GAZE 2023

GAZE Film Festival returns for its 31st edition, August 2nd – 7th

by Brian Bowe

One of Dublin’s most highly-anticipated film events of the year, GAZE Film Festival returns to theatres across Dublin with an eclectic programme celebrating the best in LGBTQIA cinema, while also continuing GAZE Online for the whole of Ireland to take part.

Running since 1992, the festival’s mission is to advance equality and promote visibility of LGBTQIA experiences by showcasing and celebrating these narratives on screen. This year’s jam-packed festival will feature 114 fifilms from 25 countries, including a dozen Irish premieres, ten European premieres, six world premieres, and many other films making their Dublin and/or international cinema debut across a packed features and shorts programme.

“A wealth of LGBTQIA fifilms on offer this year left us spoiled for choice,” said Festival Director Greg Thorpe.“ Music, romance, sex, comedy, horror, documentary and incredible story-telling have all found
their place in the programme. I am particularly excited for our programming partnerships with Iris Prize, Red Umbrella Film Festival, Queer Lisboa and aemi, and our special festival guest, David Hoyle, a living
legend. Thirty years since decriminalisation is worth celebrating and seeing ourselves reflected back on screen is part of why GAZE exists. Join us in both celebrating progress and demanding change, together.”

The programme comes during a landmark year, the 30th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Ireland. To celebrate this year’s milestone, you will find films in the programme that celebrate gay sexuality in many different guises, honouring the past, embracing the present, and paving the way for a brighter future.

Trans filmmaking plays a key part in this year’s festival. GAZE 2023 will feature a host of captivating trans shorts and features that delve deep into their stories and experiences, reflecting on community, identity, joy, fantasy and freedom. Films to look out for include Who I Am Not, which centres the experiences of three extraordinary individuals who all identify as intersex. Inspired by activism surrounding the film, the festival is subtitled ‘LGBTQIA’ for the first time (bringing the ‘+’ out of the shadows, as Thorpe puts it). Also screening is Katie McNeice’s Irish short Lambing, exploring stories about intersex and asexual life and other less heard experiences.

David Hoyle’s The Ten Commandments
David Hoyle’s The Ten Commandments (Image credit: Accenture)

The iconic performance artist David Hoyle features heavily in this year’s programme, including the premiere of HEDDA (After Ibsen), a film reimagining of the Ibsen classic, by director Jen Heyes. Both David and Jen will be in conversation with Festival Director, Greg Thorpe. Plus, you can also catch Hoyle’s live stage show The Ten Commandments at the Project Arts Centre as part of GAZE.

You’ll notice a musical twist to this year’s programme with documentaries focusing on two iconic gay bands, The Indigo Girls (It’s Only Life After All) and The Hidden Cameras (Music Is My Boyfriend). Inspired by these stories the GAZE programming team have themed festival shorts selections around gay dancefloor favourites – from the timeless anthem Smalltown Boy to the electrifying Bad Romance, these films promise to transport you to a world of rhythm and passion.

This year GAZE welcomes a film selection from its Portuguese film counterparts at Queer Lisboa, who have sent over a selection of shorts. GAZE is also reviving a partnership with the Iris Prize, who present a collection of shorts this year, and will also join for a workshop offering invaluable insights and networking opportunities for anyone who wants to work with short films in their career. Be sure to look out for the hotly-anticipated, longawaited People’s Joker, a film which unfortunately got cancelled from 2022’s festival but is thankfully going ahead this year. Kept alive by word of mouth, the movie features the debut from Emmy-nominated editor and jester visionary Vera Drew, who brings a mix of anti-comedy, animation and transsexual clowns – all made with the help of over 100 artists. The screening will be followed by an in-conversation event with Drew herself at the Light House cinema on Saturday 5 August. This is sure to be an unforgettable experience for film enthusiasts and fans of innovative storytelling alike.

Goran Stolevski’s Of An Age
Goran Stolevski’s Of An Age (Image credit: Thuy Vy / © Of An Age Films Pty Ltd)

On Monday August 7, this festival’s award winners will be announced live at the Closing Gala screening of coming of age Australian comedy drama Of An Age. This year’s jurors each bring a unique perspective and expertise to the table, they include: Irish broadcaster Brendan Courtney; independent art curator and writer, Diana Bamimeke; Researcher, writer and artist, Han Tiernan; and multimedia artist, Austin Hearne.

GAZE International Film Festival is kindly sponsored by Accenture, funded by The Arts Council, Dublin City Council and is supported by venue partners Light House Cinema, the Irish Film Institute (IFI), and the Stella Cinema in conjunction with Press Up.

“We’re thrilled to be the lead sponsor of the GAZE International Film Festival for the 12th year running,” said Enda King, Executive Sponsor, Pride Network at Accenture in Ireland. “This year’s programme is packed with inspiring, entertaining, and thought-provoking pieces from across the LGBTQIA community. At Accenture, we support our people to be their authentic selves at work every day and we’re proud to work alongside the team at GAZE to champion greater diversity of representation and shine a light on these incredible stories.”

Tickets are available directly from screening venues Irish Film Institute, IFI@Home, or The Light House cinema and The Stella cinemas. Tickets on sale now.

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