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International Queer & Migrant Film Festival

by Teun Botterweg
Interview, Actuality


The second edition of the International
Queer & Migrant Film Festival started on the 7th of December. Until the 16th of December various pictures in the theme of the festival are to be seen, in several cites in the Netherlands, like Amsterdam and Rotterdam. GayRotterdam talks with Chris Belloni, the director of the International Queer & Migrant Film Festival. What has driven him to establish the festival?

"When I visited the Queer & Migrant Film Festival in Vienna, I saw that the Netherlands really needed such a festival. Gay film festivals already existed here, but these focused too much on white middle-aged men. That is why I set up the IQMF in the Netherlands. Last year was the first edition; a week in Amsterdam and one day, both in Rotterdam and Utrecht. I want to gradually develop it further. The films are a bit of a niche, but then again, we have a programme that can fill five days in Amsterdam."

And, was the first edition somewhat successful?
"It was really nice to see how people of various origin and ages were sitting together. That was also the reason why the festival in Vienna was so successful. The films that we screened came from all over the world, so, there is sufficient diversity. However, the film festival particularly focusses on Western-European producers. We do not really mean to, but Western-European producers have more budged and produce more films.

This year the focus of the IQMF in Amsterdam is on Latin-American themed movies, but in Rotterdam, films with other backgrounds than the Latin-American one are shown. So we have a film about two teenage girls, of which one Afghan girl, who fall in love with each other. This film is not only about homophobia but also about Islamophobia. For a short film, it is very clever and cunning. After that there will be a film about a transsexual woman from Uganda, where their hard but sometimes mundane life is pictured. That fact makes the film really special. Spa Night is also a very good movie, about a Korean-American boy who discovers the - for him unknown - gay scene during his work in a Korean bath house."


We understood that you also made some films yourself, Chris?
"Yes, that is correct. My films are also regularly screened on festivals, including the one in Vienna. I do also often program for film festivals. For example I developed the programme for the first queer film festival on the Antilles. Before this event, there never had been a similar festival, so that was a great step ahead.

One of the films I produced is about LGBT's from Paramaribo in Amsterdam, and the question whether or not they could better emancipate there, because Amsterdam offers more freedom. Next to that I am doing a film collage about LGBT policemen. This film will be released in the summer of 2017. It is quite interesting to see how they convulse when they put on their uniform."

How exactly do you select all those films for the IQMF?
Together with eight wonderful programmers from all over the world, amongst which from Chile, Bangladesh, Brazil and Lebanon, we select the films which we think fit best to the festival theme. These for example, are films that we have seen in other festivals. Because of the programmers' work, I have seen films which I would never have thought of myself, so that gives a lot of variation.


Will we see the International Queer & Migrant Film Festval again next year? 
In any case, the plan is to take an additional day for the festival in Rotterdam next year, and to roll out the festival to other cities. We observe real interest, so we will definitely continue with it. We have gained our fair share of popularity by now."


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For more information about the IQMF, please visit the website.

Want to know more about Chris Belloni and his work? Have a look at his website (in Dutch).