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FESTIVALS Portugal

Queer Lisboa awards While You Are Here

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Stefan Westerwelle's While You Are Here (Solange du hier bist) won the Best Film Award at the Queer Lisboa – Lisbon Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, whose 11th edition ended last Saturday. The film focuses on the unexpected love that blossoms between an old man and a young prostitute.

The jury decided to honour Westerwelle's graduation work from the Academy of Media Arts Cologne for its "balance between form and content and because the themes of loneliness and the proximity of death – uncommonly treated in film – might open the film to a larger audience, independent of their sexuality".

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Westerwelle came up with the idea of the film years ago, as he was doing his civil service in a home for old people: "It was the first time I was confronted by the idea of death and the realisation that one day I am going to die. I tried to get closer to older and more mature characters than me, which was a tough approach," he said.

While You Are Here, which had already received a Special Mention at the latest Locarno Film Festival, is schedule to open in Germany in October.

The winner of the documentary section was The Railroad All-Stars, a Spanish production shot in Guatemala and directed by Chema Rodríguez.

For the first time since its founding, the Queer Lisboa showcase could not count on the support of the ICAM – an absence the national film board justified by saying it cannot possibly back so many film events.

Supported by the City of Lisbon, the festival nevertheless recorded "a step forward in terms of audiences and dynamics, mainly because it took place in the city centre," festival director João Ferreira told the Lusa Agency. "Our audience is mainly young people, the majority students, but also people who do not belong to the community for which the festival had been initially targeted".

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