Queer Film Culture: Queer Cinema and Film Festivals

QFC_PosterInternational Conference at the University of Hamburg
14-15 October 2014
in conjunction with Lesbisch Schwule Filmtage Hamburg | International Queer Film Festival (14-19 October 2014)
with support of the Körber Fonds Nachwuchsforschung

Queer Film Culture has a long history, which directly links queer film with its specific aesthetics and politics and the film festival as a setting characteristic for its audience and community experience. The oldest LGBT/Q film festival started in San Francisco in 1977. In the early years, LGBT/Q film festivals served as safe havens for queers. They offered a counterpublic space to come together to celebrate and discuss LGBT/Q representation and art when no, or only negative, images were available in the mainstream. Since then LGBT/Q film festivals have proliferated. The 1980s saw a first wave of festivals starting up predominantly in North America and Western Europe. The late 1980s brought about many changes: the AIDS crisis spurred queer activism, the fall of the Berlin wall marked global political change with the crumbling of the Soviet bloc. In this time, the New Queer Cinema was emerging. Since then LGBT/Q film and media representation has come a long way. The cross-over success of New Queer Cinema paved the way for auteur careers and the development of a niche market. In the 1990s and 2000s the queer film festival scene has grown exponentially, covering most regions of the globe with about 200 active events on the queer film festival circuit today. LGBT/Q representation seems to be ubiquitous now – at least in the West – reaching mainstream audiences via multiplex cinemas, streaming platforms, cable network series, etc.

The queer film and festival landscape has seen vast changes in the last 25 years. On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Lesbisch Schwule Filmtage Hamburg | International Queer Film Festival we want to assess the status of queer film culture in the form of queer cinema and film festivals today. Considering the availability of queer images, are queer film festivals still necessary? The vast number of active festivals suggests they are. Then, what are the tasks and functions that queer film festivals serve for today’s queer film culture? What is shown at these events? The buzz of recent arthouse releases such as Weekend and Blue Is the Warmest Color beckons the question: What is queer cinema today? Have we reached a post-gay era of global art cinema or has a the New Wave Queer Cinema arrived?

This two-day international conference hosted by the University of Hamburg, taking place during and in conjunction with the Hamburg International Queer Film Festival will bring together film and festival studies scholars, critics and festival programmers to discuss these issues. Two keynotes delivered by Prof. B. Ruby Rich (University of California, Santa Cruz) and Dr. Marijke de Valck (University of Amsterdam) will frame the conference and bring together the fields of film festival studies and queer cinema. In three panels we will approach Queer Film Culture from various angles. In a first panel, festival scholars will present current research on LGBT/Q film festivals. In a second panel, festival programmers will discuss the current tasks and challenges of LGBT/Q film festivals. In a third panel, film scholars will assess the current trends in queer cinema.


de Valck, Marijke (2007). Film Festivals: From European Geopolitics to Global Cinephilia. Amsterdam: Amsterdam Univ. Press. ☆ Diepenbroick, Dorothée von, and Skadi Loist, eds. (2009). Bildschön: 20 Jahre Lesbisch Schwule Filmtage Hamburg. Hamburg: Männerschwarm. ☆ Galt, Rosalind, and Karl Schoonover, eds. (2010). Global Art Cinema: New Theories and Histories. New York: Oxford Univ. Press. ☆ Rich, B. Ruby (2013). New Queer Cinema: The Director’s Cut. Durham, NC: Duke Univ. Press. ☆ Walters, Ben (2012). “New-Wave Queer Cinema: ‘Gay Experience in All Its Complexity’.” The Guardian 4 Oct. 2012.

Keynote Speakers

Prof. B. Ruby Rich is Professor of Film and Digital Media at the University of California, Santa Cruz and is now the Editor of Film Quarterly. She was a member of the original Selection Committee for the Sundance Film Festival and was international programmer for the 2002 Toronto International Film Festival. She has served on juries for film festivals in Sydney, Havana, Guadalajara, and Oberhausen as well as for both Sundance and Toronto. Rich is the author of Chick Flicks: Theories and Memories of the Feminist Film Movement (Duke 1998) and New Queer Cinema: The Director’s Cut (Duke 2013).

Dr. Marijke de Valck is Associate Professor and Program Director MA Preservation and Presentation of the Moving Image at the Department of Media Studies University of Amsterdam. She is co-founder of the Film Festival Research Network (FFRN) and author of the groundbreaking monograph Film Festivals: From European Geopolitics to Global Cinephilia (Amsterdam UP 2007).


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