Baku cinema features local film about LGBTQI+ for the first time in Azerbaijan
Azerbaijani feature-length film about LGBTQI+
The screening of the first local feature film dedicated to LGBTQI+ problems took place in Baku. The film premiered on the International Day Against Biphobia, Homophobia, and Transphobia.
The JAMnews correspondent met with the filmmakers and asked about the process of its creation.
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The premiere of The Sun on My Body feature film within the framework of the Minority Azerbaijan project took place on May 17 – the International Day against Biphobia, Homophobia and Transphobia.
The director and screenwriter of the film is a trans woman Mirai Deniz Ismail, the cameraman is Nigar Safarova. The screening of the film was supported by Baku Community Space and the British Embassy in Azerbaijan.
The film deals with the fate of a lesbian couple, a trans woman longing for the joys of family life, and a gay man who is not getting along with his partner. Throughout the film, the audience empathizes with the characters making different decisions amid the difficulties they must face.
According to the director and screenwriter of the film, Miraya Deniz, she has long wanted to create something that sheds light on the queer society in Azerbaijan:
“I interviewed queers, wrote about them. But that wasn’t enough. I thought that I was studying to be a director and there was practically no feature film about the LGBTQI+ community in Azerbaijan. There are short films, and I decided to shoot a full-length feature film.
I don’t really like that in many LGBTQI+ themed films around the world, most of the actors are actually cis-hetero [heterosexuals – JAMnews]. In our world, the situation is not such that the role of a cis-hetero person is played by a queer. For example, trans women almost never play the role of cis-hetero. In that case, why should a trans woman be played by a cis-hetero?! If the conditions for all are equal, this must be considered”.
It was desirable that the role of a trans woman was played by one of the queers. I got my team together to make a queer film. The whole process took several months. In this film, I am both a director, and a screenwriter, responsible for technical work, and even a leading lady. I played Rita. I’m glad we made this movie. I am especially glad that the premiere of the film coincided with such a significant day”.
Minority Azərbaycan coordinator Gulnara Mehdiyeva emphasizes that Azerbaijan ranks last in the ILGA Europe ranking for LGBTQI+ rights. The country has been holding this unenviable position for several years now.
“Minority Azərbaycan aims to prepare materials on LGBTQI+ in all formats. We believe that we can convey our ideas better in the form of visual art”, Mehdieva says.
According to her, May 17 is celebrated every year across the world:
“In Azerbaijan, the queer society is often subjected to violence, hate crimes, murders. Of the latter, the murder of Avaz Hafizli on the basis of hatred can be noted, at the same time there are public calls for reprisals against representatives of the queer society, all this remains unpunished. In various hospitals, doctors refuse to accept LGBTQI+ patients for treatment. And all this goes on and on. This happened last year and continues this year…
And we believe that it is necessary to support the queer society, use different platforms so that they can convey their words to others. It is important to do this with the help of music, films, etc”.
The performer of one of the roles in the film, Fargana Abdullah, says that when she received an offer to star in the film, she had some doubts:
“But when we started talking about the idea and the roles, I liked it, because. in the film, I play myself, there is no need to enter into some kind of someone else’s image. It was not foreign to me.
It was strange to look at myself from the outside. There were no problems during filming. And from the outside, when I watched the film, it was as if I was looking at myself. This is my role in life. To advise someone about something, to explain something to people.
Great experience and strange feelings. I think that if we had the opportunity to shoot the film longer, it would have been even more effective. In this case, there would be more time for technical subtleties. I only regret this. And if there was even more budget, more people would be able to get acquainted with our work”.