Case Study: Glitch Film Festival: powerful film by LGBTIQA+ people of colour

Glitch Film Festival corridor

GLITCH Film Festival is vital, ground-breaking and unique. Our programming focus centres around LGBTIQA+ people of colour. It encompasses either films/artists moving image created by LGBTIQA+ people of colour on any subject or films that feature/document LGBTIQA+ people of colour made by directors of any identity.

Focusing on works made by LGBTIQA+ people of colour creates space to explore our passions and preoccupations in areas other than sexuality and gender. However we know our audiences are hungry for overt depiction of queer lives and the majority of our programme continues to directly include this. We demonstrate as a festival, as in turn the multiple successes of our opening film Moonlight did on a larger scale, that films focusing on experiences of LGBTIQA+ people of colour can captivate the attention of people from all backgrounds.

GLITCH 2017 ran over 9 days and included 48 film screenings and events.

  • #GLITCH2017

Why this matters

GLITCH matters because LGBTIQA+ people of colour are hugely under-represented (and misrepresented) in the mediums of film and TV; both in terms of on screen depictions and access to the means of production. Despite these obstacles significant numbers of LGBTIQA+ people of colour create powerful films and artists pieces that deserve audience and critical attention. We have a passionate commitment to creating an international platform for these works via thoughtful curation and holding respectful space for discussion.

We believe the value we place upon films that speak to the specificities and relevancy of LGBTIQA+ people of colour's lives encourages a sense of possibility, connection and inspiration and creates a legacy that encourages participation in the arts. We also hope the demonstration of curatorial quality within our programming focus positively influences the film industry to encompass more diversity; in terms of on screen representation, exhibition and access to production resources and job positions.

With our free cost entry, extensive subtitling of films, complete availability of audio loops, provision of BSL for all live components of the festival and commitment to screening in wheelchair accessible venues we played a constructive role in enabling greater access in film exhibition.

Project aims

  • To create an international platform for powerful film, artists moving image & art created by LGBTIQA+ people of colour
  • To bring great film that illuminates the lives of LGBTIQA+ people from around the world to Scottish audiences
  • To create a welcoming, fun and accessible film festival for everyone
  • To challenge racism, sexism, transphobia, homophobia, ableism and financial exclusion within the film industry and society at large
  • To run a film festival that creates a special solidarity, sparkle and interest for people of colour and/or LGBTIQA+ people
  • To bring people from many backgrounds together in a respectful environment
  • To generate discussion about film, art and important issues

Headlines

  • We increased the diversity of film/artist moving image available to audiences by creating and expanding an international platform for films and art by and about LGBTIQA+ people of colour
  • Exposing audiences to new works they would otherwise have been unable to view in Glasgow.
  • We generated more community amongst LGBTIQA+ people who can sometimes suffer from social isolation or difficulty in connecting with other LGBTIQA+ people.
  • We significantly increased our audience numbers on the previous year.

Films

We love our programme! Our 2017 programme:
http://www.digitaldesperados.org/glitch/programme-2017/
encompassed film & artist moving image screenings, directors Q&As, panel discussions, an art exhibition with a gallery opening of the exhibition, an LGBTIQA+ self-defence class and an industry event in the form of a network meeting for LGBTIQA+ people of colour led and/or focused film festivals.

Key partnerships

An event of this scale would have been impossible without our key partnerships:

  • our volunteers
  • our funders – Creative Scotland, Film Hub Scotland and The Equality Network
  • our sponsors - Barefoot Wines, The Arlington Baths, Greencity Wholefoods Co-op, NHS Greater Glasgow, Kinning Park Complex
  • our cultural and venue partners - The CCA (Centre for Contemporary Arts) and The Saramago Café Bar
  • our festival partners - Aks Film & Dialogue Festival, Document Film Festival, TIQFF (Taiwan International Queer Film Festival and Video Out
  • The support of CCA extended to free use of their premises for the duration of the festival, inclusion in their print and social media publicity and Film Hub Scotland offer an ongoing mentoring relationship.

Budget in brief

Total Project Budget: £ 45,000

What worked

  • We increased the diversity of film/artist moving image available to audiences by creating and expanding an international platform for films and art by and about LGBTIQA+ people of colour
  • We exposed audiences to new works they would otherwise have been unable to view in Glasgow.
  • We supported low-income audiences to attend via our free entry /donation door policy.
  • We really felt the results of all our community building work to keep GLITCH an event that LGBTIQA+ people of colour identify with and feel drawn to. 40%+ of our audiences consisted of people of colour – a significantly higher percentage of the Glasgow population of 12% and the national average of 3-4%
  • The majority of our audiences identified as LGBTIQA+ indicating that we managed to create a cultural event with special resonance for queer people.
  • Many people identifying as heterosexual and/or white attended indicating that people felt welcomed and interested in the artistic nature of the events.
  • The public expressed excitement, enthusiasm and appreciation for both individual screenings/events and the festival as a whole both via Film Hub Scotland feedback forms and in person.
  • Our programme included many works that fit into the F-rated category (i.e. 1. is directed by a woman 2. is written by a woman 3. features significant women on screen in their own right) namely 17 features and 31 shorts.
  • 47+ people volunteered at GLITCH Film Festival in 2017 and overwhelmingly felt to be a very positive experience. Most if not all identified as Queer and/or LGBT, about 1/3 were people of colour.
  • All volunteers received disability awareness training (meaning that they learned new skills and that the festival was more effective in welcoming people with disabilities).
  • We created audience Q&As where the voices of LGBTIQA+ people of colour were centred and explored (both in terms of audience members and guest speakers). Often the majority of people speaking during discussions/Q&A’s were people of colour who seemed to (and also expressed directly in person and via feedback forms) feel empowered to speak out about complicated issues and personal experiences. All of the discussions had an intimate quality to them and all of them ran on until the last possible minute before we had to reopen the cinemas for the next screening. We often had moderators at events where we felt this might be more necessary but they didn’t have to intervene at all. This benefited both LGBTIQA+ people of colour who felt welcomed and were in a position to collectively explore subjects of importance to them and other audience members who were able to take these as times to learn from life perspectives different to theirs.
  • We generated more community amongst LGBTIQA+ people who can sometimes suffer from social isolation or difficulty in connecting with other LGBTIQA+ people.
  • We assisted in the on-going generation of queer culture, its art and its self-exploration.
  • We created an event that was friendly, welcoming and had ‘down to earth’ qualities whilst still containing numerous experimental aspects.
  • We screened films produced & directed in a large range of countries: The Phillipines, The USA, Canada, the UK, Capo Verde, South Korea, Lebanon, First Nations – specifically Mohawk and a documentary about LGBT Inuit lives - Pakistan, Germany, Mexico, Ecuador, Indonesia, France, South Africa, Ghana, Chile, Vietnam, Thailand, Argentina, Holland, India and Taiwan.
  • We had guests, many international, in the form of directors, performers, academics, film subjects and experienced community organisers, at 13 events.
  • We were delighted to gain significant new sponsorship in the form of Barefoot Wines and Arlington Baths.
  • We significantly increased our audience numbers on the previous year.

What has been difficult

  • Gaining media coverage remains difficult for us. Despite gaining advice from a media professional and our best efforts, we didn’t achieve the same press coverage that other film festivals of similar size and longevity achieve.
  • Reaching more members of Glasgow’s d/Deaf community – we were successful in this to some degree but not as fully as we had hoped.
  • A number of potential festival participants were denied visas.
  • Films with the biggest mainstream advertising behind them, such as The Handmaiden, were among the highest attended. In that sense maybe we still have further to go to encourage trust in the audience that the programme as a whole is equally strong.
  • We would benefit from a larger team and more paid staff members to manage the multiple responsibilities a festival entails.
  • Finding films that depicted or documented bisexual, asexual or intersex people of colour is difficult.

What you would do differently if you did it again

  • We are exploring applying to become a tier 5 organisation as this might facilitate visas being granted to filmmakers we wish to invite.
  • Do more extensive and advanced publicity about the festival aimed towards d/Deaf/hard of hearing audiences.
  • In 2015 we subtitled the entire programme on an unpaid basis ourselves but in 2017 we were unable to subtitle the whole programme (although it was very extensively subtitled) due to limited resources. We need to allocate more budget to pay professionals to subtitle all possible films.
  • While screening from DCP allowed us to expand our programme, unfortunately it meant those films could not be subtitled. However, the other films running at the same times were subtitled. We should have communicated more clearly about this in our publicity.
  • Recruit volunteers further in advance of the festival, so they can participate in more aspects of its organisation.
  • Create more coherent database systems to streamline our work.
  • Continue to endeavour to find more films that are not produced in the US.
  • Longer term our desire is to expand access to GLITCH via childcare and audio description.

Awareness / Attitudes

  • We co-initiated an international network of LGBTIQA+ focused Film Festivals and partnered with Aks Film Festival and Transitions Queer Minorities Film Festival from Vienna to host the successful inaugural meeting at GLITCH 2017. We believe this initiative will strengthen the professional and organisational reach of such film festivals, in turn positively influencing the film industry as a whole.
  • We believe that GLITCH plays a positive part in influencing other film festivals, especially queer film festivals, who look to our programme for inspiration and are encouraged to programme more work by and about LGBTIQA+ people of colour.
  • Our bringing together diverse audiences contributes to social cohesion, understanding and cross-cultural exchange in a Glaswegian, Scottish and international context.
  • We created a public space in a predominantly white, straight city where people of colour and/or LGBTIQA+ people felt able to engage with and publicly discuss art that emerged from or revolved around lives of other LGBTIQA+ people of colour. This has long-term ramifications in indicating what is possible for all organisations, if sufficient care is brought to curation and/or questions of leadership.
  • Our programme contributed to an increased sense of respect for the breadth of perspective and talent amongst LGBTIQA+ people of colour filmmakers.
  • We assisted in the generation of on-going productive discussions about questions of film aesthetics and techniques, including exploration of questions of how different cultures, international backgrounds etc. can generate specific film aesthetics, genre etc.
  • GLITCH also fosters on-going productive discussions about questions pertinent to racism, LGBTIQA+ representation, homophobia, sexism, social disenfranchisement etc.
  • The nature of our programming challenges the perception that festival curation with a sociological identity as its starting point cannot be complex, exploratory, detailed, specific and aesthetically rigorous in its application.
  • We play a part in stretching the understanding of what contemporary art in a Scottish context can mean; and what an understanding of a plurality of identity can mean in artistic, personal and societal contexts.
  • Our free entry policy helps to assert the very idea that art can and should be free and accessible in the sense that other public services are funded collectively via public money for the common good.

Diversity

Our festival has an inherent focus on and commitment to diversity.  Our audience demographics showed:

  • there is an interest in films that extends beyond the demographics of whom it most immediately represents i.e. there can be a ’universality’ to works that feature people of colour/LGBT+ leads etc.
  • people are drawn to films and art that depicts similar backgrounds and life experiences to their own

What audiences said

  • “Really thought provoking & timely programme – great discussion after!”
  • “I needed a queer boost.”
  • “I love this film – its so uplifting.”
  • “I tell all my friends about Glitch.”
  • “I can’t believe this is happening in Glasgow and it’s all freeee!!!!”
  • "The work you are doing with Glitch is so important."
  • "Amazing."
  • "Escandala!!"
  • “It’s such a special festival with a really friendly vibe, some of the best after talks I’ve been to in ages.”
  • “really necessary...”
  • “Excellent, good crowd ☺ good programme.”
  • “nourishing and educational...”
  • “Daniel’s artwork was really fascinating and his talk lent so much insight into its complexities.”
  • “fun, inspiring...”
  • “Movie was inspiring, visually stimulating, overall really good experience intellectually.”
  • “Great way to spend a Saturday afternoon.”
  • "Thank you for organizing this event, and passing the mic to queer and P.O.C. filmmakers.”
  • “GREAT FILMS!”
  • “The whole festival gets 5 stars.”