official section:
Institut Francès, Barcelona

The graphic image of the 2017 edition of the FIRE!! Film Festival says it clearly and angrily: faced by the obscurantism that has seen the LGBT community martyred for centuries and is still allowed to continue in a shocking number of countries, there is no choice but to fight. To fight to change social views and laws and to prevent hangings and burnings at the stake. From Africa to Asia, not forgetting the Middle East, 73 countries today punish homosexuality, 10 of them with the death penalty. In 2008, 57 countries in that sinister arc of torture reaffirmed their crazed position by signing a declaration against LGBT rights, taking yet another step towards homophobic terror.

This struggle against the most rabid homophobic and transphobic obscurantism crosses borders from the countries where this martyrdom is imposed. Because other types of obscurantism threaten us here, in our supposedly civilised environment, where right-wing extremists are casting an ever-longer and more horrendous shadow. Slowly but surely, almost by stealth, the most absurd opinions are carving out a presence for themselves on the social networks, grotesque voices that deny climate change, defend creationism, call for impregnable walls to be built between countries and give free rein to the most blinkered heteropatriarchy, systematically reversing all progress towards gender equality.

Certain extraordinary minds are combatting this spreading obscurantism, defining themselves as human beings and encouraging us to do the same. An example is the remarkable sociologist Irène Théry, engaged in a crusade against the abysmal ignorance of French ultra-conservative factions, gripped by an archaic vision of love and marriage. Another is Thérèse Clerc, a brilliant feminist activist involved in the struggle for the right to abortion and to live freely as a lesbian. Then there is Chavela Vargas, who sang about her lesbianism and her love from freedom, like Thérèse, to her very last breath. And Jewel Thais Williams, who fought for 40 years to provide a tiny island of freedom for the black lesbian community of Los Angeles. And Armistead Maupin, author of one of the most brilliant works in universal LGBT literature, leading the struggle against conservative homophobic intolerance. Nor can we fail to remember Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Riviera, courageous transgender activists who played a key role in the Stonewall riots and in the birth of the modern LGBT rights movement.

Antoine Leonetti, Co-director of Mostra FIRE!!