Photo: foreigners, directed by Hannah Cauhépé.
Berlin is known the world over for its big Berlinale film festival, but there are other big initiatives that promote less mainstream films and amplify important voices. One of these events is the Soura Film Festival, the third edition of which will take place at the end of this month. Taking place in Oyoun from October 21 to 24, the Soura Film Festival presents a daring selection of films by queer artists from the SWANA region (South West Asia & North Africa).
This year, you can expect six feature films, three short film programs, as well as three additional categories, including Beyond Borders (a selection of films by Pakistani artists), Retrospective (focusing on the history of queer cinema in the SWANA region) and XPOSED: Cruising Courageously (curator of the Xposed Film Festival). You can check out the details of all the films on the festival website.
The film’s programming is also accompanied by an exhibition, available from October 21 to 30. The exhibition titled “Backbone” is a personal attempt by artist, Mazen Khaddaj, to come to terms with the complicated emotions surrounding his father’s death through video performances and multi-channel installations.
We spoke with Robert Moussa, the founder of the Soura Film Festival, who explained the past and present of the festival, shed light on the process of selecting a selection of films and explained how Berlin takes into account its job.
Photo: Bahang, directed by Imran Sajid
iHeartBerlin: How has the festival evolved since its first edition?
Robert Moussa: We develop and grow every year. We started with a small festival in October 2019, with regular sections (short and feature films) and we had a good selection. The first year took place in a small cinema (50 seats) in Berlin called ‘Sputnik Kino’.
Last year we added the “Retrospective” section to pay homage to the history of queer cinema in the SWANA region (South West Asia and North Africa) and had our first collaboration with another film festival. queer (Xposed Film Festival) on a selection they organized for us. We also had our first panels. Both sections return for this next edition.
This year we are going beyond the SWANA region with a new section called “Beyond Borders”, where we highlight filmmakers outside this region who also come from communities facing oppression, and this year we focus on Pakistan.
Each year we become more vocal, political and queer unabashedly about the festival’s identity, its values and everything we believe in and stand for. However, one thing will never change: we will always oppose oppression.
Photo: Miguel’s war, directed by Eliane Raheb
BHI: Was it difficult to organize a program based on the submissions received?
RM: Every year it gets more difficult because we get more and more submissions. Each year we set higher standards and we lean towards a cohesive range that fits into a specific theme, an umbrella. The hard part is being consistent with our selections and having a healthy mix of powerful, poignant drama and feel-good movies, while experimenting with genres, but luckily we are a dedicated team of moviegoers who love to watch. films and debate above them.
BHI: How did you choose this year’s theme “the excluded and marginalized who reappropriate their own stories”?
RM: After 2 years in the hell of confinement, something has changed in people. We’ve seen a lot of bravery in queer communities around the world and we’ve seen how much has changed. People who hid in the past and would be ashamed of who they are have learned to love and be proud of themselves; they were outcasts, marginalized and couldn’t fit into any community and now they are building theirs and we want to celebrate that with them. We’ve all been that kid at some point in our lives.
Photo: Kojin’s Many Lives, directed by Diako Yazdani
BHI: How does Berlin as a creative environment contribute to the festival?
RM: Berlin has always been a hub for new platforms and a nice mix of diverse people. And the way identities and queerness are perceived in Berlin is so free that it allows us to experience the festival and what we stand for. And we love this city so much for these reasons.
BHI: What are your hopes for the future of the festival?
RM: Well, I certainly hope to expand and improve the festival every year. Like, much, much bigger hopefully from a mainstream perspective, but I want to keep that underground vibe that allows smaller projects and voices to have a platform. I would like to have a jury and prizes in the next editions. I also want the festival to spread to other European cities, and what we have started working on; for example, we are organizing our next 3rd edition in Amsterdam from October 28 to November 1, in collaboration with IQMF and we are very happy!
Photo: Miguel’s war, directed by Eliane Raheb
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