Ohio Wesleyan University students have launched the school’s first International Queer Film Festival to showcase acclaimed cinema from around the globe and create an opportunity to discuss LGBTQ issues.
The film festival launched Feb. 1 and continues weekly through April 4. Admission is free.
The festival was created by junior Ryan Bishop and is sponsored by OWU’s People Regarding Individual Diversity Everywhere (PRIDE), Student Union on Black Awareness (SUBA), Spectrum Resource Center, and Chinese Culture Club.
“It was born out of frustration and love for cinema,” said Bishop, a zoology major and East Asian studies minor. He organized the festival with help from senior Meme Salazar Rodriguez (representing VIVA Latinx and the House of Linguistic Diversity) and junior Jason Perry (representing SUBA).
“There came a point for me where the lack of meaningful queer characters or storylines in movies with otherwise good, unique plots became too much,” Bishop said. “So I decided to put together a two-month-long event showcasing queer cinema from around the world – queer characters living their lives in the cultural settings they were born in, having well-rounded storylines.”
Bishop said he was careful to pick films that received critical and/or audience acclaim to help ensure a meaningful experience for film-goers. “We try to open the floor to discussion after the film,” he said. “We also open the festival with remarks related to the theme of the movie and the region of the world it comes from. …
“We hope to give queer people on campus a chance to have a film festival dedicated solely to stories that may be similar to theirs, and to also give everyone on campus a chance to watch wonderful queer cinema from around the globe, which they would otherwise probably not encounter,” he said. “Ultimately, if we give just a few people a new way of seeing things, we will have succeeded.”
Upcoming films to be shown as part of OWU’s International Queer Film Festival are as follows. Please note the films contain mature subject matter and language. Unless otherwise noted, all will be screened in the Benes Rooms of Hamilton-Williams Campus Center, 40 Rowland Ave., Delaware.
7 p.m. Feb. 8 – “Naz & Maalik” (USA, 2015). Two closeted Muslim teens have their secretive lives rattled by FBI surveillance. Intimate and meditative, “Naz & Maalik” examines the mysterious forces that animate teenage minds. (This film represents the festival’s Black History Month feature.)
7 p.m. Feb. 13 – “Xenia” (Greece, 2014). Two brothers search for their birth father across Greece. When Odysseus isn’t protecting his day-dreaming, gay younger brother, he auditions for the television talent show “Greek Star,” pursuing his fantasy of becoming a singing star.
7 p.m. Feb. 23 – “Beyond the Hills” (Romania, 2012). In an isolated Orthodox convent in Romania, Alina reunites with Voichita after several years in Germany. The young women have supported and loved each other since meeting as children in an orphanage. A chilling tale of a real-life exorcism. This film will be screened in the Milligan Hub inside Stuyvesant Hall, 223 W. William St., Delaware.
7 p.m. March 1 – “Circumstance (Iran, 2011.) Atafeh and her brother, Mehran, have grown up in a home filled with music, art, and intellectual curiosity. Atafeh dreams of fame and adventure, and explores Tehran’s underground scene with her best friend, Shireen. Meanwhile, her brother returns home from drug rehab and replaces his once obsessive practice of classical music with more destructive pursuits.
7 p.m. March 6 – “Margarita with a Straw” (India, 2014). Laila is a young romantic, a secret rebel in a wheelchair. Undeterred by cerebral palsy, she embarks on a journey of sexual discovery, causing a rift within herself and with those she is closest to. Ultimately, it is in these bonds that she finds the strength to be herself.
7 p.m. March 20 – “Beautiful Boxer” (Thailand, 2004). Based on the true story of Thailand’s famed transgender kickboxer, this poignant action drama punches straight into the heart and mind of a person who fights fiercely to be able to express themselves as a woman.
7 p.m. April 8 – “The Handmaiden” (South Korea, 2016). From famed director Park Chan Wook, this gripping and sensual tale is set in Korea under Japanese colonial rule. Lady Hideko lives an isolated life, attended to only by her handmaiden, Sook Hee, who plans to rob her of her inheritance with a conman pretending to be a Japanese count.
Learn more about the International Queer Film Festival at www.facebook.com/owuiqff and more about Ohio Wesleyan’s Spectrum Resource Center at www.owu.edu/spectrum.
Information for this story provided by Ohio Wesleyan University.