Art can connect people of any sex, sexual orientation and gender identity — anywhere.

Vom 22.–25. März 2019 findet zum zweiten Mal das „Mawjoudin Queer Film Festival“ in Tunesien statt.  “Mawjoudin – We Exist” (wir existieren) ist eine tunesische LSBTI-Organisation, die sich Anfang 2015 gegründet hat, um für die Rechte von queeren Menschen in Tunesien zu kämpfen. Die Hirschfeld-Eddy-Stiftung, die Menschenrechtsstiftung des LSVD, unterstützt das Festival auch 2019 wieder. Guido Schäfer arbeitet ehrenamtlich für unsere Stiftung. Wir dokumentieren sein Grußwort zur Eröffnung.

Dear Members and Friends of Mawjoudin,
Dear Guest,

I am Guido Schäfer and I work for the Hirschfeld-Eddy-Foundation, which is a Human Rights Organization in Germany.

I work and volunteer for Human Rights for LGBTIQ people as I had my own coming out in the 1990s. At that time acceptance of gay people in Germany was still in a difficult phase and I have seen the damage that intolerance can do.

Many things have improved in Germany and globally in the meantime, but I believe that increasing tolerance and acceptance will always be worth working for — anywhere on this planet.

Back in 2007, the Hirschfeld-Eddy-Foundation was created by the Lesbian and Gay Federation of Germany. Our Foundation focuses on international networking and becoming a true partner through co-operations with LGBTIQ organizations in Eastern Europe and the Global South.

We concentrate on influencing those who are responsible for Foreign Policies in Human Rights. We support advocates of Human Rights and promote campaigns against persecution, and trans- and homophobia.

Last January, I was here for the very 1st Mawjoudin Queer Film Festival and I am really thrilled to be back in Tunisia for this 2nd edition!

The 1st Festival was such a fantastic success, that we all agreed that we have to make a 2nd Festival possible.

And this 2nd Festival is only possible, because of all of you! So many people came last year – so many more than we had expected.

The movies and discussions were amazing and all took place in a wonderfully peaceful atmosphere — but at the same time an atmosphere which was vibrant, energetic and made us feel so very alive! … Not to forget the party at Yuka with so many people dancing, having fun — being happy being together!

So, I would like to thank you all for coming today, for coming again, for enjoying diversity and supporting queer culture.

And I would like to thank the team of Mawjoudin. All the wonderful team members worked tremendously hard over the last 8 months – especially, the brilliant, Cyrine Hammami.

Cyrine and the people supporting her invested a huge amount of their time and energy in this project – being creative and making this an extraordinary project in so many different ways.

Last year, I spoke about Art as an important tool for changing culture. Why? For me, Art has the power to create understanding and passion. Art can connect people of any sex, sexual orientation and gender identity — anywhere.

But I believe Art can only fulfil these expectations when we use it in the right way, in a positive way.

We need communication to allow Art to live. Exchanging ideas, thoughts, feelings, exchanging our hopes and also our fears with each other. I think this is the key. To talk and to listen.

To talk and to listen to people who think the same, but also to people who think differently. To talk and listen to people from within the community and to people from outside the community. This is not always easy.

Especially in this world of populism where black and white seem to be the main colours and simple answers suggest to be the “best” answers. Where some countries are turning backwards and where in some countries the space for the queer community is under attack or sadly — shrinking.

Even when considering the positive achievements in Tunisia over the last four or five years. There is still a long way to go. And nothing is certain for sure — yet.

For me this queer film festival is a lighthouse project. It is a signal and symbol of change, a symbol for freedom. Change and freedom for the queer community of Tunisia and not only for Tunisia, but for this entire region

This festival will offer an even bigger mix of events and a huge variety of creative performances — I am really excited to be here and see it all!

I want to celebrate this 2nd Mawjoudin Queer Film Festival with all of you. I want to talk and to listen. I want to peacefully enjoy Art together and make this another successful festival and let’s all have a great party at the same time!

Thank you!  

Enjoy the 2nd Mawjoudin Queer Film Festival!

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