Queer Lisboa and Queer Porto

Queer Lisboa is the sole Portuguese film festival with the specific purpose of screening films about gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, intersex and other non-normative sexualities and identities, in a genre coined internationally as “Queer Cinema”.

This is a genre with an increasing presence in major international film festivals and it is our goal to program the most aesthetic and narrative-wise relevant titles within world cinema, aiming to bridge the fact that these films are of limited access to larger audiences. Queer Cinema runs through the entire history of cinema and its genres, despite corresponding to a recent label: it was in the beginning of the 1990s that a new cinematographic language emerged, pointing towards new negotiations of subjectivities linked to sexual and gender identities, largely as a direct consequence of the effects of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and its impact on artistic creation.

In 2015, the Queer Lisboa team finally pulled through a long-awaited project: the organization of Queer Porto. After a “zero” edition in October 2014, the project for a queer festival in the city began to take shape. In October 2015, Associação Cultural Janela Indiscreta organized Queer Porto which, based in Teatro Rivoli until 2022, has occupied several other spaces in Porto over the years, arriving at Batalha Centro de Cinema in 2023. Taking place two to three weeks after Queer Lisboa, Queer Porto is not a replica of the films programmed in Lisbon. Queer Porto aims to reach the various audiences and different expressions of the cultural fabric of the northern city, putting cinema in dialogue with other arts. In what we believe to be a strong strategy that meets the expectations of the city's audience, the Festival has its own, multidisciplinary identity, where, in addition to the screening of Portuguese premieres, we organize educational and parallel activities, seeking to promote our activities and to attract audiences to the event.

Queer Lisboa and the more recent Queer Porto continue to invest in the screening of Queer Cinema in Portugal, and in inviting to the country a set of individuals linked to it, as well as encouraging theoretical thought around their themes and concepts; so as the screening, inducement and promotion of queer-themed Portuguese films. All scheduled films are organized around the Competitions for the Best Feature Film, Documentary, Short Film, European School Short Film and Queer Art, in Lisbon; and Competitions for Best Fictional or Documentary Feature and "Casa Comum" Award for Best Portuguese Short Film, in Porto. In parallel, we program out-of-competition sections, special screenings and thematic cycles dedicated to a filmmaker, theme or country, retrospectives on queer representations in the history of cinema, sections dedicated to Queer Cinema sub-genres, as well as parallel activities such as exhibitions and performances, or debates and more educational and academic lectures. We also take on the project of promoting Portuguese cinema, of which we regularly present retrospectives and organize programs at international film festivals.

Created in 1997, and a contemporary of its “sister” festivals of Madrid and Paris, Queer Lisboa is the longest-running film festival in the city of Lisbon. Over its 27 years, the Festival has consolidated its reputation at an international level, being currently one of the most recognized festivals of its kind in Europe and around the world, be it for the quality of its program and activities, be it for the many international guests attending. Taking advantage of the synergies created during these almost 27 years of continuous activity, Queer Lisboa has established privileged relations with some of the main European and worldwide queer and generic film festivals, with which it regularly collaborates through programs, cultural and training networks, and to which our programmers regularly travel. These networks are also essential for the dissemination of Portuguese cinema abroad. Conversely, we also organize a series of out-of-town programs throughout the year, bringing a selection of films from the latest edition of Queer Lisboa to a series of cinemas, municipal theaters, cinematheques and other venues in mainland Portugal and the islands, promoting both national and international queer cinema.

Having always sought to embrace a broader approach to the concept of “queer”, the programming policy of Queer Lisboa and Queer Porto, rather than looking for queer themes in film narratives, seeks above all to understand what are the foundations of a queer aesthetic, and to screen works that suggest a queer gaze at the world. We understand the concept of “queer” as a space of intersection with problematics and realities such as racism, xenophobia, migration, social exclusion, physical and mental health, poverty, crossing all the above with theoretical thought and movements linked to post-colonialism, anti-capitalism, ecology, post-pornography, among others, that help us understand the reality of queer individuals and communities under the lens of a more complex network.

Queer Lisboa and Queer Porto are sought out annually by an increasing number of independent producers, distributors and filmmakers who recognize the prestige of the Festivals and intend to show their films in Lisbon and Porto as a platform to the international festival circuit or even to access the national distribution market. The Festivals are still sought after by a growing number of spectators, interested in a fresh and eclectic program, always complemented by a set of parallel activities, theoretical texts that support the screenings, book publishing, the presence of international guests, in addition to all the environment created in the days of the events. We understand a film festival as a communal and physical experience, a space for gathering and confronting ideas, something that is increasingly relevant in a world steeped in solitary virtual experience.

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