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Crossover Dreams: Global Circulation of Queer Film on the Film Festival Circuits

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2024

Skadi Loist*
University of Rostock, Germany
Skadi Loist, Universität Rostock, Philosophische Fakultät, Institut für Medienforschung, August-Bebel-Straße 28, 18055 Rostock, Germany. Email:


The ubiquity of gender-bending and sexually ambiguous imagery in the media seems to herald a post-gay era. But are LGBT/Q identities and representation politics really a thing of the past? Inspection of the circulation patterns of LGBT/Q images on a global scale suggests a more nuanced story. Taking the lead from distribution and film festival studies, in this essay I sketch out how LGBT/Q images travel around the world. The festival network was always an alternative channel to mainstream work. Therefore, I pay particular attention to the international film festival circuit with its art film bias, on one hand, and activist festivals, such as LGBT/Q film festivals and their LGBT/Q-themed films, on the other. Utilizing Lisa Henderson's notion of “queer relay” I argue that the relationship between the queer film ecosystem and the larger art film circuit is highly ambivalent. The deployed art film strategies reveal that we have not yet arrived at actual acceptance and universality in a post-gay, post-identitarian world. However, the positions on the side of distinction and cultural capital do not just lean towards exploitation of queer subcultural productions by neoliberal forces but offer also a relay position that accounts for queer agency in the wider cultural arena.

Copyright © ICPHS 2016

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