Cineffable: 11th year Report 1999
The 1999 Cineffable Lesbian Film Festival is growing. This year a system was devised to democratically distribute tickets for the popular event. During off hours the festival attendee had a 70% chance of buying a ticket and at peak times, a 30% chance.

Held at the Andre Malraux Cultural Centre near the Kremlin-Bicetre metro station, the festival can be seen as a multi-level happening. Roughly 50 volunteers comprise the festival staff who dedicatedly work in a non-hierarchical fashion during the year. Parties and events are staged to raise revenue for the films. The festival is entirely paid for by ticket sales and Cineffable receives no outside grants. There is an ongoing art show, a book market and crafts section and ongoing debates on subjects raised by the themes of the films.

As many women during peak hours were unable to get tickets impromtu gatherings in the pit of the centre were a regular occurrence. As most women will tell you, this is a place to meet friends and find out what is happening.What is intriguing about this particular film gathering is that the lesbian public is ready to confront, explore, question and embrace what is relevant--something conspicuously absent in mainstream film culture. Is there sufficient representation of black and Arab women at the festival? Such questions can be counted on to be raised.

Selection of the films fulfill several criteria. As the festival realizes there are many more films coming from the USA then for example India, they demand more from the North American entrants. Some of the staff have worked on the Creteil International Festival outside Paris which normally does not accept many lesbian films so they try to take up the slack here and present these. Each year's films are shown within specific thematic areas based on the work submitted. Sometimes the films reflect areas which are controversial. For example, there are many entries with transgender topics being sent to the festival. The preponderance of them has made the festival organisers realize the need to display these films and thereby address the issues they raise. Ironically, only a few years ago, films with themes on sexuality began to emerge whereas today such a theme is a common one.

Most of the women agree that a larger space is necessary to accomodate the women attending--many who travel from long distances within France and from other European countries as well as North America. But, all will add that regardless if a space is found or not, they will continue to attend the festival and whether on screen or off, support this unique pageant which shows interesting, provocative and eclectic films by lesbians all over the world.

This Year's Films included five features, one of which was Donna Deitch's celebrated 'Desert Hearts' from the 1980's (USA). The 1999 Cineffable themes included transgender fiction and documentation, racism,incest,ballads on poetry and violence , the Barbie doll renaissance and sexual exile.It is quite evident that the work shown in Paris is representative of the visible global lesbian culture and as such is an organic document of the state of lesbian art and politics.

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