Stella Malfilatre’s poetic film for LGBT+ Denmark lenses intergenerational queer experiences
Telling authentic queer stories “which are sometimes sad and sometimes happy”, Stella unveils a campaign film made to reflect nuance, multiplicity and balance.
- 23 August 2022
- Liz Gorny
When asked by the director of communication at LGBT+ Denmark to pitch an idea for its 2022 Pride campaign, director and photographer Stella Malfilatre wanted to avoid shooting from an outside perspective – a kind of representation that often appears around Pride. “Often, especially in Denmark you see campaigns that have a bleak feeling or are sort of ‘yaasss’afied,’” Stella tells It’s Nice That. “I am more interested in telling the bits in between and the fact that those two experiences coexist.”
The film, which has recently launched across LGBT+ Denmark’s social channels, is based on the concept of depicting multiple intergenerational experiences within the LGBTQIA+ community. At its core, the film makes space for multiplicity: “As a queer director myself, I really wanted to strike the balance between telling true queer stories, which are sometimes sad and sometimes happy.”
At just under eight minutes, the campaign film begins by introducing us to individuals encompassing a wide range of ages. Tender scenes unfold as Stella captures both younger and older generations discussing personal experiences with intimacy. Originally, Stella explains that the film was going to be structured in a way that would celebrate how elders have paved the way for younger generations. It was only when one of the cast members told Stella she felt “her younger children had paved the way for her” after they came out as non-binary that the film took on its unique, interconnected tone – showing the back and forth between generations. Stella recalls: “It was so beautiful to watch the cast arrive not knowing each other, to leave arm in arm.”
For a film featuring so many moments of vulnerability, creating a safe shooting environment was crucial. “Arriving on a set as a cast member, when you know the concept is vulnerable, can be super uncomfortable,” says Stella. “Especially as someone from the LGBTQIA+ community, it can feel scary to arrive to a set full of the usual cis het male crews who work on campaigns.” Making sure scenes weren’t rushed and forming a personal connection with each cast member in pre-production were all vital in creating a trusting space. “I don’t think I’d be able to make work where there isn’t a natural and trusting vibe between me and the subject,” Stella confirms.
Visually, the Pride film is equally tender and beautiful. As a photographer, Stella explains, “I wanted to be able to press pause anywhere in the film, and the screenshot would make for a beautiful photograph”. Though the film pays close attention to capturing stories as they are, the director has interwoven various visual motifs to underline them. Flowers, in particular, are used to frame the set – a concept that pays direct homage to legendary LGBTQIA+ activist Marsha P Johnson. “I think everyone’s favourite photo of Marsha is the one where she wears a flower crown and a big smile with red lips,” Stella explains. “At most of the LGBTQIA+ protests I’ve been to in London, we have all carried flowers with us, which were raised in the air and left around town.” Within the film, flowers act as “the glue between the cast members”. Plus, Stella adds, “we got the flowers from my local flower shop whose owner is queer, which made it extra lovely.”
Editorial, poetic and kind, Stella’s aim for the film is that the queer community sees it and immediately knows that “this was made with love, not with the usual ‘once a year rainbow’ vibe”. Currently, the film is available to watch on LGBT+ Denmark’s Instagram, though Stella has plans to take it beyond an Instagram launch with a potential future exhibition, book and screenings in places where it is sorely needed, like schools.
GalleryStella Malfilatre: LGBT+ Denmark (Copyright © LGBT+ Denmark, 2022)
Stella Malfilatre: LGBT+ Denmark (Copyright © LGBT+ Denmark, 2022)
About the Author
Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. After graduating in Film from The University of Bristol, she worked freelance, writing for independent publications such as Little White Lies, INDIE magazine and design studio Evermade.