XPOSED Queer Film Festival Berlin // 15.-18.06.23

YEN ©Julia Feige

The XPOSED Queer Film Festival Berlin is back with its 17th edition! With 14 feature films and 44 short films produced in 28 countries, XPOSED will once again present a fantastic program in various Berlin venues and take queer filmmaking to the big screen from June 15 to June 18.


graphic by Marion Habringer www.marionhabringer.com

‘The 17th XPOSED Queer Film Festival Berlin celebrates queerness as an approach, an experience full of ambivalences, and a perspective on the past and present.’, says Merle Groneweg, festival director of XPOSED. ‘We are excited to share and discuss these moving films with our community. The search for connection and ancestry is a central theme.’ 

MUTT ©Mikaela Lungulov-Klotz

The complexity of queer existence, different expectations and the hope for healing

The audience is invited to take in the complexity of queer lives, thoughts and feelings around the world. In delicately weaving the stories together, in linking one tender documentary with another stark narrative, we invite you to soak up the complexities of queer lives, thoughts, and feelings across the world. Now and then: sites of disturbance! Ancestors are called upon; ambivalences endure even when one generation passes on the torch to another. Expectations collide. It’s easy to get swept up in the depth of doubts and grief, but below lies something else. Healing glows in the distance. The 17th XPOSED Queer Film Festival Berlin celebrates queerness as an approach, an experience, and a perspective on the world and invites you on another cinematic journey!

Marte Um ©GabrielMartin

A vision of dreams, doubts and fears of an annihilated generation is reflected in Theo Montoya’s debut feature documentary Anhell69, which will open the 17th edition of XPOSED. A funeral car cruises the streets of Medellín, while a young director (Montoya) tells the story of his past in this violent and conservative city. He remembers the pre-production of his first film, a B-movie with ghosts. The young queer scene of Medellín is cast for the film, but the main protagonist dies of a heroin overdose at the age of 21, just like many friends of the director. In Kokomo City, Two-time Grammy nominee D. Smith takes the audience to New York and Georgia to present the stories of four Black transgender sex workers. Shot in striking black and white, the boldness of the facts of these women’s lives and the earthquake frankness they share complicate this enterprise. We mourn for Koko Da Doll, one of the four protagonists, who was shot dead in Atlanta in April. Once again this murder sheds light on the precarious situation of marginalized life, especially those of Black trans women within the sex industry. Her legacy will be remembered, also through Smith’s lens.

Gabriel Martins’ Marte um (Mars One) portrays the life of the Martin family, optimistic dreamers, quietly leading their lives on the margins of Belo Horizonte, Brazil, following the disappointing election of a far-right extremist president. As a lower-middle-class Black family, they feel the strain of their new reality as the political dust settles. The drama was submitted by Brazil as an entry for the 2023 Academy Awards in the Best International Film category. Back in Germany, director Nicolaas Schmidt takes the audience on a trip in FIRST TIME [The Time for All but Sunset – VIOLET]. Two boys meet on a train ride. Something is born – not much and yet everything. They listen to music and are on their way. In doing so, the two strangers see things and the world differently than before.

Too Rough ©Sean Lìonadh

XPOSED is also happy to show this year’s winner of the Teddy Award for Best Feature Film, the Berlinale’s queer film prize: All the Colours of the World Are Between Black and White by Babatunde Apalowo. It is the first Nigerian film to centre a queer/gay storyline, delicately and consciously told more through gestures than words. Next to the Teddy winner, the audience can look forward to another festival buzz title of last year’s season: Le Bleu du Caftan (The Blue Caftan) by Maryam Touzani. A heartfelt story on reflection, understanding and unconditional love.

Seven short film programs on filmmaking as survival and the urge for acceptance

Apart from 14 feature-length films, XPOSED is excited to present seven short film programs with 44 queer films from all over the world. At times filmmaking becomes a vehicle to combat childhood repression and sexual control (Let My Body Speak by Madonna Adib), while it can also document drastic changes, exile and the hope for a new beginning (Dovşan getmək qərarına gəlir (Bunny Decides To Go) by Vusala Hajiyeva, Memórias Reveladas (Memories Revealed) by Quentin Worthington). Acceptance and love get searched within nuclear constructions of families (Dang wo wang xiang ni de shi hou (Will You Look At Me) by Shuli Huang), or the quest for love turns into a dark comedy to linger the heartbreak (How Not To Date While Trans by Nyala Moon). And at times, even the ones from our own community must face their internalized hatred (Too Rough by Sean Lìonadh).

All The Colours ©PolymathPictures

The program was curated by a team of four: Merle Groneweg, Pol Merchan, Sarnt Utachamote and Kareem Baholzer. 2023 was Baholzer’s first year as a curator with XPOSED.

Nation-wide online program and three Berlin venues

With an online component built into the festival structure, XPOSED looks forward to creating once more a program that is accessible from all over Germany.  Apart from the African queer classic DAKANby Mohamed Camara (Guinea, 1997), two short film programs will be available online via Salzgeber Club. While Kino Moviemento remains the heart of the festival, this year XPOSED will again return to the cinema’s Wolf Kino and Il Kino.

The XPOSED Lolly & Audience Awards and the 9th Queer Short Film Fund

On June 18th at 8 pm, the winners of the three Lolly Awards will be announced at Moviemento cinema. The awards are meant to give visibility to the winning films and their filmmakers, thus ultimately supporting queer voices in film distribution. Each Lolly Award comes with a €250 cash prize.

The 2023 Lolly Award jury members are film curators, filmmakers, performance artists and queer academics Ncube, Sannee Est, Kristýna Genttnerova, and Mònica Rovira. They will also announce the winner of the 9. Queer Short Film Fund. The XPOSED team will announce the winners of the XPOSED Audience Award for Feature-Length Film and the XPOSED Audience Award for Short Film.

For the first time this year, thanks to the support from the Goethe Institute, the XPOSED Pop Up Campus will also be held within the framework of the Queer Short Film Fund and parallel to the festival; offering a series of workshops and talks to 20 registered guests. The Pop Up Campus aims to offer support to queer filmmaking in many areas of production, from development to budgeting as well as festival strategies and practical preparation support. Everyone who has submitted a project will have the opportunity to participate. Registrations for the workshops will open on the 25th of May 2023 on the website of the festival. 

FIRST TIME ©Taeck Goldt

Projects for the 9th Queer Short Film Fund can be submitted here.

Further highlights at the 17th festival edition

In addition to the extensive film programme, Berlin audiences can look forward to  other highlights apart from the cinema screen:

On June 16th and 17th, the Aquarium am Südblock will once again host the Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon on Queer Experimental Film, which will explore the construction and writing of Wikipedia articles with a focus on queer, experimental films. No previous experience is required, but pre-registration is requested at thomas@xposedfimfestival.com, as well as bringing your own laptop. There will also be an interactive VR installation, Scanning the Horizon: An Immersive Archive by Benjamin Busch. From June 15-18 2023 in the lounge of the Moviemento cinema.

“The festival could not have happened without the dedication of its team as well as the financial support by the Senate Department for Culture and Europe, the Bezirksamt Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, Aktion Mensch and QueerScope. A big thank you goes out to our cooperation partners: 25p CineSupport, Planemo Film, Mubi Deutschland, Salzgeber Club, Myer’s Hotel, Hinkelstein Druck, Plakat Kultur, Vulva Secco and Lemonaid & ChariTea.”

The full program for the 17th XPOSED Queer Film Festival will be available soon online at: xposedfilmfestival.com