By Vagner de Almeida*
The first For Rainbow Festival of Cinema and Sexual Diversity held in Fortaleza, in the state of Ceará, is the first film festival in the Northeast of Brazil that highlights positive aspects of gender and sexual diversity.
For one week many artists, directors, actors, actresses, and critics were involved in more than 100 film production activities including documentaries, fiction, experimental films, special exhibition workshops and lectures. Twenty-one films from different parts of Brazil, including local productions from Ceará, as well as from other countries, were selected to compete.
The executive director of the festival, Veronica Guedes, the production director, Marcelo Dídimo, and the festival crew worked hard to produce this festival, and brought an incredible experience in film and art to the city. The festival also received strong support from the local government and from civil society organizations working for lesbian, gay and transgender rights.
ABIA – The Brazilian Interdisciplinary Association of AIDS was well represented at the festival, with presentations of the films
“Living Day By Day”, “The Butterflies”, “Prevention Cabaret”, “Rites and Sayings of Young Gays”, and “Homophobia in School”, all directed by Vagner de Almeida, who presented a special session on educational film-making and talked about how the films are done with the base communities in settings where sexual diversity and violence co-exist and where youth and adults are often killed because their sexual lives are not accepted by others.
The films from ABIA were shown in different parts of the festival, with special sessions for local artists, activists, directors, educators, and administrators from the public schools and public health system who wanted to learn how to work with the LGBT population.
Educators were very involved in each session of the films, and for many of them it provided a unique opportunity to bring this experience to the public schools in Fortaleza. As one public school teacher put it: “We educators are not prepared to work with these kids. The schools are not prepared to accept them and some educators and schools find a huge resistance from the board and the parents when we talk about sexuality, health disease, pregnancy in classrooms”.
The films were shown in the Teatro José de Alencar and the Centro Cultural SESC Luiz Severiano followed by debates. Outside the cinema, at Ferreira Square, a stage was set up for the sexual diversity movement where many NGOs and LGBT communities were together for several days.
This festival brought much more than films on sexual diversity and human rights. It organized a moment where the artists and directors had time to talk and share their ideas with individuals and communities.
The festival provided a unique window into how people are thinking about sexualities and vulnerabilities in the era of HIV and AIDS, although only a few productions in this festival raised questions about AIDS and the violence that the LGBT communities are suffering.
On the closing night, prize-winning films received the Artur Guedes Award, named for a man who was a symbol of art in this city: a poet, a director, an actor, and a man who gave to a face and a soul to this festival with the irreverence that had characterized his life:
I know that the time bite the friendship,
I know also that silence rains on our friendship,
I almost didn’t recognize my wet friends,
I am what I am…”
* Vagner Almeida is from SPW – Columbia Secretariat Team, writter and a movies director