For the LGBTIQ community in Bosnia and Herzegovina and us as organisers, the end of January and the beginning of February for the last eight years have been marked by Merlinka – Queer Film Festival in BiH. Merlinka has become a valuable public event in Sarajevo and Tuzla, not only for lesbians, gay men, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer people, but also for our supporters and the entire BiH public. While organising the festival, together with you, our LGBTIQ community, the founder of the Festival and supporters, we went through a lot: from (unfortunately) threats, assaults, through the most beautiful, cathartic moments, great fun and joy growing from resistance, all the way to the fight for justice and the visibility of the LGBTIQ subculture in the mainstream of BiH public life.
That is why we are taking the opportunity, in anticipation of February, to inform all of you who were part of our and your Merlinka that we are moving forward and planning a new, local festival. Due to the current epidemiological situation and restrictions related to gatherings, and primarily for our and your safety, Sarajevo and Tuzla editions of the festival will be held in June – the month of pride, and the festival will have a new format, consisting of different events, under a new name and brand. The name itself, as well as the exact date of the festival, will be announced a month before the event. The format and individual events of the new festival will be organised taking into account all the required precautions, measures and provisions of the relevant institutions, following the current situation of the COVID pandemic.
We want to give the LGBTIQ community in Bosnia and Herzegovina a new, local and recognisable experience in the cultural-activist sense, but also in the physical space that has so far been confirmed as one of the most important aspects of the festival. With the new festival, we want to reach as many LGBTIQ people as possible in Bosnia and Herzegovina, provide opportunities and support to local queer artists, activists and creative people, and continue to create a safe space and occupy the existing one in which we can all be what we are.
With the new festival, we are not changing the values and ideas we have cherished since our founding. The Sarajevo Open Centre and the Tuzla Open Centre will continue to promote and support the courage, solidarity, freedom and equality of the LGBTIQ community and other marginalised social groups.
We are looking forward to everything that the new festival brings us, and we hope that we will create new traditions together. See you in June!
Sarajevo Open Centre
Tuzla Open Centre