Q-Munity Fights for All
The Q! Film Festival opened this year with a shift of focus. While the festival still predominantly features films that address issues faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) people in Indonesia, founding director John Badalu wanted this year’s offering to also address other issues faced by other minority groups — and through mediums other than film.
“At the beginning it was all LGBT and HIV/AIDS and we thought OK, it’s all minorities anyway so why don’t we make a minority festival,” he said at the festival’s opening at GoetheHaus on Friday.
John and members of Q-munity — an organization behind the annual film festival — have worked with The Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS) to develop the “Free Like A Bird” section, which showcases films dealing with issues such as prison overcrowding, the relationship between Koreans and Japanese and the battles faced by those who want to love each other but “call God by different names.”
“There are a lot of women’s issues, women here are very repressed. So we try to make certain [there are] sections of the festival on women’s issues, on sexual abuse and violence,” John said.
King Oey, a prominent gay rights activist and board member of Arus Pelangi, an LGBT rights organization, agrees the Q! Film Festival is moving in the right direction.
“I’m convinced that we should not look at LGBT issues on their own, [they’re] part of a bigger human rights issue that Indonesia is still struggling for,” he said.
King added that organizations involved with groups such as disabled people and religious minorities need to work together, as they have the common goal of promoting social inclusion.
“That is the way I think we have to work, in order to bring this issue to a solution.”
Also new to the festival is a series of book releases, including “Q! Stories,” an English-language anthology of 12 short stories written by Indonesians.
John says the festival’s inclusion of literature is part of its mission to reach out to a broader audience, as it also moves to address wider social issues. “We realize not all people like movies.”
On the other hand, as art mirrors queer culture, this year’s film festival also featured exhibitions at the festival including “The Napkin Boys,” a display of paper cuttings by Europe-based gay artist Carlos Franklin and “Top/Bottom?” which addresses the question of placement.
“Top/Bottom?” explores whether placement relates directly to sexuality, character identity or the “placement of an object that is a part of something.”
John says this year’s Q! Gossip discussion on how the media represents LGBT groups is likely to get very heated. “It’s more or less about how the media sees queer issues and how they present their work.
It’s very influential, the media, you say one small thing and if it’s interpreted wrong then the whole world explodes.”
At the end of the day, John says, the Q! Film Festival is just another arts event that adds a bit of spice to the flavor of Jakarta.
The festival’s logo features a chilli, a fitting symbol for the small but “hot” community the festival seeks to represent. “For us it’s a very good symbol, we are bright,” John said.
The Q! Film Festival was launched in 2002 to highlight homosexual issues through the medium of alternative film.
This year’s festival, which runs until Oct. 3, is set to showcase 150 films from more than 20 countries.
On the agenda:
“The Napkin Boys,” at CCF Salemba Jakarta runs until Oct. 3.
“Top/Bottom?” at Galeri Cipta III Taman Ismail Marzuki runs until Oct. 3
Queer vs. Media at Erasmus Huis, Sept. 30 at 7:30 p.m.
“Q! Stories” book launch – Sept. 27 at the GoetheHaus at 7:30 p.m.
For more information visit: www.q-munity.org