MiX-DEFYING

By Reid-Pharr, Robert | Afterimage, January 1995 | Go to article overview
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MiX-DEFYING


Reid-Pharr, Robert, Afterimage


MIX Anthology Film Archive New York, NY November 10-20, 1994

Watch out! There's a motley assortment of queer film- and videomakers out there just itching to cajole, seduce, and threaten their way into your local theaters and onto your favorite screens. They are not eager to prove themselves as acceptable or ordinary. On the contrary, they are as likely to offer a good old-fashioned, "fuck you," to the charge of abnormality as to devote themselves to countless hours of "dialogue" and "intervention." Their aesthetic is one of play, desire, transgression, bravado, and hope. This, however, is where most of their similarities end.

It is this productive - if wildly varied - group of gay, lesbian, straight, bi, and otherwise producers who have been best served by the eight-year-old New York Lesbian and Gay Experimental Film and Video Festival, Mix. Directed for the second consecutive year by Shari Friloh, Mix joined forces this year with the New York-based Downtown Community Television Center's (DCTV) annual queer video festival, Lookout. Moreover, Mix 94 included programming from Mix Brasil: Segunda Festival das Manifestacoes da Sexualidade, which toured eight Brazilian cities between October and December of 1994.

Mix Brasil, curated by Andre Fischer and Suzy Capo, grew out of a program at the 1992 lesbian and gay experimental festival, organized by Brazilian filmmaker Tania Cypriano. When Mix Brasil officially opened in Sao Paulo last year, it was an immediate smash. Local organizers were not only able to produce this year's program completely within Brazil itself, but they also launched the eight-city tour, established the first Brazilian gay and lesbian computer bulletin board, produced Mix Magazine, a smart guide to restaurants, clubs, concerts and movies in Brazil, as well as marketed a festival t-shirt, postcards, underwear, buttons, and sex toys.

Mix Brasil's success is not an indicator that U.S.-defined queer identity has been exported wholesale to Brazil. As the title of the program (Festival of the Manifestations of Sexuality) indicates, the programmers of Mix Brasil have been clear that the issue of gay and lesbian sexuality is only one part of a large and fluid conversation regarding eros and desire as they are manifested in that country. As Cypriano pointed out during "World Clique?: Queer Festivals Go Global," a Mix-sponsored panel discussion that addressed the emergence of queer festivals outside of Europe and North America, questions of race and class are primary to the production of not only Mix Brasil, but Brazilian queer sensibility in general. Specifically, Cypriano was disturbed that many of the venues for Mix Brasil catered to white populations. She also suggested that the English-language works borrowed from other countries, principally the U.S., were by definition accessible to only the most privileged Brazilians.

Similar issues were addressed by the other "World Clique" panelists: Julie Dorf, executive director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, who in 1991 helped to organize the first gay and lesbian film festival in St. Petersburg, Russia; Hima B, an Indian activist and filmmaker who is presently planning a queer tour and festival in India; and Yau Ching, the founder of the Hong Kong lesbian and gay film festival and visiting professor at the University of California at San Diego.

Mix officially opened with a special screening of Frances Negron-Mutaner's 1994 film, Brincando El Charco: Portrait of a Puerto Rican, a work that will undoubtedly be a pacesetter for both queer cinema and third cinema for years to come. The piece follows the story of a young lesbian photographer, played by Negron-Mutaner herself, who, born in Puerto Rico and living in Philadelphia, is forced to make sense of her various environments and geographies, even as she receives news of her virulently homophobic father's death. The young woman returns to Puerto Rico for the funeral with the support of a rather remarkable community, including a girlfriend who is also a community activist, and a black gay male friend with a Korean lover.

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