Kashish: queer film in Mumbai

The Mumbai International Queer Film Festival is coming up on May 23-27th 2012. Festival director Sridhar Rangayan is part of the GQC network and we’re looking forward to hearing more about the festival’s development and how it embodies ‘kashish’ or attraction in Urdu. Kashish is the biggest queer fim fest in India and last year’s edition showed films from 23 countries.

Queer Cinema and the Politics of the Global

This event brings together international scholars to consider the aesthetics and politics of queer cinema in a global context. Speakers include David Eng (University of Pennsylvania), Patricia White (Swarthmore College), Gayatri Gopinath (New York University), Song Hwee Lim (University of Exeter), Catherine Grant (University of Sussex), Michael Lawrence (University of Sussex), Shamira Meghani (University of Leeds) and Cüneyt Çakirlar (UCL). The organisers are Karl Schoonover (University of Warwick) and Rosalind Galt (University of Sussex).

The symposium’s format is participatory and aims to generate debate and analysis. Our speakers will show short clips from queer film or other moving image media and present informal analyses. Questions we aim to address include:

  • What is rendered visible by placing these three terms together: ‘global’, ‘queer’ and ‘cinema? What tensions are revealed, what rhetorics engaged?
  • How do presiding visions of the global depend upon the inclusion or exclusion of queer lives?
  • How do the politics of neoliberalism and human rights discourse intersect with queer lives?How does contemporary queer film and media practice engage and refuse these tensions?How can we think about queer visual aesthetics, and how do questions of form, style and genre coalesce in contemporary queer politics?
  • What kinds of global communities are produced (or precluded) by the histories of the queer film festival, or of other modes of queer media consumption?
  • How can we theorise the role of popular cinema, art film, the avant-garde, community and activist media in these political landscapes? Are these distinctions necessary critical tools?

This event is part of an AHRC funded research network in the Translating Cultures scheme, and is located in the School of Media, Film and Music, University of Sussex.

Queer Frames #2: Tan de repente

I’ve been working on Tan de repente / Suddenly (Lerman, 2002) for a while and this image exemplifies something in its queerness that appeals to me. The play of looks undercuts the couple form: Lenin (in the middle) looks slyly at Mao (on right), cutting across Mao’s desiring gaze at Marcia (left). Mao wants Marcia and she’s willing to kidnap her. Lenin is willing to help out. Marcia is kind of willing to be abducted. Consent is tricky in a way that makes sexuality uncomfortable. The grafitti isn’t just urban style because the economy is collapsing and people are taking to the streets. The whole affair is about using public spaces in dissident ways, ways that aren’t necessarily legal. – RG

Queer frames #1: I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone

Tsai Ming-Liang’s I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone (Taiwan, 2006) opens the half-constructed thresholds of the Asian metropolis onto queer globalism. There’s something self-reflexive in the internal frames that replicate across this image, a series of screens that are all dark and dingy. All except the central one, where we follow the looks of two half-naked men. The image composes reflection and repetition on x and y axes, with the water that repeats across all of Tsai’s films here reflecting the screens and spaces above. There’s somehow an emptiness to the image (nothing to see, especially, an empty building) alongside a fullness (of detailed composition and lighting) that is characteristic of the film’s queerness. Some things are highly visible and perverse, where others are unspoken and imaginary.