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Gender Fluidity in the Balkans

(Christina, 2022)

Gender is often an unwelcome word in Balkan countries, especially regarding social and cultural differences rather than “biological” ones, or when referring to a whole range of other identities that do not correspond to the established ideas of male and female. There are few films on LGBTQ+ topics being made in the Balkans, and certainly not with money from official (state-funded) film agencies. However, in this rather grim situation, several NGOs are actively trying to stand for the rights of LGBTQ+ people. They keep the debate alive and regularly organise Pride parades. The marchers during the Pride are often attacked, suffering physical and verbal abuse. 

Through existing films that depict the struggle or just the life of LGBTQ+ persons, one can observe the broader spirit of the society, in which we see the forces of conservatism and patriotism but also tendencies of change and fresh liberal thinking.

Four chosen films; a documentary, a docufiction and a fiction film, observe the topic from different angles and each opens a huge territory to be seen and discussed. Bozo Vreco, an enfant terrible of the Balkan cultural scene, sings and dances beautifully, performs all over the world, and now opened his heart in a documentary film Maldita, A Love Song to Sarajevo by Amaia Remirez and Raul de la Fuente Calle. Christina by Nikola Spasic (Serbia) is a successful, engaging and influential docufiction that premiered at FID Marseille. It’s about a transgender sex worker in Serbia. Kristina, who plays herself in the film, is religious. LGBT_SLO_1984 by Boris Petkovic (Slovenia) is a documentary that opens with the Magnus Gay Culture Festival, which took place in 1984 in the SKUC theatre in Ljubljana and which included the LGBT Film Festival – the first of its kind in Europe. Women Do Cry by Mina Mileva and Vesela Kazakova (Bulgaria) competed at Un Certain Regard at the Cannes Festival in 2021. Set in the capital, Sofia, the film depicts 19-year-old Sonja, diagnosed with HIV, and the women in her family who flock around and support her.