GAZE kicks off 2023 festival with sold-out Opening Gala

GAZE International LGBTQIA Film Festival runs from August 3 to 7, offering a total of 114 titles from 25 countries.

A yellow cinema screen with GAZE branding at the festival's Opening Gala.

On Thursday, August 3, GAZE International LGBTQIA Film Festival kicked off for 2023 with a fabulous, sold-out Opening Gala in Dublin’s Light House Cinema. The screening was the first of a multitude taking place over the Bank Holiday weekend, with the event set to conclude on Monday, August 7.

The gala started with a drinks reception at 7pm, with a number of industry professionals, special guests and queer cinema fanatics in attendance. At 8pm, the screening started, with audience members welcomed by GAZE chairperson Tom Creed, Festival Director Greg Thorpe and Enda King of Accenture Ireland, the festival’s lead sponsor.

Cinema-goers were then treated to two excellent films, the first being the pre-feature short, Outsiders, directed by Rishi Chamman, and the second being the feature The Lost Boys (Le Paradis), directed by Zeno Graton.


Including the Opening Gala, there are a total of 114 titles from 25 countries to enjoy across the weekend of GAZE, taking place in either the Light House Cinema, Irish Film Institute (IFI), Stella Cinema, Project Arts Centre or Workman’s Club.

A real highlight of this year’s programme are the trans films. According to Junior Programmer James Hudson, “2023 sees trans cinema emerging in every shape and form throughout the GAZE programme, from grounded dramas to surreal clownsploitation with beautiful documentary highlights of sex workers’ lives within the trans community.

“These feature films and a wild variety of short films ranging across experimental, drama, comedy and horror make a thrilling picture of current trans cinema,” he explained.

Four titles in particular to highlight in terms of trans representation are Kenya, Something You Said Last Night, Finlandia and 20,000 Species of Bees.

Screening on Saturday, August 5, Kenya tells the story of a trans sex worker who persists as a voice for justice in Mexico City after witnessing the murder of her friend by a client. The documentary is screening in partnership with the Red Umbrella Film Festival, a trans-inclusive sex-worker-led collective, that is also presenting a series of short films at GAZE this year.

Something You Said Last Night follows a young trans woman named Ren as she navigates the struggles of becoming an independent young adult while simultaneously being afraid to flee the nest. The film screens in the IFI on Sunday, August 6, and is preceded by the Irish short film Glitterbug.

Also showing on Sunday is Finlandia, which focuses on the muxes, a community of people who live between genders. According to the programmers, the director, Horacio Alcalá, “uses every tool in the filmmaker’s armoury to bring these vivid outsiders to the screen with tenderness, authenticity, respect and majesty.”

As they say, good things come in threes, and Sunday’s third trans highlight is 20,000 Species of Bees. Screening as a GAZE exclusive, the heartwarming Spanish family drama charts the childhood of an eight-year-old trans girl trying her best to make herself seen in a world that is both confused and confusing.

Other titles that stand out among the festival highlights include Three Nights A Week, Ask Any Buddy, Music Is My Boyfriend and Who I Am Not.

Three Nights A Week takes place on Friday, August 4, and follows a confused young man as his life gets turned upside down and covered in sequins when he falls for a hardworking drag star with a tough veneer and vulnerable interior.

Also screening on Friday is Ask Any Buddy, a unique cine-collage that takes viewers on a voyage into the classic porn of yesteryear.

On Saturday, audiences can look forward to Music Is My Boyfriend, a thrilling documentary which charts the explosive early years of The Hidden Cameras, a band that brought powerful sexy gay love songs to the world of indie pop. Following the screening, the group will be performing live in The Workman’s Club, so it makes for the perfect double header!

Among Monday’s lineup is Who I Am Not, an intimate portrait of the lives of two intersex South Africans. It follows beauty queen Sharon-Rose Khumalo and activist Dimakatso Sebidi through the medical world and their personal lives. Tunde Skovran directs the documentary which has already won 10 awards and been nominated for an additional four.

These are just some of the many events to look forward to at GAZE this year, all the way up to Monday’s Closing Gala, with the full programme available here.

© 2023 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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