2009 – Merlinka Queer Film Festival

Merlinka Queer Film Festival

Merlinka Queer Film Festival


First Merlinka festival successfully ended

The first International Queer Film Festival “Merlinka,” organized by the Gay Lesbian Info Centre, successfully ended last night at Belgrade’s Dom omladine. Ten films dealing with LGBT themes were shown during four days of the festival. Also, a public discussion entitled “Gay and lesbian moments in domestic film” was held. Actresses Ana Franić and Lena Bogdanović, actor Aleksandar Lazić and directors Mladen Đorđević and Želimir Žilnik partook in the discussion.

“Dorothy’s Shoe”, the audience award, was given to Bruce LaBruce’s film “Otto; or Up with Dead People.” This Canadian director’s film is about a gay zombie raising from the dead and running into a director filming a political zombie film. The director believes that his zombie looks are just make-up. The award was designed by Lidija Jovanović.

This year’s festival had been postponed twice. Different obstacles, which could not be controlled, were on its path. We hope that the organization of the second Festival, planned for the end of 2010, will be simpler and with less obstacles.

The Festival would not have materialized without the solidary help from Centre for Nonviolent Action, Queeria Centre, Goethe Institute, French Cultural Centre, British Council and Ministry of Human and Minority Rights.

The Festival’s name honours the murdered transsexual persona Vjeran Miladinović – Merlinka, the star of Želimir Žilnik’s film “Marble Ass” which opened the Festival.

December 18 -23 – Cultural Center Dom omladine

International Queer Film Festival “Merlinka” will be organized from December 18th to December 23th at the Cultural Center Dom omladine with the idea to promote the film titles dealing with gay, lesbian and transsexual themes, which rarely come to the local movie audience.

The festival is named after murdered trans persona Vjeran Miladinović-Merlinka, who played in Želimir Žilnik’s achievement “Marble Ass”, which will be shown at the festival.

The festival aims to promote the gay- lesbian rights and impact on reducing homophobia in Serbian society through the film art.

Before the beginning of the festival a panel discussions “Queer moments in the domestic film” will be held. Participants will be directors and actors who worked and acted in local gay-lesbian films.

Festival is organized by Gay lesbian info center GLIC and Cultural Center Dom omladine with the support of the Center for Nonviolent Action, Queeria Center, Goethe Institute, French Cultural Center, British Council, Ministry for Human and Minority Rights and the Reconstruction Women’s Fund.

Best Feature Film

Love Song (dir. Christophe Honoré)
An Englishman in New York (dir. Richard Laxton)
Otto: Or, Up with the Dead People (dir. Bruce LaBruce)
Ghosted (dir. Monica Treut)

Winner: An Englishman in New York (dir. Richard Laxton)

“MERLINKA” – Festival Program:

All films are with Serbian subtitles.

Friday, December 18, 2009
6:00 PM – Panel discussion “Queer moments in the domestic film”
7:30 PM – Marble Ass

Monday, December 21, 2009
4:30 PM – Beyond the Pink Curtain
6:00 PM – Love Songs
8:00 PM – Englishman in New York

Tuesday, December 22, 2009.
4:00 PM – The Amazing Truth about Queen Raquela
6:00 PM – Kennedy Is Getting Married
8:00 PM – Otto: Or, Up with the Dead People

Wednesday, December 23, 2009.

4:00 PM – Take a Deep Breath
6:00 PM – Ghosted
8:00 PM – Love Sick


Friday, December 18 at 6:00 PM
Panel discussion “Queer moments in the domestic film”

Friday, December 18 at 7:30 PM

Marble Ass (1995)

Director: Želimir Žilnik
Cast: Aleksandar Brujić, Vjeran Miladinović, Milja Milenković, Nenad Milenković, Nenad Racković, Lidija Stevanović, Miodrag Suša, Suzana Zlatanović…

Film opposes two faces of war times in the nineties in Serbia. Merlin is a transvestite and a prostitute who lives in a Belgrade suburb with his friend Sanela. Sanela, transwoman and prostitute, who is in love with a bodybuilder, and she “marries” him. Merlin dreams of luxury, but she is also full of understanding and support for all. According to the description of the film, she “pacifies Balkans” and defends Belgrade in the way she is capable. Making them her customers, she unbridles violators, spenders, lonely unfortunate and horny young men who would otherwise expresse its aggression against young girls, unprotected mothers and helpless old ladies. The film won the Teddy Award at the Berlinale.

Monday, December 21 at 4:30 PM

Beyond the Pink Curtain (2008)

Director: Mathew Charles

This documentary had its premiere in December 2008 in the hotel “Covent Garden” in London. Film deals with the rights of gay-lesbian population in Eastern Europe and makes a parallel with Britain and the European Union. In the film you will see many gay activists from British gay groups, activists from Serbia, Lithuania and many others.
After the collapse of communism, the freedom for millions of people came to Eastern Europe and homosexuality was legalized, but homophobia remained institutional practice in these countries. Gay-lesbian population still suffers from violence, Pride Parades were violently interrupted, legal protection is weak or non-existent, and on the other hand the West is uncritically viewed as a space without homophobia. The author of this documentary wants to show that the situation is not perfect in the West, although gay-lesbian rights are on a much higher level than in the East. There is a strong possibility that East and West can learn a lot from each other in the struggle for equality.

Monday, December 21 at 6:00 PM

Love Songs (2007)

Director: Christophe Honoré
Cast: Louis Garrel, Ludivine Sagnier, Chiara Mastroianni, Clotilde Hesme, Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet

This is a romantic musical, showed for the first time at the Cannes festival in 2007. That year film was nominated for the Golden Palm. The film follows Julia and her boyfriend Ismail who live together. His colleague Alice joins them. Three of them are walking the streets of Paris, visiting parties, reading, and sleep together. Sometimes everything goes smoothly, sometimes there is jealousy. And then there is a case of death. Those who survived try to continue with their lives and to accept the departure of a loved one … Are the new relationships possible?

Monday, December 21 at 8:00 PM

An Englishman in New York (2009)

Director: Richard Laxton
Cast: John Hurt, Denis O’Hare, Jonathan Tucker, Cynthia Nixon, Swoosie Kurtz

John Hurt played Crisp for the first time in in the television movie thirty years ago “The naked civil servant”, directed by Jack Gold according to autobiographical novel by the same name (Rende, 2005).
The film showed Crisp’s life during the World War II, while he wasn’t famous. On the other hand, “An Englishman in New York” follows Crisp at the highlight of glory.
In 1981, he accepted an invitation to move and perform in New York. While in America, he had the status of “resident alien”, as he later called one of his novels. He has regularly performed in the United States, where he performed his one-man show “How to be happy.” One day, he met the journalists of magazine The Village Voice, Phillip Steele and soon they became friends. He created a lot of enemies, with unwise comment in an interview that AIDS is simply a fad. That led to a quarrel with Steel. The film is named after Sting’ song “An Englishman in New York, dedicated to the Crisp, which appears in the video clip. John Hurt for this role won a special Teddy Bear Award at Berlin Film Festival.

Tuesday, December 22 at 4:00 PM

The Amazing Truth About Queen Raquela (2008)

Director: Olaf de Fleur Johannesson
Cast: Raquela Rios, Stefan C. Schaefer, Olivia Galudo, Brax Villa, Valerie Grand Einarsson

Raquela is transsexual (or “ladyboy”) from the Philippines who dreams of the escape from streets of Sebua in a fairy tale life in Paris. In order to achieve her dreams, she turns from prostitution toward more cost-effective business-internet pornography. Her success as porn star brings her new friends, like Valerie, “ladyboy”-and from Iceland, and Michael, the site owner for whom Raquela works. Valerie helps Raquela to reach Iceland. There, Michael offers her a meeting in Paris. Will Paris be everything she dreamed about? Will Michael really be her prince on a white horse?

Tuesday, December 22 at 6:00 PM

Kennedy Is Getting Married (2007)

Director: Želimir Žilnik
Cast: Kenedi Hasani, Salji Hasani, Beni Halitii, Max Steiner, Philipp Eisenmann, Sladjana Pavlica, Maksud Humo, Ethem Saygieder

“Kennedy Is Getting Married” is the third film in the series, following the films “Kennedy Goes Back Home ” and “Where was Kennedy for two years”. Kennedy built a house and entered the debt. Doing various jobs, he and his brother are trying to return the debt. Wage is ten Euros, and prospects for earnings are weak. Kennedy decides to provide love services in exchange for money. First with elderly ladies and widows, and with wealthy men. Finding out about the new liberal laws in the EU he is interested in contacts with prospective groom who would ensure his legal status in Europe. He finds Max, idyll is born and it seems that the solution is in sight …

Tuesday, December 22 at 8:00 PM

Otto: Or, Up with the Dead People (2008)

Director: Bruce La Bruce
Cast: Jey Crisfar, Katharina Klewinghaus, Susanne Sachße, Marcel Schlutt

Otto is a man who rises from the grave, goes to the city, visits clubs, meets the men with whom he has relations without passion. He stumbles upon the lesbian director Medea Yarn, who believes that his zombie appearance is only a makeup, and stiff behavior literaly understood Stanislavsky method. She engages him for her artistic political epic which criticizes today’s world, his inhuman look, self -destructiveness, the production of garbage and crap in the literal and metaphorical sense. Zombie is here the obvious metaphor for numbed humanity of a young man, outsider, unadjusted, lost, who wanders the world on the brink of apocalypse in which all things are possible. Except love. Otto is a film with bold and original attitude, and it carries it with lots of humor.

Wednesday, December 23 at 4:00 PM

Take a Deep Breath (2004)

Director: Dragan Marinkovic
Cast: Mira Furlan, Ana Franić, Jelena Đokić, Bogdan Diklić, Branislav Tomašević, Nikola Đuričko, Goran Šušljik, Ana Sakić

Sasa, a Belgrade University law student, tells her parents that she and her boyfriend Stefan are moving to Canada. That same night Sasa and Stefan suffer a car accident. Sasa wakes up in hospital and meets Stefan’s charming and clever sister Lana, a photographer living in Paris. Stefan remains in hospital to recover. Sasa finds out that her mother Lila is having an affair. Her father, a well-known judge, desperately tries to keep the family together. Lana becomes Sasa’s closest friend – a person able to prove that life is sometimes a mere game. In the midst of historical and family chaos, Sasa gets involved in a love relationship with her boyfriend’s sister.

Wednesday, December 23 at 6:00 PM

Ghosted (2009)

Director: Monica Teut
Cast: Inga Busch, Huan-Ru Ke, Ting Ting Hu, Jana Schulz, Marek Harloff, Jack Kao, Yi-Ching Lu, Kevin Shih Hung Chen

Mysterious love story that takes place on the route Hamburg-Taipei. Unexplained murder of a young Taiwan mistress totally disrupted the Hamburg artist Sophie Schmitt. In her honor, she made a video installation which she wants to show in Taipei. During the opening she meets the mysterious reporter, which fascinates her at first glance, but refuses her courtship and returns to Hamburg. After several days, mysterious journalist knocks on her door in Hamburg.

Wednesday, December 23 at 8:00 PM

Love Sick (2006)

Director: Tudor Giurgiu
Cast: Maria Popistasu, Ioana Barbu, Tudor Chirila

This Romanian film follows two students, Alex and Kiki who live in the same building. Their friendship quickly develops, goes through several stages, from friendship to tenderness. Although very different, the two of them have a great relationship, except in moments when a third person appears – Sandu. Kiki’s brother is constantly jealous, which implies on the incestuous correlation of two relatives. Premiere of this film was at the Berlin Film Festival in 2006.

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