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Documenting Queer Diaspora (with CIMS)

GEM Lab Events

FEB 19, 2021

Friday September 19th, 2021, 2pm (Online Event)

Eisha Marjara and Atif Siddiqi, moderated by Gregorio Pablo Rodríguez-Arbolay Jr.


Introduction to Event and Series
Nhan Tran & Gregorio Pablo Rodríguez-Arbolay Jr

Presentation 1
Eisha Marjara, including clips from Desperately Seeking Helen (1998) and Venus (2017).

Presentation 2
Atif Siddiqi, including clips from Solo (2003), Take Me As I Am (Demo, with Eisha Marjara) and House for Sale (2012).

Discussion of House for Sale
Eisha Marjara & Atif Siddiqi

Q&A 1
Topics: How has your experience living working and creating in Montreal / Quebec influenced your work? Impacted your perspectives on gender, race or society in your work?
Queer Spaces, Trans life, cultural landscapes, alienation. Transcultural themes, migration, meaning of home, Quebec film space, how the work gets categorized.

Q&A 2
Topics: Comments; references to use of color and queerness / the othering of queerness as only for the centreville in House for Sale. As artists interested in queer identity, do you feel Montreal / Quebec has given more visibility to queerness now?
Importance of Image+Nation, labs and academic work in forefronting queer work. Progressive around lgbtq+ issues, but there’s more work to unpack intersectionality of the experience. The difficulties of classifications, gatekeeping work into nightclubs, or very niche venues for either your racial, gender or sexual identity. The “whiteout” of spaces outside Montreal in Quebec. Associated difficulties with funding and display of the work.

Q&A 3
Topics: Observations from Raed, a lebanese queer filmmaker; similarities in experience and resonance of work. The coming out film, how Atif arrived at that moment and putting that moment on film both as a queer filmmaker and a queer person?
The film board not knowing if the footage was going to work, the re-use of similar interactions becoming easier over time. Using the power of a filmmaker. Suggestion of using a discussion on camera of queerness as a way in if you are not out. Discussion of the question askers experience.

Q&A 4
Topics: Queer Immigrants in your stories, differences in reactions to queer works in this cultural context versus that of your homeland?
Journeys in other countries, used in a more exaggerated sense rather than a grounded one (Desperately Seeking Helen). To communicate the disconnection, the not feeling at home there anymore. The ache of not feeling at home, the sense of needing to try to fit. Not considered as someone from your homeland anymore, you are considered a foreigner from their perspective.

Q&A 5
Topics: Story behind Gordon Warnecke being cast in Venus (2017).

Q&A 6
Topics: Feeling distant from earlier work, now homing in on the concept of home as you work towards Take Me As I Am. What else is influencing you as you work towards this new project that has been in the works for a while? Have your subjects changed? How does it reflect back on your earlier career?
Opportunity to move life forward, the changes in life since the early films (Atif), where are we going next (Atif). The shift in the concept of home due to COVID, the technology of home, the movement of people out to the countryside due to the pandemic.

Gregorio Pablo Rodríguez-Arbolay Jr


Link to original event post.

The Global Emergent Media Lab‘s Race Critical Theories series and Cinema in the Midst of Struggle present a conversation with filmmakers Atif Siddiqi & Eisha Marjara. Trailblazers of QTPOC film and video since the late 1990s, this event will discuss their works amidst the challenges of diasporic queer and trans representation in Québec. Confronting traditional heteronormative narratives, Siddiqi and Marjara’s films capture intimate portraits of the socio-cultural landscapes of South-Asian experience in Montréal. Alongside this discussion, the directors will also present a screening of Marjara’s short film (featuring Siddiqi) House for Sale (2012), amongst other clips of films and videos from throughout their careers.

Event moderated by Gregorio Pablo Rodríguez-Arbolay (PhD Candidate, Humanities).

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