Mezipatra Queer Film Festival starts

The festival presents new films in competition plus shorts documentaries and classics

The 17th Mezipatra Queer Film Festival starts Nov. 3 and runs to Nov. 10 with screenings at Kino Světozor, Lucerna and the French Institute. Films will be in their original versions with English and Czech subtitles. There is also a side program of performances, exhibitions and other events. The festival will move to Brno on Nov. 11 to 18, and then have smaller versions in other cities.

The topic of this year's festival is Limits of Liberty. The opening film is the Teddy Award winner of this year's Berlinale, the drama Tomcat (Kater) by the Austrian director Händl Klaus.

Other notable films are the Czech premiere of the French film Staying Vertical (Rester vertical), which was in competition at this year's Cannes, American Lovesong, which competed at Sundance festival, and the Swedish fairytale drama Boys (Pojkarna).

The festival has four sections plus a special screening. The main completion this year has a strong representation of European cinema, as well as the balanced presence of both debuts and new films by well-established filmmakers. The retrospective section has four significant queer films that illustrate the restrictions and possibilities of the era they are set in: Nazi Germany, homophobic Britain, communist Cuba, and libertarian USA. The international short film competition will introduce a diverse collection of short films of various genres, ranging from romantic dramas, through a subversive horror, a quirky queer fairy-tale, and a lesbian sci-fi, to original animation. The documentary section will present current as well as timeless topics, with an emphasis on sex, homophobia, the rights of the trans community, and dangerous love. The special screening is the 1996 film Hustler White by Bruce LaBruce, who is on the jury for the main competition.

Festival visitors can look forward to discussions on issues, thematic parties and a photo series called Relationship, which will be brought to Prague by Rhys Ernst. He is one of the producers of the Transparent series, which won eight Emmy awards this year. He is the creator of the web series This Is Me (2015) and We've Been Around (2016). Ernst has won Horizon Award which Point Foundation awards to artists who contribute to a better representation of the LGBTQ community in the media.

In Prague, he will personally introduce selected episodes of the third season of Transparent. As a part of an interactive discussion, he will show his We've Been Around series, which focuses on distinguished figures of the trans movement history. On Nov. 7 he will open the Relationship photographic exhibition which he created together with his former partner, Zackary Drucker, between 2008 and 2014.

Guests include Händl Klaus, an Austrian native famous mainly as an actor in his home country. He has played many theater, television and film roles: you could have also seen him in smaller parts in Michael Haneke's films. He writes fiction, radio and theater plays, and opera librettos. His film feature debut, March (März, 2008) won Silver Leopard at Locarno IFF. His film Tomcat (Kater) deals with the topics of mourning and dealing with loss.

Nneka Ounorah, a director and queer activist from New York, will introduce her critically acclaimed documentary, The Same Difference, which focuses on discrimination within the lesbian community based on gender roles. She has toured as a motivational speaker and she is currently working as a producer for Black Girls Rock Awards.

Other guests include William Fairman and Max Gogarty from Britain, who directed the documentary Chemsex. The film warns about the increasing addiction to drug use during sex among gays, revealing the darker side of an independent sex life

The prize for the Best Feature Film will be awarded by an international jury. Apart from the director Bruce LaBruce, it will include Šárka Gmiterková, a doctoral student at the Department of Film Studies and Audiovisual Culture at the Faculty of Arts of Masaryk University in Brno and a film publicist, and the artistic director of Karlovy Vary IFF, Karel Och. The prize for the best short live-action film will be decided by a student jury. 

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