Berlinale Day Three

13 Feb

On Saturday I met with two distributors that cover the German territory, chatted, flirted, teased, and laughed a lot.  I left them both with screener copies of ABRUPT DECISION.  It’s unlikely either will have time to watch the film during this week.  Usually offers are made a couple weeks after the festival.  So we’ll see what happens.

The highlight of the day was a late afternoon lunch with John Badalu, who programs three film festivals including the controversial Q! Film Festival in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Last fall conservative Muslim protesters successfully shut down half the films programmed for the Q! Festival by threatening to destroy venue facilities.  The festival is being sued by the government under a new law that regulates ‘obscene material’ on the internet, and John is being charged with crimes that could lead to imprisonment simply by posting online a film schedule of gay themed movies. None of the films are pornographic, incidentally.

Though Jakarta is a secular government, and there are no laws against homosexuality, the vocal Muslim community is becoming increasingly strident.  Last year’s demonstrations were covered by global news media.

One of the film’s canceled was mine, ALTITUDE FALLING.

Yesterday John invited me to speak and screen one or more of my films at this year’s festival in late September.  I’m deeply honored to bring my work to Jakarta and lend support to the gay community struggling for acceptance.

The Q! Festival is organized entirely by volunteers, and funds are low for hosting filmmakers.  I’ll be calling upon my community of supporters to help with airfare.  It’s important I be there this year showing movies about men in positive, healthy relationships doing the best they can with their lives.  This is not the time to allow extreme religious views to go unchallenged.  We’ve already seen in Africa this year that Christian evangelism resulted in an attempt to legalize murdering gays.   If the gay community in Jakarta is shunned into silence the results could be politically disastrous.

I leave for Jakarta the last week of September.

There are 16 film screenings I’ll be checking out at Berlinale today.  Some of them are gay themed and some are mainstream.  I have a scheduled meeting with a festival programmer in the morning and a seminar I plan to attend in the afternoon.  No meetings with distributors today, but a couple meetings coming up on Monday.

I’m running late this morning.  Gotta go.

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