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Q and A with the Leeds Queer Film Fest team

Saturday 9 August 2014, by Abla Kandalaft

How was the festival started?

Queer Mutiny North put on the first two festivals. They are a DIY collective that organises lots of events as an alternative to the mainstream gay scene and this is something that was continued by other people.

What would you say defines a queer festival or a queer film?

We struggled to come up with a single definition of queer as it means something different for different people and any number of things can qualify a film as queer. It doesn’t have to tackle queer issues head on, though we like it when they do. We try and choose things that do not damage any section of the queer population and try to ensure that as many groups /interests are featured as possible.

Did you initially target a specific audience in the hope they would spread the word or did you market the festival in such a way as to appeal to as large an audience as possible?

We did publicise the festival to a lot of queer groups and LGBT organisations initially and this was the best way to spread the word. But we also targeted other film festivals and arts and culture organisations, as well as flyering and putting up posters around the city in the hope that it would appeal to those with a general interest in queer and independent films.

Did it end up appealing to your target audience? Do you think the festival has appealed to a wider cross-section of the population?

One of our aims was to create a space for queer people to socialise, watch films and get involved in discussions. We think it did appeal to our target audience in this way and we got some great feedback to back this up.

What were the biggest hurdles you encountered?

We didn’t really have any major issues but we were a small group of volunteers and a non-profit film festival so at times the amount we had to do was quite overwhelming.

Who supported and supports the festival?

We did everything ourselves with very little money and no sponsors but the end result was really rewarding and we were lucky to have a great group of people volunteering for shifts at the festival and an incredibly supportive venue in Wharf Chambers.

How do you go about selecting films?

We didn’t have strict guidelines in mind but we did feel strongly about including films on under-represented topics as well as a range of genres. We also wanted to provide a platform for low-budget films and those without distribution or wide publicity as supporting queer independent filmmakers was one of the main aims. The submissions were watched by most of us and we made decisions together and made sure that everyone was comfortable with what we were screening.

Is there anything you wish you could do within the festival that for material or financial reasons you haven’t been able to include or set up?

We actually managed to do most things we planned and wanted to do but we would’ve liked to screen a couple of films that required a fee and also would’ve liked to invite filmmakers and pay for their travel, but unfortunately couldn’t afford to do so. But we did a hell of a lot on a small amount of money and were able to invite many speakers and pay for travel for some people from places within the country.

What are your objectives for the future?

All we know is that we want to do this again next year!

The Festival was held on 10-13 July 2014. You can follow them @LeedsQueerFilm

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