LGBT Film Festival to Return in January

By Tin Htet Paing 16 December 2015

RANGOON — Organizers of Rangoon’s first ever LGBT film festival say the event will return for a second time in January to once again showcase lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender-themed films from Burma and overseas.

The &PROUD Film Festival will return to the French Institute in Rangoon’s Sanchaung Township between Jan. 29-31 with free admission for all screenings. The event is being staged by a number of local organizations, including local LGBT advocacy group Colors Rainbow and YG Events, best known for staging the monthly FAB queer-friendly club night. Organizers plan to showcase more films focusing on female and female-identifying characters to counter what they say is a genre of film that often focuses of male experience.

“We will be promoting more films about female empowerment this year, which means the festival will be featuring more films about lesbian and transgender women,” said Hla Myat Tun of Colors Rainbow.

The festival will feature nearly 40 films from Asian and European countries, including at least five films from local filmmakers. Hla Myat Tun told The Irrawaddy that organizers were able to expand the program with more time to consider potential films this year, but intend to prioritize Asian films.

“The festival also wants to highlight the ideas behind LGBT identity that are not only in Western culture but also in the Asian community”, he said.

Events relating to LGBT issues in Burma still have a number of hurdles to surmount.

As the country began to open in 2011, sexual and gender equality issues began to creep into public dialogue but members of the LGBT community still face legal threats and entrenched discrimination.

While homosexuality remains illegal in Burma, with the colonial-era Penal Code mandating prison sentences of up to 10 years for same-sex activity, the country’s LGBT community is working to raise public awareness over gender and sexuality issues.

Hla Myat Tun said that members of Burma’s LGBT community have to contend with negative stereotyping in films in addition to cultural and religious vilification.