Queer Zagreb

Queer Zagreb is an international festival that took place for the first time
in Croatia from April 25-30, 2003. It presented an extensive program
which included theater, dance, film and visual art, as well as a
symposium of papers from around the globe focused on queer sexuality, art
and activism. It was a pioneer event of its kind in post-communist Europe, and
was presented throughout the city in some of Zagreb’s most established
venues. The festival’s main goal was to use art, activism and theory as a catalyst
to raise awareness about and visibility for queer people, all the while
questioning heteronormativity. These goals were achieved with more than 150
articles in Croatian newspapers and over five hours of TV and radio coverage
dedicated to the festival. Queer people in the region now have a public voice
and identity and are developing mechanisms and programs to further a
regional queer rights movement. Since the end of Queer Zagreb, portions of
the original festival program have toured to other towns around Croatia
including Rijeka, Opatija, Osijek, Pula, Tabor and Vis.
Queer Zagreb 2004 will take place April 23-30, 2004 and will focus on
music and film. It will present such artists as The London Gay Symphony
Orchestra (UK), John Kelly (USA), Tribe 8 (USA), London, Paris and Berlin club
scenes, as well as numerous other artists and activists from China, Spain, Czech
Republic, Serbia, Slovenia, Moldova, Bosnia and Macedonia. We are also
putting together an extensive program dedicated to gay skinheads with over
ten films on the subject, and will have visiting filmmakers and skinheads from
around Europe to participate in the post-screening discussions. In its regular
film program, the festival will screen over twenty of the most recent feature
films as well as approximately fifty shorts and documentaries from around the
world. We are also producing and commissioning local artists and their work
and presenting it in the festival program. Additional events, which will show
parts of the original Zagreb program, are Queer Rijeka (April 28-May 1, 2004)
and Queer Osijek (May 7-9, 2004).
In 2005, Queer Zagreb will be dedicated to examining heteronormativity
among youth and children since they are the last line of defence of heterosexist
society. This means they usually cannot hear or see anything positive
about queers in the environment in which they spend most time (schools or
kindergartens). Therefore, the festival will try to look into different ways that
children are “protected” from queer “influence.” Queer Zagreb 2005 will put
together a program of interest to youth and children which focuses on
questioning heteronormalcy. Again, we are doing this in cooperation with
responsible government institutions in order to reach a wider population as
well as education and youth programs decision makers.
One of the bigger projects we are developing at the moment is the
establishment of queer studies as an additional field of research for university
students in Zagreb, as well as for civil society activists. The focus of the studies
will be construction and deconstruction of norms (hetero and homo alike). The
pilot project should begin in 2005, with a few prior visiting lectures.
Queer Zagreb is a project very much dedicated to strengthenig local and
regional initiatives and is collaborating with almost all organizations in the area
on achieving this goal. Further information on our program and plans can be
found at www.queerzagreb.org and we can be contacted at
queerzagreb@email.hinet.hr

Zvonimir Dobrovic is Program Director of Queer Zagreb.