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What’s it like to be queer in different countries? – Manila Bulletin

For its eighth edition, ‘Five Films For Freedom’ highlights the LGBTQIA+ experience abroad

In the Philippines, the presence of the LGBTQIA+ community in mass media is as vibrant as its rainbow flag. We see queer stories told by queer creatives on different platforms, giving Filipinos a big picture of what it’s like to be part of their community. But have you ever wondered what life is like for LGBTQIA+ people abroad? Although there are themes that make their stories similar to what gay Filipinos experience,

Now in its eighth year, ‘Five Films For Freedom’, a British Council film program in partnership with BFI Flare: London LGBTQIA+ Film Festival, brings to the screen five LGBTQIA+ featurettes from China, Croatia, India, Panama and from the United Kingdom. Since 2015, “Five Films For Freedom”, dubbed the world’s largest digital LGBTQIA+ campaign, has been viewed 17 million times by people in more than 200 countries and principalities, including all regions of the world where homosexuality is criminalized, and all countries where the death penalty is in place. And for the first time, featured films will be seen by local viewers with Filipino subtitles.

“This year’s films represent an exciting selection of voices from around the world, telling stories about the queer experience that is still rarely seen in many places,” said British Council film director Briony Hanson. “As LGBTQIA+ people around the world continue to fight for human rights, #FiveFilmsForFreedom is more important than ever, carrying the message that love is a human right no matter how we identify or where we are. We can’t wait for a global audience to enjoy it.

“Five Films For Freedom is a pivotal moment in the global queer film calendar, uniting people around the world by providing free access to an incredible selection of short films,” said BFI Flare Senior Programmer Michael Blyth. “Not everyone has the same level of access to LGBTQIA+ films and images as in the UK, and this opportunity to bring queer work to millions of people remains as vital and meaningful as ever.”

This year’s film program features works by award-winning filmmakers selected by BFI Flare, exploring themes such as immigration, intimacy and isolation. Check them out below:

‘By love’

‘By love’

British-Nigerian director Joy Gharoro-Akpojotor’s short film focuses on illegal immigrant Nkechi and the unique challenges she faces due to her gender identity.

“All these sensations in my stomach”

“All these sensations in my stomach”

The animated film by Croatian cartoonist and animator Marko Dješka follows the story of trans girl Matia’s transition and her search for love.

‘Sunday’

‘Sunday’

Indian director Arun Fulura’s film examines the longing and loneliness of a middle-aged man during his weekly visit to barbers.

‘Birthday Boy (Vuelta al Sol)’

‘Birthday Boy (Vuelta al Sol)’

Panamanian Judith Corro presents in her first film as screenwriter and director a story of parents denying the identity of their son as a young trans man.

“Frozen”

“Frozen”

An experimental short, Chinese director Hao Zhou’s work combines scenes from rural Iowa and rural China to explore anxiety, dislocation and self-exile.


As in the past two years, the British Council has partnered with the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP), a strong supporter of films advocating for gender equality and anti-discrimination, to promote the digital campaign.

Global audiences are encouraged to show solidarity with LGBTQIA+ communities around the world where freedom and equal rights are limited by watching the films through the British Council Arts YouTube channeluntil March 27.

Learn more about “Five films for freedom” here.


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