Fig TreesA Quick Backgrounder, For Those Who Came in Late

With its advent smack-bang on the first year of a new millennium, Mezipatra, the Czech Republic’s queer film festival and, by a considerable margin, its largest GLBTIQ community event, continues to demonstrate a timeliness in its sense of occasion. In 2009 it marked, and heartily celebrated, its 10th anniversary, the same year as the 20th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution, without which, it should go without saying, it would not have been possible. (Noteworthily, the famed dissident and playwright Václav Havel, whom the revolution installed as Czechoslovakian President in 1989, has been a Mezipatra Patron since 2006.)

Mezipatra, which, rich in metaphor, translates to English as “Mezzanine”, has on turning ten newly designated itself a “queer” rather than a “gay and lesbian” film festival, the better to herald the all-inclusiveness this maturing festival aspires to. Humbly inaugurated as “Duha nad Brnem 2000” (“Rainbow over Brno 2000”), a four-day event that took place solely in the South Moravian capital, it has grown significantly with every passing year, with a 2002 expansion into the Czech capital coinciding with the adoption of the Mezipatra name, and with the introduction of competition strands the following year. It has increased its programming annually, presenting ever more Czech premieres alongside retrospectives of auteurs whose works could only ever have had very limited, if any, previous Czech exhibition: Pier Paolo Pasolini in 2002; Rainer Werner Fassbinder in 2003; Monika Treut in 2005; festival guests John Greyson and Ulrike Ottinger in 2007 and Rosa von Praunheim in 2008. Additionally, cognisant of its central festival role in queer Czech life, Mezipatra is almost as much about its ever-swelling “off-program” as it is directly about cinema, with its peripheral offerings also contributing to the steady growth of its audience and international profile.

Now, while the festival may have just hit double figures, the festival team is still a very young one; I believe only its Director, Aleš Rumpel, who has overseen the festival since 2002, is into his thirties (and even then, only just). This no doubt reflects to some extent the newness of the freedoms and the will thereabouts to assert a non-normative sexuality openly; there is no “old guard” as such. No doubt too this youthfulness can be attributed to matters financial, for, as with many like festivals the world over, it’s run with little in the way of a profit motive, commensurate with the little money available publicly and privately to fund it in the first place. Hence it is mostly reliant upon volunteer labour and a tremendous amount of goodwill, which typically attracts (a fair turnover of) a younger set, and students especially. A great positive to emerge from this is that there’s a terrific energy about the festival, a congenial vim and vigour about proceedings imbued with something of a pioneer spirit which is tremendously endearing.

Before Going Any Further

I should mention that it was only the Prague leg of the festival I attended; while there were no film screenings exclusive to Brno, I did miss several side-events on that basis. I will expand a little upon this a little later.

Anniversary Offerings

In recognition of attaining its decennial, Mezipatra 2009 canvassed queer film festival peers around the globe to form a retrospective program highlighting the best of the noughties’ queer cinema, one film apiece to match a rubric of gay; lesbian; transgender; documentary. Chosen accordingly were Un año sin amor (A Year Without Love, Anahí Berneri, 2005); My Summer of Love (Pawel Pawlikowski, 2004); Transamerica (Duncan Tucker, 2005), and John Greyson’s brand new and quite extraordinary Fig Trees, which was sadly underattended, especially as Greyson was a high-profile festival guest just two years prior. More about Fig Trees, but not about the others, below. (I didn’t manage to catch either Berneri’s or Pawlikowski’s film, or Transamerica, which I already know all too well and about which little more needs now be said.)

Additional festival anniversary offerings spilled off the silver screen and into cyberspace, where, for Czech viewers, Česká televize’s website hosted several features awarded jury prizes in previous years, including Ben and Dominik Reding’s Oi! Warning (1999), the 2003 festival’s inaugural Jury Award-winner. Mindful of this, the festival asked the Reding brothers to perform jury duty this year; they duly obliged.

Also on jury duty was James Mackay, producer of 1990’s The Garden, several other of Derek Jarman’s films, and Isaac Julien’s 2008 documentary on the late filmmaker, Derek. Derek, The Garden and a selection of three other of Jarman’s greatest made for a very welcome auteur focus in this, the 15th year since his passing, and notably not the only year his oeuvre has got a look-in; it was represented in the very first Mezipatra with 1986’s Caravaggio, as well as in the second with what would be reprised as this year’s Closing Night film, Edward II (1991), in another respectful tip of the hat to good work done in the festival’s infancy. All this Jarmania in turn inspired “The Other Kind of Blue”, an exhibition in the off-program, about which, a little more below.

Patrik, Age 1.5In a further nod to festivals past, a long-standing Mezipatra tradition has been to replay the previous year’s Audience Award-winner, meaning that the feather-light Canadian gay parenting dramedy Breakfast with Scot (Laurie Lynd, 2007) got another guernsey, screening immediately before the festival proper opened. Curiously, it would be a film running along similar narrative lines that would receive the same award this year, the far superior Swedish feature Patrik 1,5 (Patrik, Age 1.5, Ella Lemhagen).

But Mezipatra 2009 was not all about looking back. Far from it. Themed “The Third World War of the Sexes”, the festival’s 10th edition aimed to stimulate thought about the messy business of gender identity politics through a combination of editorialising (Rumpel, in his Director’s statement, invoking the timely but ghastly shemozzle that was the mass media’s reporting, and the IAAF’s grotesque bungling, of the Caster Semenya affair); canny and well disseminated promotion; on-topic screenings, and off-program discussions and events. Exemplifying this focus was the choice of film to launch the festival before a full house, the excellent Argentine drama XXY (d. Lucía Puenzo).

Opening Night and Beyond

If there’s anything I’ve learnt, it’s that you can’t open a film festival in the Czech Republic without a hearty dose of ceremonial anticking. In this instance, the stage at the beautiful 100 year-old (another anniversary!) Kino Lucerna hosted a tableau vivant a-glut with folks, with the aid of a little strategic bondage tape, de-anthropomorphised into fetish furniture. While this looked striking, its symbolism struck me as a little at odds with the festival’s theme. People-as-furniture might well, in transforming, have rendered gender meaningless; however, might they not also have dehumanised themselves altogether? It would be a highly Pyrrhic victory over the tyranny of gender indeed if it should only prove achievable with one’s humanity discarded along the way.

Wonky symbolism notwithstanding, the opening of the festival was all good fun and, happily, was fairly compact; local queer identities kept things light with amusing gender-loaded badinage; various notables and sponsors were duly acknowledged, festival guests were introduced to the crowd and hay was widely made by various of those taking to the stage partaking of a comfy, fleshy seat.

And then XXY began. One of the strongest films at the festival, I’d seen it twice before but certainly not previously noted it to elicit any laughs. Perhaps that was just reflective of the opening night party mood, and certainly, the film overall affected people much as it had me on earlier viewings; it’s a powerful and mercifully unsensationalistic affair concerned with an intersex character raised a girl, brilliantly played by Inés Efron, and how she, her family, some awkward visitors and others will come to terms with where her raging hormones might lead her.

XXYThe acting is in fact excellent across the entire cast, the cinematography is splendid and XXY isn’t even too adversely affected by some unsubtle flashes of natural-world symbolism (mostly concerned here with marine biology) that amazingly reliably pop up in films featuring issues of gender ambiguity and/or transformation. (Consider also the film that would yet nobble it of a Jury Award, João Pedro Rodrigues’ Morrer Como Um Homem [To Die Like a Man]: early on in that overesteemed, if beautifully lensed, potboiler, a discussion about the merits of sex reassignment surgery occurs while one of the two trans- characters involved deliberates over whether to buy some orchids… Always with the fucking orchids!) Anyway, XXY, come Closing Night, would have to settle for an Honourable Mention.

The predictably inglorious downward spirals poorly negotiated by To Die Like a Man‘s pair of co-dependent lead contrarians – a God-fearing drag queen well past her prime and her young junkie lover – prevailed over a further ten narrative features vying for the Best Feature Film prize. I can account for nine of those in what was overall a strong selection.

Latin America enjoyed considerable big-screen representation. On top of XXY, festival guest Sergio Candel’s Dos miradas and Francisco Franco Alba’s Quemar las naves (Burn the Bridges) both presented well-constructed depictions of forms of queer life in the southern half of the Americas. Dos miradas is of the morning-after-the-night-before genre and languorously observes two young women, one evidently much more surprised than the other to discover they’d spent the previous night together, as they awkwardly negotiate the following day. Apparently heavy on improvisation, it’s full of stillness, long takes, and sudden recriminatory tantrums, and shows off Chile’s Atacama desert to gorgeous and ultra-low-budget-defying effect.

Burn the Bridges‘ cup runneth over with simmering adolescent sexual tensions centred around two siblings in a single-parent household. One is shiftless Catholic-schoolboy Sebastián (Angel Onésimo Nevares), the other the fiery, house-bound Helena (Irene Azuela), who’s tending to their dying mother, once a singer of renown and whose fame evidently leapfrogged their family up the class ladder, allowing them to live in a sizeable villa, if one dilapidating by the minute. Against a backdrop of general decay, Sebastián falls for Juan (Bernardo Benítez), an outsider at school, while his mother’s gentleman friend’s son in turn develops a crush on Sebastián, who also proves strangely alluring to his own sister, much to the maid’s disapproval… I can’t make my mind up about whether director Alba was right to play this straight rather than as an early Almodóvarian farce!

One day a curious motif ran through my viewing. Back-to-back I caught three features all riffing on queer celebrity, in wildly disparate fashions. First up was the already widely exhibited Brüno (d. Larry Charles), which the festival saw fit to program out of competition in multiple reprise screenings, in a salutary case of queers co-opting back a mainstream “queer” release. The wisdom of this move was borne out, if perhaps only serendipitously, when I was afforded the opportunity to watch Sacha Baron Cohen’s eponymous fashionista’s quest for fame, replete with many and various of the hilarious chutzpah-intensive pranks his characters are famous for, juxtaposed against Pedro (d. Nick Oceano), a lively but sensitive dramatisation of the latter part of the life of young AIDS educator-cum-reality-TV star Pedro Zamora.

Scripted by Milk writer Dustin Lance Black, Pedro profiles a man (played by Alex Loynaz) keen to put his sudden real-life fame as a star of MTV’s 1994 series, “The Real World: San Francisco”, to a genuinely noble end. Truth be told, while touched by this dramatisation of episodes from Zamora’s reality-TV life (!), I found Pedro to be most interesting for what it demonstrates about how quickly the stars of these shows came to understand the power and the mechanics of the medium. When to break difficult news to one’s housemates? Why, only when the camera’s rolling, of course! – a clear indication that the “reality” presented by such shows has been compromised from the genre’s outset. Also interesting was the cumbersomeness of the hand-held cameras back in the day; evidently there was no simple means then of installing unobtrusive CCTV-style cameras; someone had to physically be there to capture every moment.

A flat fish-out-of-water, chase-the-Hollywood-dream tale, Jason Bushman’s Hollywood, je t’aime was the third, and far the weakest, of these three films. In the lead role, Eric Debets’ Jérôme is a tiresome Parisian naïf nursing a broken heart and an unshifting hangdog expression. His lacklustre pursuit of mythical good times in Los Angeles is far from captivating, no matter the array of colourful LA underbelly-dancers he encounters along the way.

The Man Who Loved YngveTwo Scandinavian features – the Norwegian Mannen som elsket Yngve (The Man Who Loved Yngve, d. Stian Kristiansen) and Patrik, Age 1,5 – demonstrated strong production values, maximising the chances of the very sort of crossover critical and box-office success they had both already received in their homelands. The Man Who Loved Yngve is one of the finest coming-of-age films in recent years, unsentimentally portraying the dizzying confusion that can overwhelm a small-town punk rock-loving boy (Rolf Kristian Larsen) when his first two crushes come in quick succession and when the objects of his desire are first of one sex and then of another. With a terrific soundtrack wholly evocative of its period (1989), some moments of great comedy arising naturally from the narrative, a little fourth wall-breaching scene-setting and terrific performances all round, Yngve could be happily said to feature a bit of everything, including the kitchen sink.

Ditto Patrik, Age 1,5. The marriage of a gay Swedish couple resident in picture postcard-perfect sun-kissed suburbia starts to unravel after a bureaucratic error leads to their adopting a thuggish 15 year-old homophobe rather than, as expected, an infant one-tenth his age. This situation is played out with abundant good humour yet without sacrificing emotional and true-to-life complexities. As with Yngve, the film’s denouement is satisfying without resorting to any fairy-tale compromises, and the performances are uniformly superb.

Of the features remaining, festival guest Antonio Hens’ Clandestinos, queer film veteran Monika Treut’s Ghosted and Ha-Sodot (The Secrets, d. Avi Nesher) all told intriguing stories; the first two however came somewhat undone by a certain hodge-podgeyness. Hens’ film oddly smooshes together tropes from the teen delinquent, sex comedy and terrorist conspiracy genres, has some awful ’80s guitar on the soundtrack and is subject to varying levels of conviction brought by the cast to their performances. Ghosted’s cross-cultural doppelganger-from-beyond-the-grave love story flits back and forth between Taipei and Hamburg, and is interesting in so much as a German-Taiwanese doppelganger-from-beyond-the-grave love story couldn’t help but be at least a little interesting; however, its production values come across as intermittently amateurish and it suffers from some odd pacing. Strongest of the three, The Secrets is a most unorthodox French-Israeli co-production in which a pair of young Orthodox Jewish women resist patriarchal oppression and seek scholarly enlightenment in a women’s seminary, whereupon they soon fall for one another, try to do the right thing for a dying and disgraced woman in the nearby village (the wonderful Fanny Ardant), but can only ultimately fall foul of their own fears, indexed to the seemingly insurmountably repressive nature of their phallocentric culture’s dominant mores. A handsome production of a story hitherto untold.

Shorts & Documentaries

Shorts were presented in four blocks. There was one aimed specifically, if not exclusively, at the blokes (ominously, “Nightmares of Men”) and another at the ladyfolk (awkwardly, “Delicate Spaces of Women”). Also: a package of documentary miscellany in “Leather, Wigs, Parents and Kids” and a package of queer films from FAMU, the school from which famously emerged a number of the leading lights of the Czechoslovak New Wave (and several latter-day notables). Alas, it was the one block of the four I didn’t catch, after hearing tell that the FAMU shorts were mostly without English subtitles. I did however see three films from this package elsewhere.

The strongest amongst the men’s shorts included Dan Faltz’s Weak Species, a harrowing queer Social Darwinist high school psychodrama based on Dennis Cooper’s writings and destined yet to be adapted to feature length, (1) hopefully with just as little sugar-coating of certain harsh realities of North American gay teen life, and ideally with the same excellent leads (Brendan Bradley, Erik Scott Smith and Reed Windle). Also of note: Lukáš Bača’s charming Amsterdamský deník (Amsterdam Diary), a diaristic account of a coming-out mixing live-action and a variety of hands-on animation techniques, and Tomer Velkoff’s Haboged (The Traitor), a rough-and-tumble feast of break-up sex and mind games between a like-appearing Israeli couple. Haboged won the Student Jury Award for Best Short Film.

One of the Queer as FAMU shorts appeared in this block; while I could understand only very little of the dialogue – as mluvím jenom málo český (2) – I could nonetheless tell that Naděje (Hope, d. Jan Kobler), while abundant with good production values and boasting a small cast of well-known faces, was sure one histrionic yet utterly po-faced 20 minutes of cinema (in which its young lead (Jiří Mádl) has AIDS and begs his parents to euthanase him.) It was excruciating.

Of the designated chick flicks, strongest was Páginas de Menina (Pages of a Girl), Monica Palazzo’s sumptuous production in which co-workers in a bookstore in a small Brazilian town in the 1950s, one young, the other rather more mature, are drawn together for a while, only for their fleeting tryst to come the stuff of their beloved written word many a year later, in the published work of one discovered far afield by the other. It’s a lovely piece of work. Also commendable were Barbara Seiler’s Tanz ins Glück (Dancing to Happiness), in which a deep class divide between two women is bridged by night in a salsa class, and so will, in fairy-tale fashion, surely yet be bridged by day as well. And, with a foot also in the FAMU program, Hlavolam (Mindbender, d. Dana Bubáková) impressed as a short, melancholy and somewhat abstract animation full of geometric shapes, Rubik’s cubes, mopey human figures and textured grey backgrounds, awash in an atmospheric post-rock score. It looks like a lot of recent indie rock poster art come dreamily to life.

Pecah LobangThe “Leather, Wigs, Parents and Kids” package was a real mixed bag, with a couple of queer pride sing-a-long shockers in it but also three standouts. Pecah Lobang (Busted, d. Poh Si Teng) is a half-hour very well spent getting acquainted with the highly fraught lot in life of muslim mak nyah – male-to-female transsexuals, and often, by sad necessity, sex workers – in Kuala Lumpur. Insights and commentary are provided by several mak nyah along with representatives of various alternately persecutory and supportive elements within Malaysian society, wherein a form of sharia law is cracking down upon the mak nyah harder and harder. A fascinating, and rather troubling, film.

Much looser a production, but also shining a light on a little loved minority, and one much closer to home, was Rozálie Kohoutová’s Roma Boys, a half-hour long diaristic, semi-documentary account of persecution within a community itself already the subject of widespread and well-documented discrimination from without. If there are positives to be taken from Roma Boys, in which stifling assertions of Roma traditional family values run wholly contrary to gay self-determination, it’s that the queer Czech community would appear much more accepting of (queer) Romas in their midst than does the wider Czech society. Perhaps the queers can yet lead the way in championing an accepted place for the Roma in Czech life?

Talking heads belonging to gay parents graced a third worthy half-hour long doco, Homo Baby Boom, from Spain’s Anna Boluda. Here, a variety of mostly positive experiences are related direct-to-camera pertaining to the changes in Spanish law in 2005 allowing same-sex couples to marry and adopt. Formally very straightforward, it can nonetheless be very refreshing to catch a queer documentary which is more parts triumphant than despairing!

Supplementing these shorts, Mezipatra was well served with a bevy of feature-length documentaries. Well matched, if militantly so, to the festival’s theme, I have written about L’Ordre des Mots (Binding Words, d. Cynthia Arra & Melissa Arra, 2007) in this journal before. (3) Also on-topic, Jules Rosskam’s Against a Trans Narrative probes the nexus between historical feminism and trans-masculine identity politics through a variety of Brechtian dialogues, roundtable discussions, spoken word performances and other modes of direct-to-camera address. Recourse to various formal contrivances notwithstanding, its discourse is the stuff of queer get-togethers the Western world over, and as such, is interesting… to a point. In my experience, there’s only ever so far such dialogues go before they inevitably start spiralling deeper and deeper into themselves, chasing their own tail. Perhaps mindful of this, Against a Trans Narrative runs to just 60 minutes.

At a remove from the festival theme but much more formally innovative again was John Greyson’s dense and truly outré “documentary opera about pills, Gertrude Stein & AIDS activism”, (4) Fig Trees, which launches its sprawling, polyphonic, widescreen agitprop consideration of global inequities in access to AIDS medications from Stein and Virgil Thomson’s 1934 opera “Four Saints in Three Acts”, taking in along the way a campily mordant countdown of the Top 100 AIDS Songs of all time; interviews with, and veneration of, AIDS activists Zackie Achmat and Tim McCaskell; considerations of the contributions to the cause of U2’s Bono and the “Dollar” Bills (i.e., Gates and Clinton), and – of course – a singing albino squirrel. All this and much more in a film that, excepting Greyson’s earlier work and elements of Peter Greenaway’s, really is one-of-a-kind, is often utterly beautiful to behold, and, as a final commendation, is a must for palindrome enthusiasts!

Off-program: A Quick Gloss

Very pertinent to this year’s theme, jury member J. Jack Halberstam gave a terrific, mile-a-minute (English-only) lecture and slideshow on “Visualizing Queerness”, offering considerations of matters such as Brassaï’s photography of 1930s Paris’ lesbian bars and, according to Halberstam, his queer-denialism; Diane Arbus’ 1960s photos of gays and transvestites, and the controversies surrounding their (non-)publication, and Cecil Beaton’s photography of a tellingly doubled Gertrude Stein. She then traced a lineage from these to latter-day artists such as Cathy Opie and Halberstam’s Drag King Book co-author, Del LaGrace Volcano, before opening the discussion to the floor. I have found that Czech audiences can be quite shy about engaging in public discussions; there were no such problems here.

At the Galerie Václava Špály “The Other Kind of Blue” presented projections of Derek Jarman’s deathbed AIDS elegy Blue (1993), his posthumously compiled, 20 year-spanning Super 8 collage Glitterbug (1994) and umpteen of his video clips across several rooms abutting others featuring reponses to his work from Czech and Slovak artists across a range of media. The one to most tickle my fancy was Darina Alster’s interactive installation in the gallery’s basement, wherein several mannequins and a wide variety of garish props were assembled for visitors to play with as they saw fit, all awhile being captured for inclusion in a “continuously originating video”. (5) Fun!

GlitterbugI count myself very fortunate; I was invited to join the festival jury and other guests on a guided tour of the exhibition, during which James Mackay screened some seldom-seen Derek Jarman shorts he happened to have on his person. These included, in their compact and quicksilver entirety, Studio Bankside (1970), along with other films to have provided footage seen in Glitterbug (producer: James Mackay).

I missed a few of the off-program events – a discussion pondering the existence of a queer Czech vernacular here, another on the great conundrum of bisexuality there – so full already were my days and nights with queer festive cheer. For atop everything I’ve outlined above, parties of some description were held nightly at the Friends bar in the Old Town, with the only exception being the festival’s centrepiece party extravaganza, “Homolution”, which instead jam-packed Sacre Coeur, a gorgeous, deconsecrated 19th century church in Prague’s Smíchov district, with partying queers and provided a succession of performance pieces illustrating the imagined leaps in the evolution of homosexuality from prehistory to the postmodern current day.

Sadly – for me – at least, a tantalising and wide array of additional off-program exhibitions, (trans)gender and sexuality lectures, discussions, and, yes, more parties, were held exclusively in Brno, including one photographic exhibition, “Tělo” (“(The) Body”) which did the festival the terrific publicity service of having to change venues due to a censorious original gallery demanding its removal. Were that I could have made it to Brno too… or that some of that content might have travelled to Prague.

And So

It all came to an end with a Closing Ceremony at Kino Lucerna featuring another peculiar tableau vivant, as numerous rainbow warriors – variously fallen, falling (unscripted, I think) and standing proud – waved the flag for queer Czech culture and cinema ahead of a screening of a glorious print of Edward II. (In fact, as is the wont of Czech film festivals, Mezipatra’s business for 2009 was not, strictly speaking, finished with its Closing Night; “ozvěny” (“echoes”) of the festival reverberate around the countryside for weeks afterwards, resulting in mini-Mezipatras being staged in such destinations as Ostrava, Olomouc, Pardubice and České Budějovice.)

‘Tis a curious thing. There’s nowadays little impediment to queer Czech self-determination, for the Republic is a highly secular nation. (Well, there’s one upside to 41 years under a tyrannical regime.) Acceptance of – or, at worst, mere indifference towards – queer folk is appreciably widespread, at least in major urban areas. Yet elements of the queer community are still a little … coy. And given this year’s theme, I was disappointed to spot very few attendees working any angle of the whole transgender thang. (Mind you, anyone there really wishing to assert a trans identity has their work seriously cut out for them linguistically; the Czech language is such that a speaker cannot often help but accord themselves an explicitly male or female gender in a lot of everyday speech.)

More oddly, there is little local queer film production. And of what there was at the festival, it was a shame that it was mostly effectively out-of-bounds to me. The language barrier in this instance, I think, bespeaks an insufficiently internationalist outlook on the part of FAMU and/or the festival.

On that note, the festival really ought go to pains to ensure that all screenings and public addresses (especially introductions to films and conversations with festival guests) are at least bi-lingual, ensuring the festival’s complete offerings can be fully appreciated in Czech and in the film circuit’s lingua franca, English. (And in additional tongues where appropriate.)

In equal parts quibbles and praise, I’d like now, as I wind down, to mention the festival’s practise of featuring screenings of “minutes” of the previous day ahead of films, which is an impressive bit of daily trouble to go to and which gives a nice pocket account of festival goings-on and their flavour, albeit only in Czech and ahead of every screening, which gets tedious the second and third times in a day. All the more so as it’s always in conjunction with all the other wearisome pre-screening padding: the inevitable (rather obtuse) festival trailer and multiple sponsors’ messages.

Of the latter, it’s perhaps a little churlish of me to bemoan the Česká televize ads’ ubiquity, when they certainly earn their keep; it’s a great benison for the festival and a nation-wide audience that the national broadcaster’s website plays host to downloadable festival films in their entirety, along with trailers galore and other materials. Still, some of the others could receive a few less airings…


Overall, I had a frenetic great whale of a time, notwithstanding a sorry hiding given to my immune system along the way (partly my own fault, I dare say). Mezipatra is a vibrant and expansive festival filling a vital role in Czech film culture and in the wider society. May it long continue its homolution… I don’t doubt I’ll pop in again another time to see what it’s homolving into!


  1. According to the Weak Species official site.
  2. “I speak only a little Czech.”
  3. “A Girl’s Own Adventure, or Something – but Not the Same Thing – for Everyone: The 19th Melbourne Queer Film Festival”, Senses of Cinema, no. 51, 2009.
  4. Fig Trees press kit.
  5. From press release handed out at the exhibition, “Derek Jarman comes to life in Prague”. Also accessible on the Galerie Václava Špály website.

Mezipatra Queer Film Festival
Brno: 23-31 October, 2009
Prague: 2-8 November, 2009
Festival website: http://www.mezipatra.cz/en/

About The Author

Hailing from Aotearoa New Zealand, Cerise Howard has been Program Director of the Melbourne Queer Film Festival since May 2023. A co-curator of the Melbourne Cinémathèque for several years now, she previously co-founded the Czech and Slovak Film Festival of Australia and was its Artistic Director from 2013-2018; she was also a co-founding member of tilde: Melbourne Trans and Gender Diverse Film Festival. For five years she has been a Studio Leader at RMIT University, specialising in studios interrogating the shortcomings of the canon and incubating film festivals. She plays a mean bass guitar.

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