By Frederick Maurice
[translated by F Young]
28 September was the beginning of ZeFestival, the next generation of the LGBT film festival of Nice in France. The French gay and lesbian magazine TÊTU met one of the organizers, who explains why he decided to focus on Arab cinema this year.
Eagerly awaited, Gaël Morel’s latest film came out on September 28 in France, and it is in Nice that the director chose to view it. Notre paradis (Our Paradise) inaugurated the fourth annual fall LGBT film festival of the Côte d'Azur, better known under the name Été Indien (Indian Summer). Or, rather, "ZeFestival" is the new name of this event, which remains faithful to its pioneering vocation.
With two or three screenings a day in various venues of Nice, eighteen feature films are on display until October 7. And, for the first time, a dozen short films will also be shown. Jacky Siret, the festival programmer who focused on Arab cinema, answers questions from TÊTU.
TÊTU: Why did you rename the “Eté indien" festival to "ZeFestival"?
Jacky Siret: It's a nod to our prestigious neighbour, the Cannes Film Festival. We thought that the [“L’Eté indien”] name was no longer really significant, that it lacked a cultural, LGBT or cinema connotation.
"ZeFestival" will allow us to make a smooth transition between “Eté indien," which is joined [to “ZeFestival”] this year so as to not lose the regulars, and the future name, which will surely be “Ze Festival LGBT de Nice” (The LGBT Festival of Nice) as early as next year...
Q: How is the film programming developed?
A: We try to identify a theme each year. Given current events and our geographical proximity to North Africa, it seemed obvious to spotlight the Arab Spring. But it is very difficult to find LGBT films dealing with the Arab condition; there are few of them.
At the Cannes Film Festival, where I sort of do my shopping, I found Quelques jours de répit (A few days of respite) by Amor Hakkar, who on Wednesday [Oct. 5], the day of its national release, will come present his film with Marina Vlady about two Iranians who cross the border.
Among the shorts, I found Hudûd, a little gem by Ariu Federico, a Belgian-Iranian. And Sunday [Oct. 2], Everett Lewis will present the world avant-première of Some Far Where, which was shot in Jordan.
Q: What are the other highlights as far as cinema is concerned?
A: In addition to the one I already mentioned, Everett Lewis will present two of his films on Sunday [Oct. 2]: Prends-moi (Take Me) and Lucky Bastard.
The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye, by Marie Losier, which is about this character who has undergone a lot of surgery to look like his girlfriend, will have its avant-première on Wednesday [Oct. 5].
Monday [Oct. 3] will be a girls night out dedicated to Maria Beatty, who will present her latest film, Return of the Post Apocalyptic Cowgirls.
On October 7, ZeFestival will close with Infidèles (Infidels), an experimental film for which the director shut himself in for the evening with a porn actor.
There will also be films never before shown in this region, such as Ausente (Absent) by Marco Berger on Thursday [Sept. 29] and l'Homme qui aurait aimé vivre sa vie (The Man who would have liked to live his Life) by Oliver Hermanus on Tuesday [Oct. 4].
Q: What is unique about ZeFestival?
A: We're fortunate to be the first of the season. This allows us to have many film scoops: five avant-premieres this year, including a world; three national showings; and nine films never shown before.
For the first time, we also offers 15 or so short films, including a gem, Mathi(eu), by Coralie Prosper, which tells the story of a college student who wants to have a sex change.
Q: And other highlights?
A: The results of the photo contest on the theme of debauchery and feelings on Saturday [Oct. 1] at 11 am, an evening concert by King’s Queer, a very edgy and crazy duo.
At noon on Sunday, brunch on the most beautiful terrace of the castle of Nice; this will be a potluck where everyone brings what they want.
Q: How do you see the LGBT cinema evolving?
A: It is modeled on current events. I saw many movies on same-sex parents last year and on transgenders this year. That’s why, on the last day, we present Roméos, for example, a very beautiful film.
Conversely, some themes have disappeared. It is no longer possible to find films about AIDS; it unfortunately seems completely out of fashion.
Are we going to have movies about homosexuality in Arab countries now? I hope so...
For more information on ZeFestival and the complete program, visit the official website of the event.