Although the Velvet Revolution has brought huge social changes, the gay and lesbian community in the Czech Republic still has a low profile. The Mezipatra film festival recently ended in Prague and is one of the most significant events celebrating gay and lesbian culture. In addition to films screened this year, there were also theatre performances, literary readings, photography and painting exhibitions and two festival parties. The first festival was held in 2000 and drew eight hundred viewers. Since then the popularity of the festival has exploded, drawing a crowd of seven and a half thousand people this year. Ales Rumpel is the festival's programmer and spoke about the festival's popularity.
I suppose there was a gap that we filled. As we have become more experienced in organizing such an event, we can put on a bigger event that can attract a bigger audience just because it is larger. But I think the hunger was originally there and we have just filled a void that has not been filled.
What are some of the highlights at the festival this year?
I think it's the international guests we have. Each year we manage to bring people from different countries who then meet with the audiences and the audiences can ask questions. We try to connect the festival with academia so this year we had two discussions with university students, both in Brno and in Prague. I think that is something that people don't usually get to see at other similar festivals.
What do you see as being the major issues that the gay and lesbian community still faces in the Czech Republic?
Well the community is still quite invisible, this festival is the largest visible gay and lesbian event. There are no pride or St-Christopher celebrations so the mainstream population does not really get to see gay and lesbian couples, gay and lesbian people out in the streets. Invisibility is a big issue. Media is very open, politicians are semi-open but we don't know about the general population because there is no interaction or confrontation or whatever you decided to call it, so I would say invisibility.
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