Tag Archives: transgender

TEDDY TODAY: Thursday the 20th of February 2020

Following in the footsteps of last year’s Teddy Award, we are going to create a blog article for each day of the Berlinale in order to keep you up to date with our Teddy films, where they will be screened as well as screening dates and times.

Starting from today, we will give you a little insight into all the queer movies of the 70th Berlinale.

Since the articles’ main purpose will be to inform you of all the queer films in the festival, don’t forget to also keep an eye on our social media channels because we’ve got more events coming up soon! Enough with the talking now. Here’s the first film of today’s article:

LAS MIL Y UNA

English translation: One in a Thousand
Directed by: Clarisa Navas
Short description: Iris is 17 and takes each day as it comes. When she meets the cool Renata, her life changes abruptly. While her friends explore their sexuality, Iris finds herself faced with new emotions and noisy rumours.

 

TEDDY ACTIVIST AWARD – WINNER

The TEDDY AWARD and the award donator HARALD CHRIST, entrepreneur and longtime TEDDY supporter, will present the TEDDY ACTIVIST AWARD for the first time this year. The award includes a donation of 5.000 € and will be presented annually in the future in the scope of the TEDDY AWARD ceremony. 

Inspired by the work and courage of so many activists who fight for the ongoing struggle of sexual and gender minorities all over the world, the TEDDY ACTIVIST AWARD honours people who work for change under difficult circumstances and in a non-supportive political and social environment and thus contribute to tolerance, acceptance, justice and equality in the world. In many parts of the world, this means putting oneself and the people around you at risk and exposing oneself to rejection, marginalization, isolation and persecution. The award is intended to honour the courage and determination of these people.

The TEDDY ACTIVIST AWARD 2020 goes to a group of activists who, at risk to their own lives, courageously and resolutely save and rescue persecuted homosexuals and transsexuals in Chechnya from imprisonment, torture and murder and bring them to safety. The TEDDY and Harald Christ pay tribute to these courageous people with deep respect and hope that this prize will help to ensure that the continuing silence and look away of the so-called “free world” finally turns into a worldwide outcry of indignation and that the perpetrators are ostracized and held accountable by the world community.

The Gay Pogrom in Chechnya:

On April 1, 2017, the Novaya Gazeta, an independent Russian newspaper, reported that government security officials were abducting, detaining, and torturing gay men in Chechnya, demanding that these men divulge the names of other gays whom they would then abduct, detain, and torture as well. Chechnya’s President Ramzan Kadyrov has openly described the goal of this campaign as an effort “to cleanse our blood.” He has called upon family members to carry out so-called “honor killings.”

There are no estimates of the number of the dead. Hundreds of Chechens have simply disappeared since the atrocities began, and hundreds more have escaped.

Leaders of the St. Petersburg-based Russian LGBTQI* Network established a hotline in the early days of the pogrom. They set up a series of secret safe-houses throughout the country, in partnership with other LGBTQI* organizations, especially The Moscow Community Center for LGBT+ Initiatives.

In the first two years, they moved 151 people out of the Chechnya and beyond the Russian border. Countries receiving them include Canada, Germany, France, Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands, Argentina, and elsewhere. The US government rejected all applicants stemming from the pogrom. 

Response from Chechen Leadership:

Ramzan Kadyrov immediately denied the accusations when they first surfaced, calling them “lies.” What’s more, he says it is impossible to carry out such crimes because they “don’t have that kind of people here. We don’t have gays.” Despite these statements, Kadyrov has publicly endorsed so-called “honor killings,” urging families to murder relatives suspected of being gay, lesbian, or transgender. His press secretary stated: “If there were such people in Chechnya, the law-enforcement agencies wouldn’t need to have anything to do with them because their relatives would send them to a place of no return.” Those who commit such murders face no criminal ramifications. Russian President Vladimir Putin accepted Kadyrov’s denials. Yet under pressure from international leaders, Putin briefly moved forward with a widely criticized investigation, which found no witnesses and victims willing to give testimony, fearing retribution. The Kremlin claimed the lack of testimony was proof that no human rights abuses had occurred. 

Lesbians and Transgender Women and Men are Also Targeted:

Although much of the reporting on this subject has focused on gay men, Chechen lesbians and transgender women have reported similar treatment. Survivors have commonly spoken about forced religious exorcisms and involuntary commitments to psychiatric hospitals, as well as torture and detention. Evidence has also surfaced of so-called “honor killings” of lesbians. 

Women have little autonomy in Chechnya’s interpretation of Islam. Male family members generally accompany them when they are outside of their homes, making their efforts to escape to safety even more difficult — and dangerous — than for men.

The Victims are Being Hunted Around the World:

Since the operational goal of Kadyrov’s government is the elimination from the Chechen bloodline of LGBTQI people, fleeing the country doesn’t give victims safety.  Authorities pressure Chechen families to hunt them down and return them for execution. And their reach is surprisingly far. There is a vast global diaspora of people who fled during the two Chechnya wars. 

In November 2019, officials called upon diaspora members to enforce Chechen mores wherever they live. In remarks widely seen as referring to gay people, Kadyrov’s right-hand man said: “I’m telling you, those who live in Europe, America and Canada: Stop such people! By law, with our traditions and customs, we should resolve their problem,” said Adam Delimkhanov. “We implore you, don’t let them embarrass the honor of our nation.”  There have been cases of Chechens being tricked into returning or being forced in their new country to record denials of their homosexuality. Some have been attacked in their host countries. 

It’s Not a Good Time to be Gay in Much of the World:

The persecution of gay people is not exclusive to Chechnya. According to ILGA-Europe, there are 70 countries worldwide where being gay is criminalized, including 11 countries where the death penalty could be imposed.

However, what is happening in Chechnya is categorically different. It is the only government since Nazi Germany to round up LGBTQI people for extermination. 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Masha Gessen, “The Gay Men Who Fled Chechnya’s Purge, New Yorker, July 3, 2017 https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/07/03/the-gay-men-who-fled-chechnyas-purge 

Masha Gessen, “Fleeing Anti-Gay Persecution in Chechnya, Three Young Women Are Now Stuck in Place,” New Yorker, October 1, 2018 https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/fleeing-anti-gay-persecution-in-chechnya-three-young-women-are-now-stuck-in-place

“They Have Long Arms and They Can Find Me: Anti-Gay Purge by Local Authorities in Russia’s Chechen Republic,” A Human Rights Watch Report, May 26, 2017 https://www.hrw.org/report/2017/05/26/they-have-long-arms-and-they-can-find-me/anti-gay-purge-local-authorities-russias 

“Honor Kill: How the Ambitions of a Famous LGBT Activist Awoke a Terrible Ancient Custom in Chechnya, Elena Milashina,” Novaya Gazetta, April 1, 2017 https://novayagazeta.ru/articles/2017/04/01/71983-ubiystvo-chesti 

“Novaya Gazetta Learned of New Gay Persecution in Chechnya,” Novaya Gazetta, January 11, 2019 https://novayagazeta.ru/news/2019/01/11/148260-chechnya 

ILGA Europe, “Sexual Orientation Laws in the World, 2019” https://ilga.org/downloads/ILGA_Sexual_Orientation_Laws_Map_2019.pdf 

Stepping into the Light: Trans Visibility in Brazilian Art

Evangelina Kranioti’s ethereal documentary ‘Obscuro Barroco’, following the experiences of transgender personality Luana Muniz as she navigates the streets of Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival, promises “a story of a calm darkness”. But across the film we follow a movement from night to day, with the closing scenes of the film depicting beams of sunlight stretching across the skyline. The transformation of the city from darkness to light offers a symbolic parallel to the metamorphosis of gender seen in the film, and more generally to the growing visibility of the trans population in this region. Just as the trans protagonist steps into Rio’s dawn, numerous trans artists are emerging onto the Brazilian art scene. Kranioti’s documentary is the first of a number of Brazilian and Latin American films submitted to the Teddy Award 2018, celebrating trans and queer culture. ‘Bixa Travesty’, directed by Kiko Goifman, is a tender biopic of Brazilian transgender singer Linn da Quebrada, and ‘La omisión’, Argentinian filmmaker Sebastián Schjaer’s first full-length fiction film, portrays the struggles of a young transient worker. The increasing representation of trans people on the big screen is matched by developments on the small screen. 2017 saw the production of TV Series, ‘Edge of Desire’, a soap opera chronicling the transition of a transgender man that draws in roughly 50 million viewers per night[1]. Broadcast on Brazilian TV network, Globo, the show is the nation’s first ever soap opera featuring a transgender character. Similarly, transgender singer Pabllo Vittar broke the Brazilian record for YouTube view with their song Sua Cara this year[2], and British transgender playwright Jo Clifford’s show, ‘The Gospel According to Jesus, Queen of Heaven’, which imagines Jesus as a trans woman, continues to be a sell-out hit at theatres across the country since its arrival in 2016[3]. Brazil is home to a large community of transgender people, added to which are the members of what is known as the country’s “third sex”, travestis (individuals designated male at birth, but who live a feminine gender identity). Its annual Pride parade in Sao Paolo, which attracted an estimated 3 million attendants this year[4], is the largest in the world. The country is also seen as something of a beacon when it comes to the legal rights of LGBT people. The government was one of the first to work with LGBT rights organisations to offer free medical care to HIV/AIDS sufferers, and 2013 saw the legal recognition both of same-sex marriage and of the right to change a person’s name and gender marker on some government-issued identification documents[5]. It is only right, then, that the growing legal realisation of trans identities is mirrored in the realisation of those identities in Brazilian art. But there is a looming shadow over these advancements; with more visibility in the public sphere comes louder and more violent hostility. In the art world that hostility translates to societal censorship, with two Brazilian exhibitions of queer art this year being shut down early thanks to right-wing and conservative Christian protests. In everyday terms the opposition to the trans and queer community takes the form of brutal violence. “Machismo” culture is still very prominent in parts of Latin America: according to the UN, a woman is assaulted every 15 seconds in Sao Paolo[6], and in 2017, 200 LGBT individuals were murdered in Brazil. Trans people are particularly at risk, as was cruelly illustrated earlier this year when a video went viral of trans woman, Dandara dos Santos, being tortured and killed in Fortaleza. It may be many years before trans art can step into a light unpolluted by such prejudice and violence, but for the moment we must recognise the courage of the many film-makers, actors, singers, and theatre-goers that are publically celebrating queer and transgender culture despite such animosity. By Hannah Congdon [1] https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/07/world/americas/brazil-transgender-pabllo-vittar.html [2] https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/07/world/americas/brazil-transgender-pabllo-vittar.html [3] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hWNQtlsvQiY [4] http://www.rioonwatch.org/?p=37249 [5] http://www.rioonwatch.org/?p=37249 [6] http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-33939470  

A Very Fantastic Woman Gets an Oscar

During the celebration of the 90th Academy Award last Sunday, ‘Una Mujer Fantástica’ (‘A Fantastic Woman’), was awarded the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. The film, which won the 31st TEDDY AWARD for best feature in 2017, is the work of Chilean director Sebastián Lelio. The Academy Award for a non-English speaking film has been given away since 1956 and ‘A Fantastic Woman’ is a landmark recipient in a number of respects; it’s the first first Chilean film to win the foreign-language Oscar, the first film with a trans themed plot to take home the prize, and lead actor Daniela Vega is the first openly transgender person to present an award on stage at the ceremony. Sebastián Lelio praised Daniela Vega as “the inspiration for this movie”. The story follows Marina (Daniela Vega), a transgender woman working as a waitress, who has a loving relationship with Orlando (Francisco Reyes), a divorced man 30 years her senior. Their affectionate love is brought to an abrupt end on the day of Orlando’s sudden death. In the aftermath of this tragedy, Marina is faced with the hatred of Orlando’s ex-wife and children. She fights simultaneously for her right to mourn her beloved one and against the prejudices and harassment from her late lover’s family. The film not only gives a sensitive portrayal of the universal right to grieve but also tells the intimate story of a trans women in today’s conservative Chile. On a broader level, the film highlights the transphobia and ignorance constituting every-day life for many transgender people around the world. Few would be able to leave the cinema unmoved by this touching story of love and loss. To learn more about the film, have a look at our interview with director Sebastián Lelio and lead actors Daniela Vega and FranciscoReyes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9VQLBKaP9Q