The Queer Africa strand was a focused strand in the 2018 edition of Africa in Motion Film Festival and in their year round programme, focusing on showcasing LGBTQ+ films from Africa and the diaspora.
The Queer Africa strand was a focused strand in the 2018 edition of Africa in Motion Film Festival and in our year round programme focusing on showcasing LGBTQ+ films from Africa and the diaspora. The project brought together a diverse team of curators to shape the programme and curate films and events. We specifically worked with LGTBQ+ curators of colour as we believe people are the experts of their own lived experiences and this was essential in ensuring we had a diverse programme that reflected a multitude of experience and narratives. Events combined film and food, music, performance and moving image and discussion to create a rich programme that catered to a wide and diverse audience.
Working with a combination of curators and different community groups, we put on ten events between October and March that examined different facets of LGBTQ+ life in Africa and the diaspora. This included sold out screenings of Wanuri Kahiu’s debut feature Rafiki at the Filmhouse in Edinburgh and Glasgow Film Theatre, a night of music, performance and film by Scottish LGBTQ+ artists of African heritage at Transmission Gallery.
We held an alternative Valentine’s meal at the Project Café, working with community kitchen Küche to put on an event titled “We’ll Cherish You”, featuring three short films that celebrated love in different ways, accompanied by a three-course meal inspired by a St Valentine’s feast.
In Dundee we worked with scholars in Film Studies from the University of Dundee to organise a screening of Rafiki in celebration of Dundee’s first Pride. The screening was followed with the screening followed by a panel discussion with experts in African and Film Studies and organisers of Pride. As part of the pride celebration, we also screened the Kenyan film Stories of Our Lives. Both were well received by audiences.
We also worked with DJ duo Scotch Bonnet to put on a screening of The Watermelon Woman by Cheryl Dunye. This screening was followed by a discussion with Scotch Bonnet about why they had chosen the film and audience members discussed what they enjoyed about the film.
We worked with community organisations to programme films in their organisations using our mobile screen. This ensured we were able to bring films into community venues, ensuring people felt safe and comfortable in a space they were already familiar with.
For events in the strand, we had a taxi fund for trans audience members to utilise to get home from events held at night. This was an acknowledgement that trans people face higher levels of violence and was a measure to curb this.
Empower LGBTQ+ curators of colour to programme events
Attract a young, ethnically diverse audience
Highlight Scotland’s LGBTQ+ African community and its history
Create a safe space for LGBTQ+ audiences in Scotland
Make the general public aware of African LGBTQ+ heritage
81% of attendees were between the age of 16 and 30, meaning we were able to reach a young audience with the strand
The audience was comprised of 28% People of Colour
86% of attendees identified as LGBTQ+
Programmers involved in the project are now working for our main festival as part of the programming team
The project included nine films – a mixture of shorts, features and documentaries. Highlights included Wanuri Kahiu’s feature Rafiki, Upon the Shadow – a documentary about the lives of LGBTQ+ people in Algeria and a screening of Cheryl Dunye’s seminal film The Watermelon Woman.
We partnered with Scotch Bonnet, a DJ duo and club night, GMAC Film, Maryhill Integration Network, Transmission Gallery and the University of Dundee.
Budget in brief
Film Hub Scotland funding £5,000.00
Projected Box Office £600.00
Grants or awards from other funding bodies or foundations £1,400.00
Creative Scotland funding allowed us to subsidise the project, as well as some income from box office.
Enabled us to work with a diverse team and give them curatorial agency. These curators are now working with AiM on our programming team.
Diversified the audience make up of our festival and reached new audiences
What has been difficult
It was difficult to research film rights for the strand because the distribution network for queer African cinema can feel disjointed.
Would have been useful to be able to put more of our resources into programme research, but our budget didn’t allow for this.
What you would do differently if you did it again
Put more accessibility measures in places making travel costs available for everyone and including captioning and audio description on the whole programme
Awareness / Attitudes
We showed films illustrating a multitude of queer experiences, highlighting issues LGBTQ communities face in Africa and the diaspora. We believe that showing these films and facilitating discussion around them is a catalyst for change.
As well as this, film is an important tool in being able to show insight into other peoples lives. This was super important for us in programming a strand looking at queer heritage – being able to provide an access point to overlooked histories.
The strand was conceived by a queer woman of colour who worked with other members of LGBTQ communities of colour to programme the events. This was a direct response to the underrepresentation of LGBTQ PoC in film programming and was a chance for those people to gain new skills in film programming and events organisation.
From experience, we know working with people from the audiences that we are trying to grow is the best way to develop them and this was reflected in the diversity of our audience figures.
Knowledge & Experience
We worked largely with programmers who were between the ages of 18-30 and gave them skills that they are now able to use in different contexts. Programmers have gone on to do other curatorial and programming work for Africa in Motion and other organisations. By giving young people the freedom, resources and support to programme their own events, we help to nurture the next generation of creative talent.
We showed films illusrating a multitude of queer experience, highlighting issues LGBTQ communities face in Africa and the diaspora. We believe that showing these films and facilitating discussion around them is a catalyst for change.
As well as this, film is an important tool in being able to show insight into other peoples lives. This was super important for us in programming a strange looking at queer heritage – being able to provide an access point to overlooked histories.
Although the project didn’t actively target impact on health, an increased sense of wellbeing was experienced by both programming participants and audience members, who were enriched by the films shown and diverse opportunities for conversation that arose.
Providing an open space for people to share their experiences and views was essential in facilitating dialogue that was enriching to everyone involved, allowing a multiplicity of voice and experience to be communicated.
We organised private screenings with targeted community groups, providing free screenings in spaces that they usually meet in.
Acknowledging that people from low income communities don’t always have access to film screenings, it was therefore important this was a key element of what we did. We were also aware that some of the people in the groups we were working with were refugees and asylum seekers, with no recourse to funds, so it was important that we were able to provide support to them in the form of transport costs and catering.
The majority of the events in the strand were free, meaning that ticket prices were not a barrier to access.
What audiences said
Fantastic event and film. It is incredibly important that events such as these (and all of those across AiM continue to happen
Really good film - have wanted to see it for so long, so very excited to have the opportunity
Very thought provoking
What professionals, press and partners said
It was great to partner with AiM on the event KIBURI at Transmission Gallery. It gave us the opportunity to connect artists in our network with new audiences and build new relationships.