PYOTR495 5
Blake Mawson, ‘PYOTR495’, 2016. Courtesy of Blake Mawson. An older man in a white vest bends over a younger man holding his face up to him in his hand. There is a blurry background with blue neon lights.


[11:31 Andrw]: Thank the gay gods for SQIFF’s online events, right?

[11:32 Andrw]: When I saw they were uploading regular programmes of shorts, my Netflix deflated brain sighed in grateful relief.

[11:34 Rachel]: I just watched the Gender revealing programme. [1] Sam Berliner’s film ‘Float’ (2015) is visually stunning.

[11:35 Andrw]: STUNNING.

[11:37 Andrw]: Especially cos my tired TV eyes are usually dinging between insidious government broadcasts and Rupaul’s Drag race (for the 12th time). It’s been cool to watch content that extends upon queer critical thinking.

[11:55 Rachel]: Totally. I had seen a few of the films from previous SQIFF events but this was a completely different experience; watching in solitary.

Yet there was still a sense of community viewing through nostalgia. Watching the shorts took me back to the CCA theatre. I found myself trying to recall where I was sitting and who was around me.

[12:07 Rachel]: Also, the programme has clearly been thought through in terms of the parameters of its release, each film brings a unique and sometimes deeply personal voice.

[12:10 Andrw]: Agreed.

[12:10 Rachel]: So let’s delve into it, which of the currently uploaded shorts really resonated with you?

[12:10 Andrw]: I love the Funny Stuff programme.

[12:11 Andrw]: Because so many of the films allowed me to think and laugh at the same time.

[12:11 Rachel]: I can’t get the clone film out of my head: ‘Mymy’ [2].

[12:11 Andrw]: Oh my god I was just about to say that!

[12:11 Andrw]: So topical and poignant. Not wanting to be alone, digital friends, alternate realities – That’s kind of our life right now.

[12:12 Andrw]: I also loved that kinship was central to the film. That element spoke to me the most and I think spoke to the current climate. We’re all trying, if we can, to emulate the bonds we have in person and hold our ties using cyborg/screen versions of real people.

[12:16 Rachel]: I was into that abstract feeling with the glitter faced micro beings. And yes, living alone in isolation, I liked that his cyborg twin came in a box and had to be crafted both by hand and a kind of manual start-up disc. Right now, most social ties are either through a virtual platform or your mail carrier.

[12:18 Andrw]:

[12:20 Rachel]: It’s hard for many of us at the moment with the loss or suspension of work, so not losing our film festivals, and SQIFF taking economic accessibility into consideration is a great comfort.

[12:25 Andrw]: It’s also nice to know that it’s not just us having these chats every couple of days. :)

My My
Anna Helm, ‘Mymy’, 2014. Courtesy of Anna Helm and SQIFF. Description: A person wearing a full Mutant Ninja Turtle costume with an elaborate necklace is walking down an alleyway with houses, brick walls, and cars.


[13:10 Rachel]: Watching the horror shorts now. LOVE these.


[10:31 Rachel]: Dystopian political landscapes, toxic video distortion, gay vampiric werewolf monsters to after parties gone slightly sour … I felt these shorts dug into a lot of the sociological and psychological anxieties that make the genre tick.

[10:34 Rachel]: They’ve satiated my need for something more substantial than the sky horror channel.

[10:57 Rachel]: WatchingPYOTR495’,[3] I thought about texts like Harry M Benshoff’s Monsters in the Closet, though it was refreshing to see classical horror film tropes toyed with and subverted so that the viewer is aligned with, and roots for, the queer monster.

[11:10 Andrw]:

Miss you. I can’t wait till this is over and we can go to an actual event together.

[11:12 Rachel]: Me too.

Yi Ren The Person of Whom I Think 1
Tzuan Wu, ‘Yi-Ren’, 2015. Courtesy of Tzuan Wu and SQIFF. Description: A black background with the naked body of a person in red next to a quarter moon and an extreme close-up of someone’s face in black and white.

[11:20 Andrw]: I think the horror programme is the most thought provoking in the festival. Not just because we’re living in a dystopian bubble, but because it made me think the most about queer bodies in that space. How our new normal inhibits an expression of our body politics publicly.

[11:24 Rachel]: Totally. I also feel though that in a different way some of the films exemplify the merging of the digital technologies and flesh, activating physical responses as the image seduces us. Although unsettling, the tricolour distressed film stock aesthetic of ‘Yi-Ren (the person of whom I think)’ [4] fits into this space for me. Relating directly to our “new normal”.

[11:26 Andrw]: I suppose that’s representative of Sqifflix as a whole. SQIFF can’t currently provide a physical platform for us to immerse ourselves fully in cinematic conversations, but they’ve harnessed existing formats in their commitment to critical, queer thinking. Uniquely, I think the way that they’ve structured the programmes thematically, and delivered on access needs (subtitles, captions) rings true with their “real-life” events. They’ve achieved the SQIFF character despite the limited options they have.

[11:27 Andrw]: Lockdown me is loving it. I can’t wait to see the next programme.

[11:28 Rachel]: I second that. 😊



[14.16 Andrw] Me and Rachel were talking and as well as pointing to LGBT Unity - which SQIFF is raising money for, we also think the post would be a good opportunity to promote and provide links for organisations that are helping Trans communities, especially protesters in the US.

We have identified two:

1. The Okra project - They organise and deliver food, resources and provide support networks for the Black Trans community.

2. G.L.I.T.S. (Gays and Lesbians living in a Transgender society) - They offer accommodation and healthcare support for Transgender Sex workers and are active in the organisation of current Black Trans Lives matter protests. They are also currently fundraising to create a major housing facility for people of Trans experience and Trans sex workers.


[1]Sqifflix: Gender Reving programme was available to view until June 7

[2] ‘Mymy’, Dir: Anna Helme, Country: Australia, Year: 2014. ‘MyMy’ was part of the Sqifflix Funny Stuff programme which ran from April 28 – May 27 2020.

[3] ‘PYOTR495’, Dir: Blake Mawson, Country: Canada, Year: 2016

[4] ‘Yi-Ren (the person of whom I think)’ Dir: Tzuan Wu, Country: Taiwan, Year: 2015


Rachel Sharpe and Andrw Houston are artists, collaborators and life-long friends.


Sqifflix, a new initiative by SQIFF (Scottish Queer International Film Festival), is currently running online. All content is accessible with English subtitles or captions for Deaf and hard of hearing audiences and a list of other access information. Alongside showcasing this work, SQIFF is taking donations for LGBT Unity Scotland, to support LGBTQIA+ refugees, asylum seekers, and other migrants. The most recent programme Sqifflix: Sexual Content Warning a is available to view online from May 26 @ 5:00 pm to June 26 @ 5:00 pm. To watch and donate visit