Queerama reconstructs the history of LGBTIQ+ movements and their representation in film and popular culture from the turn of the twentieth century to the present day, doing so through the vast British Film Institute (BFI) archive. The film extends across a century of experiences of sexual diversity, encompassing public persecution and prosecution, criminalisation and medicalisation, and also sexual liberation, pride and equality struggles. The soundtrack by John Grant, Goldfrapp and Hercules & Love Affair also counterpoints the images to immerse us in a voiceless polyphonic space occupied by an omniscient narrator.
This feature-length film begins with images from Different from the Others (Richard Oswald, 1919), regarded as the first film in the history of cinema to feature a homosexual relationship, and unfurls a story of relationships, desires, fears and expressions in LGBTIQ+ communities by way of a prodigious archive-based exploration which results in an expansive montage containing fragments of news, fictional cinema and documentary. A succession of newsreels and snippets from amateur cinema appear from the 1920s and 1930s, veiled references in fictional cinema from the 1940s, the arrest and prosecution of homosexual citizens for “indecent behaviour” in the 1950s, equal rights marches and decriminalisation in the 1960s and 1970s, the Gay Pride Movement and the AIDS crisis in the 1980s and 1990s, queer and transgender sexual liberation in the early 2000s and, finally, campaigns to legalise gay marriage and homoparental families in recent years.
As a whole, Queerama sketches out a large-scale historical fresco, where the struggle for citizens’ rights is inseparable from another pivotal battle: representation. Moreover, it looks to film archives as a privileged space of history contained within, where identities surface in their most diverse and multifarious state.
This film is presented inside the framework of Intervals, a Museo Reina Sofía programme devoted to recently made experimental feature films without commercial distribution.
Daisy Asquith is a documentary film-maker and professor at Goldsmiths, University of London. She has made films for the BBC, Channel 4, BFI, the Irish Film Board and Sheffield Docfest, among others. Asquith has won many awards for her work, including a Royal Television Society award, and has received Grierson and BAFTA nominations, both in the contemporary documentary category.
Sabatini Building / Auditorium – 7pm
UK, digital archive, colour, original version with Spanish subtitles, 70’
Saturday, 30 June
Saturday, 7 July