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News 08 Dec 16

Belgrade to Host Annual Queer Film Festival

Belgrade’s international festival of movies focusing on gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues, Merlinka, returns to the capital in December, with more than 50 must-see films.

Ivana Nikolic
BIRN
Belgrade
The documentary “Who’s Gonna Love Me Now“ will be screened on November 14. Photo: Facebook/Merlinka Festival.

Under the slogan “Say Eight” (“Reci osam”), the eighth annual Merlinka LGBT film festival opens on December 8 and runs until December 14 at Belgrade’s Dom Omladine.

Audiences will have the opportunity to see 41 short films, six feature films and ten documentaries, some of which premiered at well-known festivals such as Sundance, Berlinale and Tribeca.

On the first night of the festival, December 8 at 9pm, the audiences will have a chance to see a Brazilian feature film “Don’t Call Me Son,” directed by Anna Muylaert. The film already won a “Teddy” prize for the best feature film at this year’s Berlinale.

However, many argue that the best feature film of this year’s Merlinka is a British-American production, “Absolutely Fabulous,” which follows the lives of Edina and Patsy and is a film screen continuation of the British sitcom of the same name.

Among the most interesting documentaries is “Strike A Pose,” which tells the story of seven of Madonna’s male dancers who followed her during the controversial 1990 tour “Blond Ambition.”

There will also be a short films’ marathon, starting on Sunday, December 11, at 1pm and lasting until midnight.  

The Merlinka festival, which has been running since 2009, is named after the well-known Serbian transgender Vjeran Miladinovic, known as Merlinka, who starred in the 1995 movie by Zelimir Zilnik, “Marble Ass”.

Merlinka was killed by unknown persons on March 22, 2003, in the Belgrade suburb of Krnjaca with a sledge hammer.

The commemorative festival aims to promote LGBT visibility through film and art, and thus tackle the issue of homophobia in society.

Apart from running in Belgrade, Merlinka has spread around the region in the past several years. It was held in Montenegro for the first time in May 2014. It kicked off in Bosnia for the first time in 2013.

While the festival raises no security concerns in Podgorica and Belgrade, Sarajevo has been a bit of a problem for the members of the LGBT community attending the event.

The last Merlinka in Sarajevo, which was held held this February, took place amid fear for LGBT members’ personal security and concerns about continuing discrimination.  

Two years ago, in 2014, participants of the festival were attacked by a group of ten people who invaded the club and injured some of them, sparking criticism about the inability of the police to secure the event.

At the following events, Bosnian authorities showed more commitment towards protecting the festival. This year, too, dozens of policemen were stationed beside the club, in case of disorder.

Ticket prices range from 200-400 dinars [around €1.6-€3.2]. For more information, visit the festival’s official website www.merlinka.com.

This article was published in BIRN's bi-weekly newspaper Belgrade Insight. Here is where to find a copy.




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