activist and filmmaker discussed the filmmaking process and the future of queer and trans cinema at QT Film Production Co. Ltd forum.

Lyle Kash: “I have screened Death and Bowling for the first time at QueerFest out of America”

Lyle Kash, Ekin Çalışır and Aslıhan Örün were asked the question “How do you describe a queer production?” at the QT Film Production Co. Ltd. forum. Ekin Çalışır answered the question: “As I make mainly documentaries I care about working with queer or LGBTI+ characters. The production should also be queer-friendly and correspond to feminist perspective. It is necessary to create a queer production in order to provide a comfortable area for working and forward the right message to the audiences.” Lyle Kash, director of Death and Bowling, also talked about the queer production process: “Two main factors occur to me speaking of queer productions. The answer of the question ‘How do you describe a queer production?’ may be a film made by queer and trans people or if it was made for queer or trans audience, it may be considered as a queer production. Either the film itself may just deal with queer or feminist questions. There may be films / productions challenging against the power relations that seeped into the society and throwing it in our faces. A film questioning the queer relations and informing us about the family structure or daily lives of queers may be considered as queer production.  However, in my estimation it is not must. Something that leads us to think or feel that it was made from a queer perspective may be enough. I have screened Death and Bowling for the first time at QueerFest out of America. If I am asked the question ‘Was it made within the feminist perspective?’ It is really an expensive question. The best part of the film crew is comprised of trans people. However, as the budget was very low I had to pay them less than the minimum wage in the USA. At this point does it correspond with feminist principles? If I had made the film in accordance with feminist principles I should have paid their dues. Therefore I was not able to perform a feminist perspective. I don’t think I should not have made the film but still, these question marks remain in my mind.”

Metin Akdemir, director of Scenes Imagine, Ayçe Damgacı and Tümay Göktepe, directors of Patrida met the audiences in İstanbul as well at İstanbul French Cultural Center after the film screenings.

Habibitch came to İstanbul

Dancer and activist Habibitch came to İstanbul for Vogue Workshop of 10th Pink Life QueerFest.

The participants learned the basics of the original form of voguing, which was born in the late 60’s in New-York City and is a dance form of the ballroom scene, created by and for the black and Latinx LGBT community in resistance against systemic racism, on the last day of festival (3rd October) at the Vogue Workshop which was performed with Habibitch and realized with limited enrollment in The Circle.

Critical Masculinity: Trans-Masculine Experiences Event was carried on

Critical Masculinity: Trans-Masculine Experiences event was carried on under the coordination of Esmi Göko Akyel, director barbie of QueerFest. Merih Beler, one of the speakers, shared their experience about coming out process: “As a queer, I was censored and suppressed high and low through all my life. As a result of this censorship and oppression, I have always had anxiety especially when I had to choose something. Choosing a name was one of the issues which set my anxiety off.”  Doğukan Karahan, the second speaker, talked on masculinity: “There is a segment to whom we try to express ourselves, demonstrate our existence and overcome the gender norms biases in our society.” Reminding the negative approach for the trans people, especially trans women as it is perceived as a decrease/fall, that is to say negative by this segment in the society Karahan continued: “We are carrying the gender roles around while we are performing our sexualities/gender. Surely there are people who prefer to perform masculinity however sometimes we are challenging against masculinity as if it is bad and should not exist. The intersection of trans and feminist movements is here. The more the discussions generate and the academic fields expand, the more we can determine what we are fighting against in common.”

Two parties at QueerFest “Pavyon” and “Okşa”!

QueerFest Pavyon party, which put the people under the influence of arabesque music, was thrown on 30th September night in Shelby with the presentation of Jilet Sebahat. Babykilla, Komalı Gömlek, Kika, Ecrin Bolkar and Güllü took part at the night with their performances and songs. 350 people participated to the PAVYON party.

10th Pink Life QueerFest has completed the program in İstanbul with the closure party “Okşa” on 3rd of October, on Sunday, in SumaHan. At the party which was carried on approximately 400 people,  DJs Elif KK, İpek İpekçipğlu and Şevval Kılıç performed. Habibitch surprise vogue performance left its’ mark on the night.

Tags: arts and culture