26th Thessaloniki International Documentary Festival: "Citizen Queer" - Grand tribute of LGBTQI+ documentaries

Documentaries that honor and praise the liberating act of self-determination, having left their mark on world queer cinema, take center stage at the grand tribute “Citizen Queer” of the 26th Thessaloniki International Documentary Festival (7-17/3/2024). Stories of everyday life and invaluable historical documents on the early days and the evolution of the LGBTQI+ movement, stories personal and universal, featuring the people around us, our beloved ones and our very selves, explore what defines and surrounds, reminding us that only when together can we feel complete and self-fulfilled. 

The Festival showcases films that reflect life in all its aspects, from the adventure of love and the challenges of everyday life all the way to the pivotal issues of identity, the courageous assertion of rights, the promising transformations that have already taken place, the necessary changes bound to take place in the future. 

The special consultants of the 26th TiDF’s tribute are Maria Cyber (Greece), one of the first lesbian activists in the Greek LGBTQI+ scene, founder and long-time director of the legendary Outview Festival, Rico Johnson-Sinclair (UK), founder of the famous CineQ queer festival and inclusion practitioner in prestigious film festivals, among which Berlinale and Cannes, and (they/them) Simon(e) van Saarloos (The Netherlands), writer, curator and visual artist. 

More than 25 films will be screened within the tribute’s framework. Following each screening beloved artists, activists and acclaimed personalities of cinema and culture, as well as academics and scientists, will discuss with the audience. The speakers’ names will be announced shortly. 

Setting the tribute’s tone, The Homosexual Century (Race D’Ep, 1979) is one of the most radical and inventive depictions of queer identity. Divided into four chapters, the movie traces the early days and roots of the LGBTQI+ community, going as far back as the mid-19th century, aiming to shed light on everything deliberately omitted from the official history books. 

Iconic Betty (1979) by Dimitris Stavrakas unravels 24 hours from the life of trans Betty Vakalidou. Juxtaposing memories from her previous life and fragments of her everyday life at the time, as the day reaches its end, the past and the present cross paths; the prevailing feeling that lasts in time is no other than the inevitable loneliness of the face. 

The Celluloid Closet (1996) by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, one of the most detailed, thorough and entertaining recordings of the portrayal of gay and transgender characters in Hollywood, reveals the way well-known screenwriters and film directors of the LGBTQI+ community cloaked their messages even in popular mainstream films. 

Pioneering Gendernauts (1996) by Monika Treut, one of the first films to ever delve into the issue of gender transition, brings forth shocking testimonies by trans people, inviting us to embark on an unconventional journey of redefinition of the notion of sexual identity, where self-undermining serves as the most effective medicine against self-righteousness, political correctness and headstrong militancy. 

Queer Japan (2019) by Graham Kolbeins, a colorful and exciting mosaic made up of more than a hundred interviews, introduces us to artists, academics and activists of the Japanese LGBTQI+ community, who describe the rite of passage of Japanese society from silence to visibility.   

More up-to-the-minute and topical than ever before, documentary Tilos Weddings (2022) by Panayotis Evangelidis, which focuses on the first gay and lesbian weddings held in Greece, in 2008, in the island of Tilos, will be screened in universally accessible terms, with the support of Alpha Bank, the Festival’s accessibility sponsor. 

In addition, the Festival’s much-loved Non-Catalog will complement the tribute, featuring texts that explore the themes, components and origins of queer documentary, written by: Paul B. Preciado, Panayotis Evangelidis, Leda Galanou, Dimitris Papanikolaou, NIONIA films, Sifis Vardakis, Yorgos Krassakopoulos, Simon(e) van Saarloos, Orestis Andreadakis. 

The Festival, through the 26th TiDF’s grand tribute and a series of multifaceted actions and initiatives, supports the EuroPride 2024 that will be held in Thessaloniki from June 21st to June 29th 2024. 

The tribute’s full lineup will be announced shortly.