Continued from yesterday…
Steven: Who should go to this festival? What do you want people to learn?
Jorge: It is for the general public around the age of eighteen; however, people of fifteen or sixteen years can come with an adult. The cinema films are directed to the heterosexual population as well as the LGBTI community. This dual focus allows us to tend to the different realities in this diverse world in which we live, and from there, we can all become more humanized around these subjects.
The “Cinema of Difference” in Cuenca also presents films and short documentaries, and some of those films will be showed in this upcoming festival as well. For example, there is a movie that we are going to present during this cinema festival called ‘Versatile Without Prejudice.’ To be more exact, it is a film that takes place in Ecuador between Ecuadorians. There is an Ecuadorian director as well. The film helps us see the reality of the LGBTI population and where we hope to be as a community. We are equal to the rest of the population. We have strength across ages. There are sorrows, but also there are many successes for our community that break the traditional mold of the heteronormatividad. But then again, there is also supreme discrimination. There have been no rights and no respect from the rest of the population at times, and we still struggle to combat inequalities and difficult situations, like AIDS.
Steven: In your opinion, why is cinema important for LGBTI people? So, how does this art influence the respect, understanding, appreciation and human rights of LGBTI people here in Cuenca?
Jorge: Cinema has always been an enjoyable pastime for people, at least here in Cuenca. For example, on Wednesdays it is very typical to go to Millenium Plaza or Mall del Rio to watch movies; there are even two for one discounts. So, the young people go and watch films and always enjoy the experience among friends. For “A Place Without Limits,” it will be a cinema environment that will capture that joviality between many people and also create a space to debate a theme. To be more exact, our goal is to make the experience of the LGBTI population more visible, to show that discrimination still exists, to discuss the stereotypes and the rejection that exist due to the lack of information, specifically a lack of scientific information. There is still a lack of opportunities, and we think that that unfortunate reality is fairly obvious here.
The film festival follows the themes of the “Cinema of Difference,” yet “The Place without Limits” also addresses different LGBTI themes in cinema. The reality of our community will be shown to the general public. We have created a system with the previous films; we gauged the reactions and the feelings of the public. For example, in the previous year, we showed a film called ‘The Other Family’ about a homosexual issue where two gay parents raise children. The theme was not so much about discrimination from society, but more about the subjects of moralism, religion and mostly, the law. Following the film, the reactions of the public were dramatic, as if they had entered into another reality and become part of it. But there were also very strong reactions like anger, specifically anger at the assumed violation of the rights of the child. Some people believe that two men cannot or do not have the capacity to adopt a child, nor is it respectful to the rest of the population. We also saw other emotions, like anguish and crying, as well as sometimes a little frustration that they were not able to change this reality.
The experience of a film about real life allows the population to be sensitized, and not just sensitized, but humanized, and slowly the city becomes humanized in its culture as well as its cinema.
That’s why, after the movies, we held a forum for discussion. It is a forum where we always invite two people to talk about the topic. They speak and present reflective messages from their own experiences. For this festival, on both Thursday and Friday, we will have 2 guests for each day for the cinema forum. First, we will watch the film and then, we will receive a reflection from the guests about their experience, sexual orientation and gender identity. The talks will be for a maximum of five minutes, and they will be moderated by a sexologist, a specialist in the subject of gender identity, who is very friendly to the LGBTI population and is a member of the professors of the University of Azuay, one of the best universities in Cuenca. Along with the sexologist, there will also be a psychologist who will moderate the conversation for both days and provide an objective opinion. We hope that the people who want to ask their questions and address their doubts can do so with a professional present.
Steven: Are there any other events we should expect from Verde Equilibrante and other organizations?
Jorge: With the LGBTI network of Azuay, we have set forth different activities that we hope to carry out. We have created some new opportunities. The festival of cinemas in the LGBTI network will help get things started. For example, when someone comes to the event, they will see that we are an inclusive community and forum, and they, along with other organizations, will be encouraged to join the community. We try to partner with both LGBTI and non-LGBTI organizations. There’s another event in progress now. During the next sixteen days, there is an event for activism against violence. We are helping carry out sixteen days of activism and with the LGBTI network we have planned some activities within this time. We will continue with cinema shows that will end on December 10th, Human Rights Day.
Another of the issues we want to focus on as Verde Equilibrante is HIV. We want to create more opportunities where the LGBTI population can find friendly spaces within civil society, the network, or LGBTI organizations to learn more about HIV. Also, we want people living with HIV to have other friendly and preferable health centers options, places where they can go without discrimination. This is a right they have. That is one of the goals that we have and we have created strategic dates for events that celebrate the pride of sexual diversity, and in June every year we have a pride parade.
In the beginning of Verde Equilibrante, we had our first pride event open to the public for three days, but it wasn’t a parade. It was more of a closed event inside an auditorium, with parts in a park where we showed awareness with balloons and posters. The following day, we had stages inside where we showed different facets of LGBTI pride. We had diverse music, singing, and drags shows. Last year was the first parade. We were granted use of the stages as well for the event, and we made Cuenca’s first gay pride parade in 2012. It was a public event for three days. However, the parade did not have quite the magnitude of people we had hoped for, so with the LGBTI network we have continued to improve each year. We started doing a parade on the day against homophobia, which is in May, and we’ve also started organizing events that promote lesbian visibility in the community. Events in November revolve around the decriminalization of homosexuality. In December, we have events about the issue of HIV and human rights. We always work with other organizations during these times as well to better help us promote these important dates.
This film festival, “The Place Without Limits” will be on Thursday and Friday, November 24 and 25 in the City Museum Auditorium in Benigno Malo and Gran Colombia streets at 18:00 each day. To know more about the event and the films, you can go to www.elugarsinlimites.net or visit the Verde Equilibrante website at http://somoscuenca.com/verde-equilibrante/
Hope to see you there.
*translated by Kristen Sawyer