The 13th edition of the annual Mezipatra Queer Film Festival is fast approaching. But what are the origins of this groundbreaking event and what can we expect from this year’s programme?
The name Mezipatra translates as “mezzanine”, or the space between floors, a metaphor the organizers hope represents this annual eclectic meeting of people of all kinds. The event was first launched in 2000 in Brno under the title ‘Duha nad Brnem’ (Rainbow over Brno) with a modest programme of 8 films, 3 theatre performances, and 3 fine art exhibitions. Since then, the festival has expanded in location and content and now receives hundreds of submissions each year including feature films, documentaries, experimental, and short films, as well as hits from the key international film festivals such as Toronto or Cannes. The event currently attracts audiences of around 10,000 people annually.
Festival director Aleš Rumpel explained the choice of this year’s three event themes: ‘Power’, ‘Manipulation’, and ‘Madness’: “we chose the themes because the clash of an individual with an institution is not unique, and we experience it regularly, no matter if we are members of a minority or not.” He added that “the word ‘queer’ in the title of the festival symbolizes colourfulness, diversification and freedom from the traditional perception of sexual and gender identities.”
So, what are the ‘must see’ films at this year’s festival? Programme Director Lucia Kajánková gave us her top tips:
In a special retrospective section called ‘The Dark Kingdom’, you can catch the biographical drama ‘Prick Up Your Ears’ by director Stephen Frears, starring Gary Oldman and Alfred Molina, and the 1992 Oscar‐winning thriller ‘The Crying Game’, by Neil Jordan, starring Forest Whitaker and Stephen Rea.
The Prague programme will open with an impressionable film ‘Cloudburst’, which is a combination of a comedy, romance, and road movie. “In the unbelievable story of two pensioners who come to Canada to affirm their 31-year relationship, the audience won’t know if they are crying from laughter or emotion,” says Kajánková. The screening will be presented by the film’s director, Thom Fitzgerald, whose other film The Hanging Garden will be the third and last piece of the retrospective section.
‘Laurence Anyways’ is the new, eagerly anticipated creation from audience and critical, favourite, the ‘enfant terrible’ of world cinema, Xavier Dolan. The 23-year-old ‘wonder boy’, with his unusual hairstyles and idiosyncratic filmmaking methods, was introduced to Mezipatra with his previous films ‘J’ai tué ma mère’ and ‘Les amours Imaginaires’. Dolan´s third film is a top tribute to love, the nineties, and the performance of Melvill Poupaud in the role of a man who views himself as a woman. Kajánková predicts it will be a very popular screening “The film is quite long, it lasts three hours, but it is impossible to leave before the end comes.”
Another big festival documentary is the film ‘How to Survive the Plague’ about the people who changed history during the AIDS epidemic, or American indie comedy ‘My Best Day’, which is full of bizarre little figures. Also look out for the relationship‐centered dramas ‘Keep the Lights On’, directed by Ira Sachs, screened at Toronto, or ‘Hors les Murs’, screened at Cannes.
In addition to the many screenings, a variety of non-film events will be taking place throughout the festival including Expats.cz top party tip ’Paris Burns’, a high-fashion event inspired by the legendary 90s documentary ‘Paris is Burning’. Put on your top SWAG (Secretly We Are Gay) and enjoy Saturday night in style. Expect vogue-ing, flaming dance floors and swagging ‘til sunrise!
Saturday 10 November, Palace Illusion, Vinohradská 48, Praha 2, 21:00 – 05:00. Dress code: ‘Defend your style’
You can also catch an unconventional party at Bio Oko entitled “from sunset to sunrise,” and many interesting lectures at Gallery Langhans and Queer Café.
Full programme listings can be found on the event website www.mezipatra.cz
All films are English-friendly (in English language or with English subtitles).
Mezipatra Queer Film Festival
8 – 14 November in Prague and 16 – 22 November in Brno
Lucerna and Světozor cinemas, plus various other venues around the city