Posted on Fri 04 Nov by AlexK / scruff, bullying, homophobia, LGBT rights

At this year’s festival we pay tribute to one of the major tragedies this year - June’s shocking attack on one of our safe spaces in Orlando - by telling both fictional and factual global stories of LGBT rights, fighting homophobia and resilience in the face of bullying in our strand Overcome. These diverse accounts feature Check It, a revolutionary queer street gang in Washington DC; a father seeking justice for his gay son in Chile to prove You’ll Never Be Alone; and a young Cuban hairdresser rekindles the relationship with his estranged, homophobic father while finding himself through the power of drag in our opening film Viva.


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- Tuesday 15 November - Rio Cinema
Dir Paddy Breathnach / Ireland 2015 / 100 min

Jesus, a young hairdresser, works at a Havana drag cabaret club to make ends meet. He dreams of one day becoming a perfomer himself. Encouraged by his mentor, Mama, Jesus finally gets his chance to take the stage. But when his estranged father Angel abruptly reenters his life, his world is quickly turned upside down. As father and son clash over their opposing expectations of each other, Viva develops into a love story as they struggle to understand one another and reconcile as a family.

Viva is a moving drama that packs an emotional punch with its portrayal of families, from those we adopt to those we are born into while illustrating the every day struggles of ordinary Cubans and the transformative power of drag.

Check It - Thursday 17 November - The Institute of Light
Dir-Prod Dana Flor & Toby Oppenheimer / USA 2016 / 91min

In this spirited and raw documentary, Washington D.C street gang Check It (claimed as the only documented queer gang in the world) are thrown onto the world stage as they struggle to survive and claw their way out of gang life through an unlikely avenue: fashion.

Chronicling the birth of the gang in response to overwhelming homophobia and violence, Check It invites us to consider (non-judgementally) how to build a community and identity when danger lurks around every corner. In a time when the streets of many American cities seem to be on fire, this is a vital story that commands our attention.

You’ll Never Be Alone - Sunday 20 November - Rio Cinema
Dir Alex Anwandter / Chile 2016 / 82min

Dance student Pablo lives with his father Juan, a manager at a mannequin factory, in their drab, homophobic suburb of Santiago. He has a secret affair with a member of the neighbourhood's street gang and dreams of starring in his favourite reality TV show with his best friend Mari, while his father struggles to become partner in the company he worked at for the last 25 years. One night, Juan and Pablo's lives change forever, and for the first time, Juan faces the harsh reality his son experiences on a daily basis.

Alex Anwandter’s stunning debut is based on true events which led the Chilean government to enact the country’s first anti-discrimination laws.


Other films grappling with these themes are the super steamy Utopians and that rarest of gems, a comedy dealing with the topic, A Little Lust.

Utopians - Saturday 19 November - Rio Cinema
Dir Scud / Hong Kong 2015 / 87min

Set amongst the stunning backdrop of the Hong Kong skyline Utopians follows the story of Hins, a 21 years old student, who lusts after his lecturer despite his Catholic girlfriend’s hostility towards him, causing them both to delve into their untapped desires. Sexy, romantic and sweet this pansexual treat whets all appetites with full frontal nudity, philosophical ruminations and seriously lush cinematography while providing an insightful view on how homosexuality is discussed in contemporary Chinese society. 

A Little Lust - Wednesday 16 November - Genesis Cinema
Dir. Veronica Pivetti / Italy / 2015 / 104min 

16 year old Rocco's two aims in life are to get laid and to see his favourite pop star in concert with his best friends, sassy and tomboyish Maria and nerdy and quiet Mauri. When a  bullying incident at school forces Rocco to come out to his divorced middle-class parents their liberal leanings are severely tested. Luckily his two friends stand by him and join him in running away from home (in his parents stolen car) to see their favourite singer in concert, followed hot on their heels by his neurotic mother and eccentric gran to hilarious effect.

Presented in partnership with CinemaItaliaUK