TRANSFINITE – Scottish Queer International Film Festival

“As infinite as nature itself”

Neelu Bhuman’s omnibus of short films TRANSFINITE defies the expectations of a societal construct and achieves a place as a force of nature. The sixth annual Scottish Queer International Film Festival will run October 14th to 18th 2020, with the full programme available in August, but for now, these accessible digital productions should be engaged with. 

Screening alongside a selection of Black queer short films beginning June 25th until June 28th, SQIFFLIX will host Neelu Bhuman’s sci-fi collection of series of seven short stories. Collectively, they spread across various cultures and backgrounds, as various trans and queer people use their supernatural gifts to educate, share, love, fight and thrive. Following the premiere, there will be a live discussion with Black queer UK artists taking place on Saturday, June 27th at 7 pm.

From the subversive narrative of Nova or Shayla to the blunt rally cry and empowerment of Viva, the seven films range in their capability to communicate, but each screams of the capable talents of their producers and echoes the necessity of diverse and accomplished film-makers and promotion of their voices. 

Whether a message of preserving our ecosystems, tying into the film’s value of nature or a playful piece depicting the often untalked about the parental environment of polygamy – TRANSFINITE encompasses all, while highlighting the necessity to endorse queer and black film-makers. Perhaps best demonstrated in Davina Spain’s piece Viva, and though as blunt as a hammer, it categorically addresses the issues that, in 2020, shouldn’t be issues. Shouldn’t need to be shocking revelations or be confronted with confusion and hatred, but addressed.

And even as the quality of pieces varies, none are without merit or substance. With this, the three pieces NajmeAsura and Maya stand-out for similar, yet also strikingly different reasons. Plunging deeper into myth, rather than the general sci-fi premise exudes, Najme and Asura concentrate their storytelling into an archaic form of a fable, particularly with Najme’s depiction of the Naga – a half-woman, half-serpent creature. Tempting, beautiful and cunning, the ignorant mindset of a scaley, phallic creature lurking beneath an outward aesthetic is something many cannot overcome, and more harrowingly an inward projection of aggression for the lead themselves. It’s the complex thought-process, the everyday existence for these producers, which offers insight for many and makes SQIFFLIX an important festival. 

Projecting mythos in a more positive light, Asura and Maya utilise a nature of understanding, and love, one from a familial and the other a romantic/physical dynamic. Ryka Aoki’s writing for Asura is the most accomplished as a complete narrative, tying together humour with the physicality of the role and storytelling, combining the artistry of dance with the intensity of martial arts. Dance, if anything, is the singular theme throughout the series of films, with a sense of movement, a fluidity if you will, evident in all. These freeing routines, often open with the elements, exposing bodies to the world, offers a frank connection and resistance to the bitterness of those who misunderstand.

Seeking unity through core parallels, the seven short films differ in design, capability, and premise, but throughout they share a common ideal and goal which stretches beyond movement and aesthetics. The collective speaks that, like anything, our bodies are akin to nature itself, uncontrollable by any who seek to impose a doctrine, belief, or policy onto it, despite how brutally they attempt to.

Alongside Vision Portraits, which launched earlier in June, access to both films can be located from www.sqiff.org, where online tickets can be purchased on a pay-what-you-can basis from £0-£8. Ticket holders will be able to access the films at any point during the online run. Live Q&A sessions will stream on www.facebook.com/sqiff June 27th.

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