Mezipatra 2003, the fourth annual Czech gay and lesbian film festival, started in Brno last week, where it was very well received. The festival kicked off in Prague on Monday and it will run here until next Sunday. We went along to the opening night to assess the local reaction to the event.
I'm standing in the lobby bar of Prague's Kino Aero and the place is absolutely packed. The reason for this is that it's the first night of the Prague leg of this year's Mezipatra Festival - the fourth annual Czech gay and lesbian film festival, which has just finished its first successful week in Brno. If the amount of people here is anything to go by, it looks like the festival's week-long run in Prague will also be a rip-roaring success.
Funnily enough, Kino Aero is both a bar and a cinema situated in the heart of Prague's working-class Zizkov district. As a result, there's a very mixed crowd here tonight, from obvious filmgoers to hardened regulars. Therefore, it's probably a good place to get a broad spectrum of opinion on this festival. So here goes...
Can I ask you if you are gay?
Man 1: "Yes, I am."
OK, and what is it like to be gay in Prague?
"I live in Brno - just like most people who organised the festival. This is a Brno event that is being exported to Prague for a week. As regards your question, I don't know... Czech people might seem tolerant, but many would say that they are actually indifferent. As long as something is not a part of their personal life, then they just don't care. And there's a difference between respect and tolerance and just being indifferent. So when you are trying to be more public and open, you might get weird looks from people. But then Czech people are not violent in any major respect. I personally haven't had any problems being gay and living in Brno."
Are you gay also?
Woman 1: "No I'm bisexual, but I support gays and lesbians. For me it's normal. It's the same as being heterosexual..."
Man 2: "A lot of people think that homosexuals are perverse, and this festival helps these people realise that this is not the case."
Man 3: "I haven't seen a single movie yet. But I am a regular visitor to this cinema. I was more interested in what kind of people would come today than the movie. I'm amazed that I can see skinheads and punks, but I cannot see any problems. I'm surprised that it's going smoothly without any trouble. That's the main feeling I have right now about this festival. Otherwise, I'm just enjoying my beer..."
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