Transgressing boundaries and (re)creating areas for transnational solidarity against the ‘indefinite ban’ on LGBTI+ events in Ankara, KuirFest Berlin presents a series of films, talks, performances and workshops in the programme Queer Feminist Rebels. Curated by Esra Özban and Esma Akyel from Pembe Hayat KuirFest, this year’s programme will gather documentary, fiction, shorts, web-series and experimental works by female, non-binary and trans filmmakers; the programme invites you to a rebellious engagement with dominant modes of filmmaking and mainstream LGBTI+ representations. Queer Feminist Rebels offers various areas of encounter with queer feminist counter-histories, time/space/gender bender narratives, queer feminist killjoys and/or joymakers.
Mainstream LGBTI+ cinema is highly dominated by cis-male filmmakers and actors, relaying cis-male narratives. Like in many other domains of life, female, non-binary and trans people are marginalised under heteropatriarchal social structures, where cis-men are firmly at the top of the hierarchy. Queer feminist filmmakers are rebelling against these established forces of oppression and power by reversing the norms and reconstructing queer existence on and off-screen. Through the KuirFest Berlin: Queer Feminist Rebels programme, we aim to gather films and filmmakers as well as activists to explore queer feminist perspectives of gender and sexuality in cinema and beyond. This programme gathers films that transgress the dominant modes of filmmaking and suggests a transitive and fluid understanding of time, space, identity and sexuality.
KuirFest Berlin offers a selection of convention-breaking films from recent productions on queer feminist cinema. The films will be followed by discussions with international guests, accompanied with workshops and parties.
Funded by Berliner Senat für Kultur and Europa and Hannchen-Mehrzweck-Stiftung.
Esma Akyel graduated from the Media and Visual Studies programme of Bilkent University with their master thesis titled Repetition in Film Form: The Case of Kim Ki-duk. They worked as a social cohesion officer in SGDD-ASAM, an association for supporting refugees in Turkey. Esma now works as the festival coordinator of Pembe Hayat KuirFest. They are also a member of Dramaqueer Art Collective.
Esra Özban after graduating from Economics at Bogazici University, continued graduate studies at Goldsmiths, University of London in Film and Screen Studies MA programme. Esra Özban is the festival director and has worked as a programmer & coordinator at Pembe Hayat KuirFest since 2014. Esra also taught film-related courses at Bilkent and TED Universities and is a member of Atina Collective.
Pembe Hayat KuirFest / Pink Life QueerFest, organized by Pembe Hayat LGBTI+ Solidarity Association, aims to open gender roles to discussion, to increase the visibility of LGBTI+ culture and their organizations, to create spaces of self expression and to attract attention to queer politics by making use of the high level of influence of arts; and provides dialogue spaces for the productions and discussions of queer art and queer cinema.
Part political satire, eco-horror and road movie, Terror Nullius is a world in which minorities and animals conspire and not-so-nice white guys finish last. Where idyllic beaches host race-riots, governments poll love-rights and the perils of hypermasculinity are overshadowed only by the enduring horror of Australia’s colonising myth of terra nullius.
Curators statement Esra Özban and Esma Akyel:
"Terror Nullius, which is an example of queer cinema that draws attention with its extraordinary formal style as well as its anti-colonial and feminist content, “terrorizes” the colonial history of Australia and its own cinema and television history by instrumentalizing it through the use of mashup technique. Composed of three parts, the film transforms the minorities from the Australian cinema history into avengers and rebels by creating critical images that expose the crimes in question, thanks to its deconstructive editing that changes contexts.”
Bartholomew Sammut was awarded "most promising new filmmaker" at the Warner Roadshow New QLD Filmmakers Awards in 2000. Bartholomew went on to continue to produce a number of short films, documentaries and theatre performances as well as working on a number of short film festivals as well as curating external film programmes for other festivals, and in 2015 established the Queer Short Film Fund, an initiative from the XPOSED International Queer Film Festival. In 2019, Bartholomew was also a member of the Berlinale Series Selection Committee and is currently developing their first feature film. Bartholomew does not know what pronoun to use, so Bartholomew uses them all.
Soda_Jerk is a two-person art collective who work at the intersection of documentary and speculative fiction. They are fundamentally interested in the politics of images: how they circulate, whom they benefit, and how they can be undone. Predominantly working with video, their sample-based projects have also taken the form of cut-up texts, manifestos, screensavers and lecture performance. Formed in Sydney in 2002, they have been based in New York since 2012.
KuirFest Berlin is back for a rebellious engagement with dominant modes of filmmaking and mainstream LGBTI+ representations! For the Opening Party, we bring you the most prominent queer performers and DJs from Turkey!
KuirFest Berlin Opening Party will host the first ever Berlin show of Korospular. This radical and humorous queer choir from Istanbul will be later joined on stage by Gazino Neukölln, who will play their mostly Turkish queered kitsch hits. The party will continue until the early hours of the morning with DJ sets by the stars of Istanbul’s lubunya nightlife: Şevval Kılıç, Samy Winehouse and Elif KK!
KuirFest Berlin is brought to you by Pembe Hayat KuirFest – Pink Life Queer Fest and bi’bak to transgress the boundaries and to (re-) create areas for transnational solidarity against the "indefinite ban" on LGBTI+ events in Ankara.
Korospular is a queer feminist choir started by a group of artists and activists based in Istanbul. They re-interpret the already existent songs with lubunca (a slang used among queer people in Turkey) lyrics. There is no hierarchy between choir members and there is no fix members in the group. It is rather open to grow with new members. They perform in the human rights based queer and feminist events aiming solidarity. Korospular is focusing solidarity and queer joy rather than making perfect music. They make the audience a part of this very experience and joy in the shows.
Gazino Neukölln is a Berlin based band playing re-makes and mash-ups of Arabesque/ Pop hits primarily from Turkey. The band consists of women and non-binary members, who made Berlin their place of living within the last decade. “Gazino” refers to a very particular venue and an entertainment format appeared in the early 1930s in Istanbul, which later on expanded to other metropoles in Turkey. With this inspiration, Gazino Neukölln aims at recreating glamorous, kitschy, diverse and sincere atmosphere while maintaining the hybridity emanated from Gazino culture by blending different musical genres across geographies and histories. In this very hybridity, Gazino Neukölln senses and follows the queer potential of performing music.
Şevval Kılıç is an Istanbul based DJ and trans rights activist. She plays various forms of melodic techno and house in her sets. Şevval intuitively learned and developed DJing, and continues to perform in queer parties in Istanbul and occasionally in Berlin.
Samy Wine House (Sema Semih) is a project coordinator at Sabancı University Gender and Women’s Studies Center of Excellence (Su Gender); working in the projects titled Transformative Activism: Rethinking Gender and Politics (2017-…) and Curious Steps: Gender and memory Walks since 2016. Since 2005, she has performed in the Fluxus remakes of İstanbul Queer Art Collective, site-specific performances of Tuğçe Tuna Dance Projects, and dance-music shows of Boğaziçi university Performing Arts Ensemble. She is a Hatha yoga teacher, a certified storyteller and a founding member of Queerwaves which is a DJ collective aiming to provide alternative entertainment and solidarity spaces for queer folks in Istanbul.
Elif KK is an artist and DJ based in Istanbul. Since 2010, they have participated in the coordination of Istanbul Pride numerous times and have been an active member of the LGBTI+ association, LambdaIstanbul. Besides their engagement in queer politics, they have been involved in queer art collectives by organizing and/or being featured in various exhibitions. They started djing in 2012 in LambdaIstanbul’s solidarity parties for the Istanbul Pride Week and since then they continually perform in queer cultural events in Istanbul.
KuirFest Opening Party is supported by Musicboard Berlin.
Many thanks to Rüzgâr Buşki for the illustration and support.
Vegan Inclusive Trans Cake and More: Pembe Hayat Online
Following the bans issued by the governorship of Ankara against all LGBTI+ related public events in November 2017, Pembe Hayat LGBTI+ Solidarity Association decided to use online channels as a tool for video-activism to motivate the community that could otherwise not get together. Pembe Hayat’s online channel became a performance space and an alternative resisting medium for the trans community. The selection is composed of several videos with different themes and forms. A transvestite goes for an inspection, bakes a special cake and makes “madi” (trolling) comments. Pembe Hayat videos will be screened for the first time with English subtitles.
Sude Derin is a 20 years old trans activist. She has been working at Pembe Hayat LGBTİ+ Solidarity Association for four years. She got involved in Pembe Hayat with the festival KuirFest when she was 16, and since then she has been an activist in LGBTI+ movement. She makes peer counseling on gender reassignment process within Pembe Hayat.
Nalan is trans and a video-activist. In her leisure times when she can not use the coquetry as a mass weapon against hate, she explores things such as toying with a camera, and she shows them by cutting, patching and montaging. Now, she is transforming at Pembe Hayat, and in the meantime she shoots and edits. And in her spare times she goes on putting on coquettish airs.
Against ‘the History’, with a capital H, this selection gathers shorts that can be interpreted as queer feminist interventions to conventional ways of History-making. This selection is an invitation to think collectively about the queer feminist historicity, non-linear, non-hegemonic her* stories and the (re-)creation of queer pasts and futures.
Something Said, Jay Bernard, UK, 2017, 8 min
Rüya, Sinan Göknur, Turkey, 2018, 2 min 30 seconds
Reality Fragment 160921, Qigemu, USA/Sweden, 2017, 13 min
LYING WOMEN, Deborah Kelly, Australia, 2016, 3 min
Reclaiming Intersex, Gabrielle Le Roux & Nthabiseng Mokoena, South Africa, 2016, 28 min
These are My Hands, Evi Tsiligaridou, UK, 2018, 8 min
Archive of Feelings: Radical Compassion, Gizem Aksu, Turkey, 2018, 10 min
Haunted by that history, and in the context of the recent rise of the far-right and the tragedy of Grenfell, Something Said is an imaginative, gestural letter to Yvonne Ruddock, the 16 year-old whose birthday was being celebrated the night of the fire. Rüya is a queer dream emerging from the real ‘surreal’ scapes of Istanbul that hold in tandem so much suffering yet so much pleasure. Reality Fragment 160921 follows two people in their process of reality-curation, revealing the careful cultivation of our own histories. LYING WOMEN, imagines art history’s most famous reclining nudes daring to escape from centuries of servitude to colonial heteropatriarchy. In Reclaiming Intersex, “I was born into a world that said: you do not exist, you should not exist, you cannot exist” says Nthabiseng Mokoena, an intersex in South Africa in 1978. These Are My Hands is a personal narrative of a trans body where pain, resistance, power and love become intertwined and merge into one, a visual poem written and voiced by playwright Jo Clifford. Whereas the world tends to reiterate its hot borders, conflictual discourses and neoliberal violence, Archive of Feelings: Radical Compassion reminds us it may be the time to remember there are worlds without ends.
The screening is followed by a collective discussion on queer feminist her*stories with an interactive play moderated by Zeynep Dişbudak, Esma Akyel and Esra Özban.
Voltrans is a trans man initiative in Turkey, which is composed of three trans men that found each other in 2007. This documentary project came up in order to make the stories of those trans men coming together, acting together visible, share the experiences and problems of those people, document their own histories. In this feature-length movie that is shot since March 2012, trans activists who banded together in Voltrans sincerely tell what it means to be a trans man in a heterosexist and transphobic society which is founded upon binary gender system and how they fought back against stereotypes of masculinity and “trans manhood”.
Curator's statement Esra Özban and Esma Akyel:
"The documentary tells the story of Voltrans – the very first trans men initiative in Turkey – by the lips of its founders and LGBTI+ activists within the frame of how they acquainted with each other and how the initiative influenced on LGBTI+, feminist and transfeminist movements in Turkey".
Rüzgâr Buşki is an artist, director and producer from Istanbul. His artistic practice varies within printmaking, performance, video and film. He studied Journalism at Istanbul University. Since 2011, Buşki studies multimedia at Berlin University of Arts in the class of Prof. Dr. Hito Steyerl. He is one of the founders of Kanka Productions, a trans-feminist production collective for empowerment of women and trans on fields of visual and performing arts. His first feature documentary with Kanka Productions, #direnayol had its world premiere on the 15th !f Istanbul Independent Film Festival. Currently he is working on his second feature hybrid documentary on queer grief practices from Turkey.
Ulaş Dutlu, born in Eskişehir in 1987, graduated from the Department of Turkish Language and Literature at Eskişehir Osmangazi University and worked as a text writer for advertisement agencies for three years. Having worked as a boom operator in the cinema sector between 2011-2013, Ulaş Dutlu keeps on conducting studies on sound. He worked as a sound technician for the 2013 documentary titled “Diren Ayol”, a Turkish-German co-production. Voltrans is his first feature documentary film.
Her Story is a web series about two trans women in Los Angeles who have given up on love, until suddenly chance encounters give them hope. Violet is drawn to Allie, a reporter who approaches her for an interview, while career-driven Paige meets James, the first man she’s considered opening up to in years. Will they risk letting what they are stand in the way of being loved for who they are?
Curator's statement Esra Özban and Esma Akyel:
“Trans women in the media have long been punchlines, killers, indications of urban grit, pathetic tragedies, and dangerous sirens. Rarely have they been complex characters who laugh, struggle, and grow, who share strength in sisterhood, who seek and find love. Her Story depicts the unique, complicated, and very human women we see in queer communities, and explores how these women navigate the intersections of label identity and love. Co-written by Jen Richards and Laura Zak, directed by Sydney Freeland (Drunktown’s Finest), with cinematography by Bérénice Eveno, and produced by Katherine Fisher/Speed of Joy Productions, Her Story features predominantly LGBTQ women, on and off-screen.”
Dr. Mijke van der Drift lectures at Goldsmiths, University of London, the School for New Dance Development, and The Royal Academy of Art, The Hague. They are currently preparing their book Nonnormative Ethics for publication. Mijke has been working internationally on Radical Transfeminism and is co-editor of the radical transfeminism zine. Mijke van der Drift's and Alex Reuter’s second film A Way of Dying... is currently on tour.
This movie rocked the foundations of the early indie film world. The provocative, thrilling classic is a fantasy of female rebellion set in America ten years after a social democratic cultural revolution. When Adelaide Norris, the black radical founder of the Woman’s Army, gets mysteriously killed, a diverse coalition of women – across all lines of race, class, and sexual preference – emerges to blow the System apart.
Newly restored in high definition on its 35th anniversary, Born in Flames is even more relevant in today's political climate. Preserved by Anthology Film Archives with restoration funding from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and The Film Foundation.
The screening is followed by a discussion on queer feminist futures with AnouchK from TransFormations - Trans* Film Festival Berlin.
TransFormations - Trans* Film Festival Berlin is a biennial grassroots, community-focused festival organized by an exclusively Black and PoC trans*, two spirit, gender-non-conforming team. The festival strives to bring together a broad range of films, art works and performances from different geographies and contexts, in order to celebrate the legacies and visions of Black, Indigenous, PoC, poor and working class, disabled folks and migrants within the make-up of queer, trans* and inter pasts, presents and futurities.
In collaboration with TransFormations – Trans* Film Festival Berlin.
AnouchK, non binaire, is one of the 6 members of the TransFormations – Trans* Film Festival Berlin (TFFB) Team. The organizing team of Black & PoC trans*, two spirit, gender non-conforming people wants to make a change by creating and sustaining a space for intersectional films from (but not limited to) the perspectives of Black, Indigenous, PoC folks speaking about or from trans* and/ or gender-variant experiences.
KuirFest Berlin 2019 will close with a spectacular celebration in Ostkreuz’s transfeminist DIY venue Raumerweiterungshalle. Hosting live performances of hip-hop stars Ebow, Säye Skye and Alice Dee mingled with dirty drag shows and a live electro performance by 6zm featuring Gazino Neukölln, the party will continue heating up with DJ sets by the queens of Berlin’s electroriental music scene: DJ Ipek and DJ T**lin (queeriental). Bringing wide range of genres together with politics, this eclectic night will be fun, fabulous and a great finale for the second edition of KuirFest Berlin.
KuirFest Berlin Closing Party is supported by Musicboard Berlin.