Film screening presented by Queer City Cinema and Regina Public Library Film Theatre
Guest curated by Christina Hajjar
September 17, 2022
Under street lamps, fireworks, sunshine, and candlelight, yearning faces glow. Eyes search, wander, and avert, exploring the depths of desire. Queer subjects meet peering eyes, and gaze is returned in dissidence and refusal, in lust and in love, in longing and in determination.
Looking Back at You is a program of narrative and experimental short films contemplating agency and the queer gaze through stories of gender, romance, and the land. We bear witness to the ways in which queerness is negotiated and expressed in various contexts, instigating queer and trans methods of codeswitching, subversion, and reclamation in the face of power.
“My eye is a glass prism,” says the narrator in Razan AlSalah’s Canada Park, before taking us on a historical autofictive journey from Canada to Palestine through Google Street View. Through film, we come to understand queer looking as an agent of truth and change. In her book Unruly Visions, scholar Gayatri Gopinath affirms that the aesthetic practices of queer diaspora “disrupt the normative ways of seeing and knowing that have been so central to the production, containment, and disciplining of sexual, racial, and gendered bodies.” Thus, a queer lens impacts our experiences as makers and viewers of film— expanding the potential of what the moving image can do and represent.
“We queer our work every time we speak truth to power and find ways of turning power’s gaze back on itself,” says writer Zeyn Joukhadar in Mizna, Vol. 21.2. “When oppressive systems are upheld by the narratives they prescribe and control, what is queerer than the gaze of the oppressed?”
Ishtar is an experimental short film based on the gender fluid Mesopotamian deity. The film looks at the coloniality of gender and re-addresses the way in which the UK has imposed the gender binary on PoC. It is an affirmation of our historical and present existence. Ishtar hosts a feast in an English country garden for five gender non-conforming/trans/non-binary siblings of colour. Each guest holds the history of their ancestors and their present day selves.
Shapeshifter(s) is an experimental short film by Khairullah Rahim which looks into the tactics of being, specifically in considering the interconnecting e/affects between objects, bodies and community. The film features a monologue inspired by the frequent mass extermination of pigeons that takes place in broad daylight. These operations were reportedly led by licensed specialist pest control contractors with approval from relevant authorities. The pigeon appears intermittently across the film which was shot entirely in Boon Lay, a working class neighbourhood in Singapore. The neighbourhood is also notably infamous for reporting high(er) numbers in organised crime activities as highlighted by the local press. While many associate light closely with notions of safety, there are also lights which illuminate more intensely on some than others. There is an uncanny parallel between the policing of pigeons and marginalised folks, whose bodies are constantly navigating and code-switching in between desire, shame and restraint under surveillance in a hostile environment.
I walk on snow to fall unto the desert. I find myself on unceded indigenous territory in so called Canada, an exile unable to return to Palestine. I trespass the colonial border as a digital spectre floating through Ayalon-Canada Park, transplanted over three Palestinian villages razed by the Israeli Defense Forces in 1967.
Cotton is a plant with connotations that far surpass its delicate white flowers, bringing to mind issues of enforced labour, of exploitation and of colonialism. Yet the very crop for which creole women were forced into labour, offered a form of herbal resistance: cotton root bark could be used as birth control. Herbal knowledge carefully gathered and held, was used amongst the women to defy a lineage of servitude. Beneath the inherent violence of the slave economic system, we find quiet resistance and moments of deep, loving rebellion.
Unable to move on from a breakup, Gabriela impulsively drops into an old job,
where she unexpectedly runs into a friend from her past.
Houbout / Landing
Chantal Partamian, 2020, 2:24 min
A poetical essay that very briefly explores fragments of a long distance relationship, when two lovers meet, when they are caught in transit.
Inside an old hammam, now set up as a spa, an elderly masseuse, Avani, reflects her long-gone brother on Shantanu. In the interior of the hammam, Shantanu finds comfort in Huzaifa’s arms. Their bare bodies shine and glimmer in the sunlight and steam haze. But Huzaifa has to leave soon, the aroma of the spa has started suffocating him. Shantanu is left craving for his touch. As a sense of touch lingers through all of their bodies, the purple light reflects on the hot spring water and Shantanu’s flower-painted body dances to a mythical story of a chameleon.
Nikki spices things up at her mom’s struggling tofu restaurant while working to afford her breast augmentation surgery.