Collaborating with local festivals, filmmakers, actors, venues and many stalwarts of the Scottish queer community, the Scottish Queer International Film Festival presents its inaugural edition this September with an inspiring mix of shorts, features, workshops and parties. With a strong intention to be as accessible and broadly appealing as possible, SQIFF is an ambitious and welcome addition to the Scottish festival scene.
Here are six highlights from the programme, which runs from 24 – 27 September in Glasgow…
1. Dyke Hard
Opening with Bitte Anderson’s debut feature film Dyke Hard, SQIFF makes clear that it intends to bring the fun during its four-day run. Describing itself as ‘just another Swedish action comedy musical b-movie’ the John Waters inspired Dyke Hard promises to pack its runtime with genre-mixing camp and carnage. The plot sees a failed lesbian rock group battle cyborgs, ghosts, ninjas, a motorbike gang and roller derby girls to make it to battle of the bands, but if the trailer is anything to go by, SQIFF’s opener will be so much more than can be imagined.
Thursday 24 September, CCA
2. Open Windows
Having played at film festivals worldwide, including the Toronto International Queer West Film Festival (where it won the award for best director), Michèle Massé’s feature documentary Open Windows comes to Scotland, drawing attention to the lives of older gay women. Where PJ Raval’s touching Before You Know It (which screened at Edinburgh International Film Festival in 2013) shone a light on the diverse experiences of elderly gay men in the US, Massé instead points the camera at four women in Paris and Madrid, to highlight the activism and passion of their lives past and present. A fascinating insight into the experience of those who have lived through decades of societal change and refuse to be sidelined because of their age.
Friday 25 September, CCA
3. Ghost in the Shell
The influence of Mamoru Oshii’s 1995 anime spectacular cannot be overstated. Originating as a manga comic in the late 1980s and adapted by Oshii as a feature animation to great acclaim, Ghost in the Shell’s sci-fi thriller has spawned sequels, TV shows and video games, and now a live-action remake to be produced by Dreamworks and star Scarlett Johannsson. The plot concerns a cyborg cop called Motoko Kusanagi who must find the mysterious and powerful hacker, the Puppet Master, whilst navigating a complex and corrupt political system. Though containing some truly stunning action scenes and innovative combination of cell and CG animation, it’s also a hugely complex work of film philosophy, dealing with issues of gender identity, the uncanny and what it means to be human. SQIFF presents this astonishing film as part of Glasgow University’s Explorathon Festival with a post-screening discussion about queerness and the cyborg.
Friday 25 September, Andrew Stewart Cinema, Gilmorehill Centre.
4. Lock Up Your Mothers double bill
SQIFF presents a classic double bill centring on the plight and absurdity of the housewife followed by a party hosted by Glasgow club night Lock Up Your Daughters that ‘all you film fatales will not forget.’ First up, Pedro Almodóvar’s What Have I Done to Deserve This? (1984) stars queer screen legend Carmen Maura as downtrodden Gloria, who one day decides she’s had enough of her violent husband, ungrateful kids and tiresome mother-in-law. John Waters’ Desperate Living (1977) then follows, with Peggy Gravel (Mink Stole) and her maid Grizelda (Jean Hill) going on the run after the murder of the former’s husband. Such a devious combination of cinematic camp is not to be missed.
Saturday 26 September, CCA then Drygate Brewing from 10pm for party
5. SQIFF shorts
A festival with a strong shorts programme is always one to get excited about and SQIFF has put together seven programmes of international and local short films, covering themes of identity, feminism and activism. Cruising Utopia (26 Sep) brings together some of the best in experimental works by the likes of Abigail Child and Kenneth Anger, Anxiety Sucks (26 Sep) looks with wit and sympathy at the myriad ways in which the modern world conspires to confuse and distress within the spectrum of queer experience, and Queer Scotland (27 Sep) showcases the best of local filmmakers tackling a variety of techniques and subjects as diverse as female power struggles and cruising.
24 – 27 September, various venues.
6. Johnny Guitar
Described by Roger Ebert as ‘surely one of the most blatant psychosexual melodramas ever to disguise itself in that most commodious of genres, the Western’, Nicolas Ray’s 1954 stylised genre piece features gender ambiguity, undertones of bisexuality, love rivalry and showcases Joan Crawford at her powerful best. The perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
Sunday 27 September, CCA
See the full programme at www.sqiff.org
Main image: Dyke Hard