12 months ago

Love as a Catalyst for Change

Insights from the panel discussion “50 Shades of Love”, and queer representation in Cinema

In a thought-provoking panel discussion centered on love and queer representation in cinema, local and regional filmmakers and directors shared their experiences and perspectives on the power of love, the impact of social conflicts, and the responsibility of artists to shape narratives that promote inclusivity and acceptance. The discussion provided a glimpse into the challenges faced by queer individuals, both in their personal lives and within the film industry, and shed light on the role of cinema as a platform for positive change.

Blerta Zeqiri, director of the groundbreaking film “Martesa,” the first queer-themed film from Kosovo, began the conversation by sharing her insights into the profound connection between love and societal conflicts. Drawing inspiration from her experiences during the making of “Martesa,” she expressed how witnessing repetitive cinematic portrayals of war and conflict had left her feeling fatigued. Blerta passionately highlighted the need to expose alternative narratives, ones that depict love and positivity.

“As artists, we bear the responsibility for what we create. Now, as the director of the Cinematography Center of Kosovo, I aim to infuse more love into the bigger picture by empowering the industry to speak about love,” said Blerta Zeqiri.

While, Erblin Nushi a filmmaker from Peja, stated the urge for inclusive representation in Cinema and in the industry as a whole. Nushi reflected on his upbringing as a queer boy in a society that only showcased a narrow view of love in the media. Erblin stressed the importance of fostering an inclusive environment, especially in media representation, to ensure that young generations can see love in all its forms.

“It remains unfortunate that the younger generations still lack inclusivity in the media we consume. The main challenge lies in the inability to see love between people of the same gender,” emphasized Erblin Nushi who will be premiering a new movie, with the theme LOVE, later in September this year. Erblin shared his recent accomplishment, a heartwarming film portraying a child’s experience of first love, with the intent of depicting a future filled with hope for LGBTQ+ individuals. He believes that filmmaking holds immense potential, despite the challenges of the industry.

While, Marko Djeska, a filmmaker from Croatia, talked about the role that cinema, and artists have in unmasking the realities of love for transgender individuals while sharing his experience while creating his movie “Sensations of the Belly”. He recounted his journey while creating his movie, an animated documentary focused on the story of transgender women. Marko emphasized the core challenge faced by trans women in their pursuit of love and acceptance.

“Creating this film, I initially set out to depict her transition but soon realized that the real challenge was her search for love – sincere and genuine love. For trans women, finding love is even more challenging and has so many struggles. They are often faced with the dilemma of hiding their true identity or risking rejection or violence,” explained Marko Djeska.

The panelists agreed that the film industry should include Love and happy love more in the stories of queer people while stating that the industry is changing worldwide, but not as much in countries such as Kosova, where film democratization remains a challenge, and queer content is not normalized in mainstream media.  

The panel discussion highlighted the pivotal role that cinema plays in shaping societal perceptions of love and acceptance. Each director’s unique perspective demonstrated the potential of cinema to drive positive change, foster empathy, and promote inclusivity. By challenging societal norms and advocating for diverse representation, these filmmakers have shown that the power of love can transcend borders and contribute to a more compassionate world. As we move forward, filmmakers, storytellers, and audiences need to embrace and celebrate love in all its beautiful manifestations.

This was the second panel discussion, organized on behalf of the 14th edition of the Anibar – Animation Festival in Peja. On the next panel, which will be held today at 5 p.m. at the Art Gallery in Peja, another panel will discuss Self Love.

Leonora Aliu