T he Scottish Queer International Film Festival (SQIFF) is back with a bang. Kicking off in December, only LGBTQ+ i lm festival aims to get as many people to see queer cinema as possible through unique initiatives such as a sliding-scale ticket price (the festival encourages people to pay what they can instead of having a i xed ticket price) and travel funds.

the Universe

A Deal with This will be SQIFF’s fourth year and, if the events announced so far are anything to go by, it’ll be one of the festival’s most exciting programmes yet. Dykes, Camera, Action! + BOOM BUST: Feminist Filmmakers Blowing Up the Canon in which different feminist i lmmakers, such as Desiree Akhavan and Barbara Hammer, share their stories, White Rabbit, the closing night i lm, and the Scottish premiere of A Deal with the Universe are some of the highlights announced so far. is an autobiographical i lm about director Jason Barker’s journey to becoming pregnant. Composed of home footage shot by the i lmmaker, intimate exploration of parenthood and being pregnant and transgender. Barker explains that the i lm came from a desire to document his unique experience. ‘One thing about queer history and about LGBT lives is it can move very fast. Things change quickly, legally and culturally, and in a way, we’re not good archivists. People don’t keep a record. I suppose that was the thing about having a video camera, I was documenting with a i lm in mind.’

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It’s been 15 years since Barker and his partner, Tracey, embarked on their journey to become pregnant, so why a i lm now? ‘I was thinking about it around seven years ago when the baby was born, when I was looking at the footage,’ says Barker. ‘I was at the Berlin Film Festival and while I was 54 THE LIST 1 Nov 2018–31 Jan 2019

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there, one of the tabloid newspapers in the UK had issued a bounty offering cash for information about the i rst pregnant man. I don’t know if it was referring to me but there was that fear and there were quite a lot of newspaper reports saying disparaging things. When you’ve just had a baby, you feel very vulnerable. You’re exhausted and you don’t know if you’re doing a good job so the idea of having any attention from anyone at that point, I didn’t want it in my life. It took a while.’ It wasn’t until Barker’s child was six that the thought of a i lm came back. Barker hooked up with a producer and editor, and began the daunting process of turning home videos into a feature-length i lm. Barker worked with Raising Film, an organisation that supports i lmmakers who are parents, founded by Scottish-based i lmmaker Hope Dickson Leach. ‘We got the i rst stamp from Raising Film that this i lm was made in school hours,” says Barker proudly. ‘Within the i lm industry, there’s a macho culture of working through the night. We’re both parents and had to work normal hours because we have families. We can’t ignore our children to make a i lm about how they came into the world!’

A Deal with the Universe is the perfect i lm to have its Scottish premiere at SQIFF because it embodies the festival’s values. It’s heartfelt, home-grown and deeply personal, yet it also has an emphasis on universality. ‘The i lm is all about coming to terms with your body,’ says Barker. ‘I’m really interested in that and how we can i nd peace with ourselves. I think with trans people that can be particularly poignant but I think it’s also universal. It’s what we’re all dealing with in life.’

SQIFF, various venues, Glasgow, Wed 5–Sun 9 Dec.