Sunday, May 29, 2011

Painting the Spectrum 2011 : SASOD's Seventh Lesbian and Gay Film Festival

Painting the Spectrum 7 : Schedule of Films

Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays from Monday 6 June, 2011 to Wednesday 29 June, 2011

Venue : Sidewalk Cafe, Middle Street, Georgetown Guyana
Programme starts at 7pm each Night

Monday 6 June, 2011
First public screening of My Wardrobe , My Right

SASOD/Neil Marks, Guyana, 2011, 20 minutes, colour, documentary, English

“My Wardrobe, My Right” explores the issues related to the criminalization of cross-dressing in Guyana. It captures the stories of Peaches and Gulliver, two of the cross-dressers who were victims of the February 2009 crackdowns and the views of SASOD and one of the human rights attorneys, Gino Persaud, representing the litigants in the constitutional suit against Guyana’s laws which penalise cross-dressing. The film's producer is Neil Marks. Support for the film was received from the Caribbean Treatment Action Group (CTAG)

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

Stephen Elliot, Australia, 1994, 104 minutes, colour, drama/comedy, English
A bus named Priscilla, and three drag queens who are travelling across the Australia Outback in search of work. This the story of their adventures as they meet different people and individuals. The Adventures of Priscilla stars Hugo Weaving, Guy Pearce, and Terence Stamp and is a cult classic in Australia and
Winner of Oscar for Best Costume Design
This film was recommended by an Australian supporter of SASOD, Dr David Plummer and other members.

Tuesday 7 June, 2011

L-word Season 1 - Episodes 1 to 4

Ilene Chaiken and others, USA, 2004, colour, TV series, English

L-Word was a television series that ran on Showtime from 2004 to 2009. The series follows the lives of a group of lesbian, bisexual and transgender people
These opening episodes were nominated by Natasha Yhapp and other members of SASOD who have enjoyed different seasons.

More information..

Wednesday 8 June, 2011
Rag Tag
Adaora Nwandu, (Nigeria/UK ), 2006 , colour, drama, 110 minutes, English

The film was donated by Director Adaora Nwandu for the 2007 film festival but the DVD was damaged. This DVD donated by Dion Pelham

Raymond (aka Ray) and Tagbo (aka Tag) have a friendship forged in childhood. Ray is from a single-parent West Indian home and Tag is the pride of middle-class Nigerian parents. The two are inseparable until Social Services discovers Rag's mother isn't around and he's taken far from his London home to Birmingham. A decade passes. Tag is finishing law school and, despite incredible grades, can't find a firm willing to hire him. Meanwhile, Rag returns to London and finds his old friend. Their lives and circumstances have changed, but their rekindled friendship is more intense than ever. Once based on bonds of an innocent camaraderie, now their feelings have grown into something far more complex and confusing. As tensions build, the two realize they both must decide how far they're willing to go to satisfy the newfound urges they can't explain. The film stars Daniel Parsons, Adedamola Adelaja and Tamsin Clarke

Monday 13 June, 2011

Saving Face
Alice Wu, USA, 2004, colour, romance/drama, 91 minutes, English/Mandarin with subtitles
Wilhelmina Pang, a lesbian Chinese-American surgeon, is shocked when her single mother shows up on her doorstep pregnant. To help her mom save face and avoid the taboo in the Chinese community of an unmarried woman pregnant, the doctor helps her mom find Mr. Right while at the same time dealing with her own relationship. The film stars Michelle Krusiec, Joan Chen and Lynn Chen

Tuesday 14 June, 2011

Jonah Markowitz, USA, 2007, colour, romance/drama, 88 minutes, English

Forced to give up his dreams of art school, Zach spends his days working a dead-end job and helping his needy sister care for her son. In his free time he surfs, draws and hangs out with his best friend, Gabe, who lives on the wealthy side of town. When Gabe's older brother, Shaun, returns home, he is drawn to Zach's selflessness and talent. Zach falls in love with Shaun while struggling to reconcile his own desires with the needs of his family
The filme was the winner of "Outstanding Film – Limited Release" at the 2009 GLAAD Media Awards, Best New Director and Favorite Narrative Feature at the Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival, and the People's Choice Award for Best Feature at the Vancouver Queer Film Festival. Shelter represents the feature directorial debut of Markowitz. The main actors are Trevor Wright, Brad Rowe and Tina Holmes

This film was recommended by a donor to the festival who wanted to remain anonymous. In his words, he said that "it is good to see a nice film with gay characters which does not end with someone dying.."

Wednesday 15 June, 2011

Yair Hochner, Israel, 2008, colour, drama/comedy, 110 minutes, Hebrew with English subtitles
Antarctica follows the lives of a group of young people living in Tel Aviv . Omer is almost thirty and still hasn’t found himself — or the man of his dreams. A series of disastrous blind dates hasn’t helped. Shirley is a little younger and has already nabbed her dream woman, Michal. As the siblings sort through their feelings and prepare for adulthood, friends and relatives chime in with their advice and problems of their own.

Watch the trailer..

Monday 20 June, 2011

Boy Culture
Q Allan Brocka, USA, 2006, colour, drama, 88 minutes, English
'X' is a successful male escort who describes in a series of confessions his tangled romantic relationships with his two roommates and an older, enigmatic client. This film is based on the 1995 novel of the same name by Matthew Rettenmund. The film stars Derek Magyar as 'X', Patrick Bachau and Darryl Stephens. Boy Culture received several awards at various film festivals and has been screened at major LGBT festivals around the world

Tuesday 21 June, 2011

Viola di mare (Sea Purple)

Donatella Maiorca, 2009, Italy, colour, drama/history/romance, 105 minutes, Italian with english subtitles

Viola di mare is a sensous film based on a little known European tradition of women who dressed and lived as men.. for various reasons. The film is set in 19th century Sicily and revolves around Angela (Valeria Solarino) and her attraction to her best friend Sara (Isabella Ragonese). Angela becomes Angelo as a way to deal with the scorn of her family , church and society. The film is based on a true story, adapted from the novel Minchia di Re by Giacomo Pilati.

Wednesday 22 June, 2011

Desert Hearts Donna Deitch, 1985, USA, colour. romance, 96 minutes,
It is 1950's Nevada and Vivian Bell (played by Helena Shaver), an English professor at Columbia University, travels to Nevada to establish six-week residency to obtain a divorce. She stays at a guest house for women waiting for their divorces to be finalized, and then establishes a friendship with the free-spirited ranch owner Cay Rivvers (Patricia Charbonneau). The film was praised for its photography of the Nevada scenery. The film received a few nominations, and was commended for the way in which portrayed a happy relationship between two women.

Watch the trailer

Monday 27 June, 2011

Difficult Love,
Zanele Muholi and Peter Goldsmid, 2010, South Africa, documentary, 57 minutes
Difficult Love’ is a highly personal take on the challenges facing Black lesbians in South Africa today emerges through the life, work, friends and associates of ‘visual activist’ and internationally celebrated photographer, Zanele Muholi.
Video available at IMDB

Voices of Witness Africa

Cynthia Black & Katie Sherrod, U.S.A./Uganda/Kenya/Rwanda, 2009, 30 min., colour, documentary, in English with no subtitles.
Anglican women and men from across Africa tell their stories of intolerance and community, of secrecy and hope, of facing challenges and seeking dignity as LGBT people of faith. This film was donated by the Voice of Witness producers to the 2010 Film Festival. Read more..

Tuesday 28 June, 2011

Spectrum Celebration
Our annual evening of poetry, praise, song, dance and whatever form people want to celebrate the struggles and survival of LGBT people from around the world.

Wednesday 29 June, 2011
Joel Schumacher, 1999 , USA, colour, comedy/drama, 112 minutes

Walt Koontz (Robert De Niro) is a homophobic "local hero" officer of the New York police department who lives in a downtown apartment complex. He suffers a stroke and is advised to take singing lessons. His neighbour, Rusty(Phillip Seymour-Hoffman) is a pre-op transgenderist who needs money for the operation. The two dislike each other but need each other...

Thank You to ....
For Film nominations, donation and selection :-

  • Sherlina Nageer
  • Natasha Yhapp
  • Mark Ross
  • Stacey Gomes
  • Paula Fraser
  • Dion Pelham
  • Korey Chisholm
  • Keimo Benjamin

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Text of British High Commissioner, His Excellency Simon Bond's Remarks at IDAHO Event Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen.

I’m very pleased to be here on the occasion of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) and for the launch of the video “My Wardrobe, My Right” by SASOD and partners.

The first question some of you might be asking yourselves is what is a diplomat doing at an event like this?

The short answer is “why not?”.

There is a school of thought – with perhaps some adherents in Guyana – which seems to liken diplomats to children in the Victorian era, that is, that they “should be seen and not heard”.

A more realistic view is that the role of diplomats is to represent their country’s interests and to promote their country’s values.

And that is why I am here today.

The UK opposes all forms of violence and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people as a matter of principle.

We believe that human rights are universal and that LGBT people should be free to enjoy the rights and freedoms to which people of all nations are entitled.

Discrimination is never acceptable. The UK is committed to combating violence and discrimination against LGBT

people as an integral part of the UK’s international human rights work.

So British embassies and High Commissions overseas are encouraged to support the efforts of civil society organisations to change attitudes by supporting anti-discrimination events, such as the marking today of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.

Of course the UK has not always held these positions. Britain, like almost every other country, used to have discriminatory legislation and practices against LGBT people until relatively recently.

And those laws and attitudes, of course, were reflected in the way Britain administered its former colonies. So, we clearly have some historical responsibility for the legislation that countries like Guyana inherited at independence.

But the UK has been moving in the right direction for some time:

- It was fully 44 years ago, in 1967, that the British parliament passed the Sexual Offences Act which decriminalized homosexual acts in private by consenting men.

- In 1972 there was the first Gay Pride March in London

- In 2000 the UK equalised the age of consent between LGBT and non-LGBT people at age 16;

- In 2004 we passed the Civil Partnership Act which provided significant legal rights for same sex couples

This is not now a party political issue in the UK. All UK political parties have senior members who are openly lesbian and gay and all parties strongly support the promotion of LGBT rights.

The current Conservative/Liberal coalition Government in the UK took a further major step forward in 2010 when Prime Minister David Cameron launched “Working for Lesbian, Gay , Bisexual and Transgender Equality” to ensure a more coordinated approach to the UK’s work in breaking down barriers that exist for LGBT people both at home and abroad. This has been followed this year with an Action Plan with specific commitments covering areas like education, employment, sport and culture.

Of course I am not suggesting that the UK is perfect. London is one of the most cosmopolitan and liberal cities in the world but there are still problems with anti-gay propaganda.

But we are getting there.

Internationally the picture remains mixed and very challenging.

Homosexuality remains illegal in around 80 countries. Shockingly it is punishable by death in seven countries: Iran, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, Yemen and Nigeria.

As I mentioned we are well aware of the legacy of British colonial laws prohibiting homosexual acts. Sadly those laws have not been changed in many countries and again, shockingly to me, some 43 Commonwealth countries still criminalise homosexual behaviour.

It’s fair to say that the international community continues to struggle to fully recognise the rights of LGBT people and many countries, including many in the Organisation of Islamic Conference, in Africa and the Caribbean continue to actively block promotion of LGBT rights in international fora.

The arguments for this approach tend to be based on religion, morality and culture and that LGBT issues are somehow a “Western thing”.

Customs and traditions are constantly changing. This happens everywhere. There was a time of course when women were treated as inferior to men in every culture and tradition.

Culture and tradition cannot justify denying people their rights. Homosexuality exists among all people and has done so since the start of recorded history. It was not something invented, or practised only in the West.

The UK recognises of course that these are sensitive issues.

It is important to strike a balance between religious freedoms and the rights of LGBT people not to be discriminated against.

But human rights are universal. They cannot be subject to different interpretations of morality. States have an obligation to ensure that laws guarantee the same rights to everyone regardless of sexuality.

And sometimes that means Governments need to lead their people, not simply to follow public opinion.

Although the picture in the Caribbean on LGBT issues may not always seem bright, among Guyana’s neighbours to the South it is often different. Brazil’s Supreme Court recently recognized the legal rights of same sex unions. Argentina and Uruguay also recognise such rights. So, not just decriminalising sexual acts which they did many years ago but recognising legal and financial rights.

The Government of Guyana committed at the Universal Periodic Review at the UN in Geneva in May last year to “hold consultations on this issue over the next two years”. We encourage progress on that and an open and constructive debate.

I want to wish you well in your activities to mark this important day and for the success of the documentary.

Thank you very much.

Monday, May 16, 2011

International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia (IDAHO) 2011

SASOD launches cross-dressing documentary and ‘soft’ launches quarterly newsletter for International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia (IDAHO)
WHO: SASOD with support from the Caribbean Treatment Action Group (CTAG)
WHAT: Launch of “My Wardrobe, My Right” video documentary and ‘soft’ launch of the inaugural edition of quarterly newsletter, “Spectrum Vibes,” with feature remarks by His Excellency Simon Bond, British High Commissioner to Guyana
WHERE: Sidewalk Café & Jazz Club, 176 Middle Street, Georgetown
WHEN: International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia (IDAHO), Tuesday, May 17 at 10:00 hrs
WHY: SASOD with support from CTAG, the regional funding and advocacy mechanism of the Collaborative Fund for HIV Treatment Preparedness - A Project of the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition (ITPC) and TIDES Network – is producing a series of video documentaries. On the occasion of IDAHO 2011, SASOD launches the first in the series, “My Wardrobe, My Right” which examines the criminalization of cross-dressing in Guyana. SASOD also takes the opportunity of IDAHO to ‘soft’ launch the inaugural issue of its quarterly newsletter, “Spectrum Vibes,” which is dedicated to the life and work of the late Dr. Robert Carr, who passed away last week. Dr. Carr was the director of advocacy and policy of the International Council of AIDS Service Organisations (ICASO), co-chair of the Global Forum on MSM and HIV (MSMGF), founder, co-chair and first executive director of the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC), former executive director of Jamaica AIDS Support and former coordinator of the Graduate Studies Unit at the Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication (CARIMAC) University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, among many other affiliations.

Information Note on IDAHO Launch of “My Wardrobe, My Right” Video Documentary
What is IDAHO?
On May 17, over 50 countries around the world celebrate the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO), marking the anniversary of one of the most powerful steps in advancing human rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people globally – the declassification of homosexuality as a mental illness by the World Health Organization 21 years ago. IDAHO is recognized by the State in a number of countries, including Brazil and Cuba, which includes a month of government-sponsored activities, and is observed in Jamaica and in Guyana, this year for the sixth year. IDAHO is a global collaboration to take local action to engage violence, stigma, unequal treatment and state oppression, including criminal laws, that target people on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity. It is an occasion to call for and demonstrate political action, to build public awareness, and to mobilize alliances within and across borders. The international celebration of a day against homophobia was spearheaded by a Caribbean man, Martiniquan Georges-Louis Tin.
What is this SASOD/CTAG video-documentary about?
The goal is to create a more supportive socio-cultural environment for sexual and gender minorities through public education efforts which aim to mitigate stigma faced by these marginalized groups. It aims to create a supportive infrastructure by building a more enabling socio-cultural environment which encourages ordinary people to embrace these groups who are stigmatized because of sexual taboos and gender non-conformity. It is envisaged that this locally-made film, which can have a wide reach and mass appeal, will buttress other ongoing efforts to build supportive infrastructure through policy and law reform, training and skills-building by various stakeholders. Film technology provides an invaluable tool to humanize these taboo issues in mainstream television media and address sensitive areas where lack of knowledge is pervasive among Guyanese and Caribbean people.
Guyana’s laws criminalise cross-dressing. Section 153 (1) (xlvii) of the Summary Jurisdiction (Offences) Act Chapter 8:02 which makes an offence of “being a man, in any public way or public place, for any improper purpose, appears in female attire, or being a woman, in any public way or public place, for any improper purpose, appears in male attire… ” This antiquated piece of legislation dates back to the 19th century, colonial period, but is still being selectively enforced today – in the 21st century. In 2006, Ronell Trotman, better known as ‘Pertonella,’ a cross-dressing sex worker, was fined for vagrancy and wearing female attire; $5000 for each offence (Stabroek News, Tuesday 16 May 2006). And then between February 6 and 10, 2009, police detained at least eight people, some of them twice, charging seven of them under section 153 (1) (xlvii) of the Summary Jurisdiction (Offences) Act Chapter 8:02. The first arrests took place on February 6, when plainclothes policemen detained three persons in downtown Georgetown, near Stabroek Market. On February 7, the police detained five more. In both occasions, the then acting Chief Magistrate Melissa Robertson fined the detainees GY$7,500 each. On February 10, the police detained four people; three of whom had been among those arrested on February 6 and 7. In court, when handing down the sentence, the then acting Chief Magistrate Robertson told the detainees they were not women but men and exhorted them to “go to church and give their lives to Christ.”
Laws which penalize cross-dressing effectively criminalize persons whose ways of expressing themselves, in their manner of dressing, goes against certain stereotypical expectations for gender roles. In this regard, dressing, as a form of gender expression, is a question of freedom of expression. Laws against cross-dressing therefore violate the right to freedom of expression, as all persons have the right to express their gender freely through the way in which they dress. These insidious provisions should therefore be urgently expunged from the law books given their contravention of basic, democratic freedoms.
On February 19, 2010, the eve of World Day of Social Justice, four cross-dressers and SASOD filed a notice of motion before the Supreme Court of Judicature for redress claiming, among other relief, to have section 153(1)(xlvii) of the Summary Jurisdiction (Offences) Act, Chapter 8:02, invalidated as irrational, discriminatory, undemocratic, contrary to the rule of law and unconstitutional. The matter is sub judice, presently before the High Court.
“My Wardrobe, My Right” explores these issues related to the criminalization of cross-dressing in Guyana. It captures the stories of two of the cross-dressers who were victims of the February 2009 crackdowns and the views of SASOD and one of the human rights attorneys representing the litigants in the constitutional suit against Guyana’s laws which penalise cross-dressing.