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Merle Groneweg on XPOSED film festival and the complexities of queer life

Merle Groneweg, festival director of XPOSED Queer Film Festival, talks about the power of queer film.

“YEN” Director: ©Julia Feige

Merle Groneweg has been the festival director of XPOSED queer film festival, which highlights films made by queer directors and about queer themes, since 2022. We talk to them about the event’s roots and goals and what to expect this year.

When did the festival start?

Photo: Vincent Wechselberger

The festival was founded in 2006 by Bartholomew Sammut and began as an experimental queer short film night at SchwuZ. Over the past 17 years, it has evolved into a four-day festival that, this year, showcases 114 feature-length films and 44 short films from all over the world.

Why is Berlin the best location for XPOSED?

Berlin is home to a vibrant and politically left queer community that is dedicated to liberation. We are embedded in this community, despite gentrification and oppression making it difficult for many of us to live here.

What was the inspiration?

At the heart of XPOSED lies the desire to show queer films that challenge and move us, that bring us together as a community, but also question some of our beliefs. That’s why the festival has always been committed to marginalised identities and forms of filmmaking that go beyond mainstream LGBT narratives.

XPOSED Queer Fim Festival 2022. Photo: ©StanleyReagh

What makes it important?

The festival enables queer cinephiles to watch and discuss films together – films that often cannot be found at other festivals or online. By holding space for reflection and discussion, XPOSED invites the queer community to connect.

The curated short film programmes are at the heart of the festival: by delicately weaving the stories together, linking one tender documentary with another stark narrative, the shorts show the complexities of queer lives. And with the Queer Short Film Fund, XPOSED directly supports queer filmmakers to realise their projects.

“Les Filles Destinées”. Director: © Basile Darroze

What are some highlights of this year’s edition?

The opening feature film Anhell69 by Theo Montoya is a fascinating experimental documentary that brings us to the queer community in Medellín, Colombia. Death, drugs and darkness are part of the picture, as are light, community and incredible imagery.

Apart from recent Berlinale and Sundance highlights such as Kokomo City by D. Smith, All the Colours of the World Are Between Black and White by Babatunde Apalowo and MUTT by Vuk Lungulov-Klotz, this year XPOSED also shows queer classics such as Outcasts by Yu Kan-Ping (Taiwan, 1986), Damned If You Don’t by Su Friedrich (US, 1987) and Dakan by Mohamed Camara (Guinea, 1997).