Collage of movie posters

What’s queer @ Leiden Internation Film Festival 2020

This year marks the 15th (or is that 14½th?) annual Leiden International Film Festival (LIFF). It takes place from October 29th until November 8th, but things are a little different this year!

LIFF was founded back in 2006 and is now one of the leading film festivals in the Netherlands. The film festival lasts 11 days and shows a wide variety of movies from all over the world, with genres spanning from Arthouse to blockbusters. During the festival all of Leiden is buzzing, with people going back and forth between the two cinemas and other places to enjoy movies and side programmes.

LIFF usually takes place in two of Leiden’s cinemas, Trianon and Kijkhuis. With 2020 being the unusual year that it is, the festival is taking a different approach this year. The festival’s 14½th edition is aptly titled ‘No Half Measures’, and for the first time takes place partly online, partly in the familiar rooms of Trianon and Kijkhuis, and partly in cinemas outside of Leiden. As a fun extra, the online rooms are named after some of Leiden’s old cinemas: Luxor, Camera and Rex.

LIFF is something every film lover who lives in or around Leiden should experience at least once in their lives. To get you started, let’s zoom in on what LIFF offers this year in terms of queer cinema!


Baghdad In My Shadow – ONLINE ONLY

Baghdad in My Shadow is a fictional thriller about a group of Iraqi immigrants living in London: Amal (Ghandour), a wife in hiding, Taufiq (Haitham Ali), an unsuccessful writer, and Muhannad, a gay IT specialist (Waseem Abbas). The three meet regularly in a local cafe, until the author’s radical cousin attacks them and turns all lives upside down.

Check out “Baghdad In My Shadow” online version.

Dating Amber – IN CINEMA AND ONLINE

Set in Ireland during the mid-90s, teenagers Eddie and Amber are in the closet about their sexuality. They decide to stage a relationship in order to stop everyone from speculating. Eddie is keen to follow his Dad into the military, while Amber dreams of moving to the liberal hub of London to open an anarchist bookshop. However, their “ideal” arrangement starts to fall apart, forcing both of them to rethink their lives.

Check out “Dating Amber” cinema version or “Dating Amber” online version.

Lola Vers La Mer – IN CINEMA AND ONLINE

Lola, a young transgender woman, is finally about to get an important operation in her transition process. But then her mother, who financially supports her, dies. After living in a hostel in Brussels for two years, Lola is forced by her mother’s death to meet up with her father again. Although they clash on almost everything, they decide to travel to the Belgian coast in order to scatter her mother’s ashes and thus respect her last wish.

Check out “Lola Vers La Mer” cinema version or “Lola Vers La Mer” online version.

Shiva Baby – IN CINEMA AND ONLINE

In Emma Seligman’s feature length debut we become acquainted with Danielle’s entire Jewish family for one very long day, during which she runs into her secret sugar daddy – as well as her way-too-successful ex-girlfriend after the funeral of a mutual friend. During the film we hardly ever leave the family home where the shiva takes place, and as the plot unfolds, with help of the swelling score, we, together with Danielle, increasingly crave that all-too-familiar excuse to go for a walk around the block.

Check out “Shiva baby” cinema version or “Shiva Baby” online version.

The Surrogate – IN CINEMA AND ONLINE

Jess, a 27-year-old web designer, decides to become a surrogate mother for a befriended gay couple. What first seems like a good decision is turned upside down when Jess, by then twelve weeks pregnant, receives the results of a prenatal test.

Check out “The Surrogate” cinema version or “The Surrogate” online version.

Cowboys – IN CINEMA ONLY

Troy and his young transgender son Joe are on the run from Joe’s conservative mother Sally in the Montana wilderness. They think they can make it to the Canadian border, if they can just manage to keep a low enough profile while they journey north. But an outsider within the local police force, Faith, is in hot pursuit. As Faith discovers more about the case, she finds this supposed kidnapping is more than it seems.

Check out “Cowboys” cinema version.

La Dea Fortuna – IN CINEMA ONLY

Alessandro and Arturo have been together for over fifteen years. There is hardly any passion left in their relationship and they are considering breaking up with each other. One day, their friend Annamaria suddenly arrives at their doorstep with the request to temporarily look after her children. The two children disrupt the couple’s daily lives, but the responsibility also causes an unexpected turn in their lives.

Check out “La Dea Fortuna” cinema version.

No Hard Feelings – IN CINEMA ONLY

Parvis is the son of exiled Iranians who fills his days with Grindr dates and parties. After being caught shoplifting, he is sentenced to community service as an interpreter in an asylum seekers’ center. There, he meets brother and sister Amon and Banafshe who have fled Iran. As Parvis and Amon feel increasingly attracted to each other, tensions in the asylum seekers’ center increase and they are threatened with eviction. In an attempt to build a common future, they soon realize that they are not equal in Germany.

Check out “No Hard Feelings” cinema version.

Supernova – IN CINEMA ONLY

Sam and Tusker, partners of 20 years, are traveling across England in their old RV, visiting friends, family, and places from their past. Since Tusker was diagnosed with early-onset dementia two years ago, their time together is the most important thing they have. As the trip progresses, however, their ideas for the future clash, secrets come out, and their love for each other is tested as never before.

Check out “Supernova” cinema version.


Which movies are you looking forward to watching?

Important note on the situation regarding COVID-19: In this article we have linked to the online screenings of the movies where they are available. LIFF has a page up on their website about their corona measures for screenings at the cinema locations [https://www.liff.nl/en/Tickets/Corona]. At the time of writing this article, they have not yet announced new measures after the press conference of October 13th. Please keep an eye out on their website for any changes or updates!

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