My essay on LGBTQ cinema, “A Place to Exist: Breaking Out of the Celluloid Closet,” is now live at The Philadelphia Review of Books!
Below is more information/links to the LGBTQ film festivals I mention in the piece:
The Reel It UP LGBT Film Festival (June, Urbana-Champaign) is organized by The Up Center of Champaign, a local LGBTQ advocacy group, and shown at the local independent theatre, The Art. The Art already does an excellent job of showing a variety of films from documentaries to comedies to dramas. Hosting the Reel It UP Film Festival not only increases the visibility of these films, but it also dedicates a space to LGBTQ stories in a theater that draws people from all different parts of the Urbana-Champaign community.
The Indianapolis LGBT Film Festival (November 8-10) is held at the Indianapolis Museum of Art right in the heart of the city. It is not hidden away in some out of the way location. It’s a signal that it is providing a significant and easily accessible space for all to enjoy these films. The films already announced for this year’s festival range from a documentary about the legendary Divine, the horror movie spoof, Chastity Bites, as well as G.B.F., which pokes fun at the gay best friend stereotype, and James Franco’s Interior. Leather Bar. This film inspired by the rumor of 40 minutes of explicit material deleted from Cruising, a 1980 thriller about a serial killer targeting gay men in New York City. While a review from Variety says the movie is more of a stunt than a serious examination of homophobia in movies and how the culture has changed since Cruising was released, it’s interesting that a mainstream star like James Franco would even attempt such a feat. If more actors with mainstream followers were to explore such topics, it’s possible Hollywood will believe the audience will follow, giving a greater chance to LGBTQ themes and positive depictions being incorporated into bigger budget films.
The Reeling 2013: The 31st Chicago LGBT International Film Festival, (November 7-14) as the name suggests, is focused on international films. The 2011 festival showcased films from countries such as Brazil, South Africa, and India. The expansion from US only films to global locales only further reinforces how varied, yet universal, LGBTQ stories can be.
The Milwaukee LGBT Film/Video Festival, (October 17-20) organized by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Film Department, has in previous years, put an emphasis on films of the LGBTQ experience in a mix of different cultures. The representation of cultural diversity is just as important in LGBTQ films as it would be for any other.
There are some interesting looking films playing at these festivals, so hopefully you’ll have a chance to check them out.