One can think of this month’s Long Beach QFilm Festival as coming at the tail end of the LGBT fest circuit, or one can think of it as kicking off the annual awards-consideration fest circuit along with the concurrent Toronto Film Festival. At any rate, the 21st Long Beach event will take place September 12th-14th at the historic Art Theatre and adjoining LGBTQ Center on 4th Street’s famed “retro row.” Festival passes and individual film tickets can be purchased now at the QFilm website.
The QFilm Fest annually offers a diverse mix of national and regional premieres, films already receiving acclaim at other film festivals and potential award winners. Several movies that will be making their Long Beach premieres have already won awards at Outfest and Berlinale, two of the largest film festivals in the world. These don’t-miss gems are Appropriate Behavior, an NYC-based comedy about the romantic misadventures of a bisexual Iranian-American woman; The Circle, an inspiring docudrama that explores one of the earliest international gay organizations and the enduring love between one of its founding couples; and the documentary short Families Are Forever, depicting a young gay man’s coming out to his Mormon parents. QFilms’ jury could potentially contribute additional awards to these filmmakers’ mantels.
A number of features to be screened in Long Beach have not been seen in California or even the US before. Prominent among these is Happy End?!, a winningly unpredictable comedy-drama from Germany that will be making its US premiere. It is about two women, the young and naïve Lucca and a worldly musician named Val, who cross paths at a hospice home for the terminally ill. They grow close during a perilous road trip they embark together on to honor the last wishes of a recently-deceased patient. The women are aided in their quest by a cute gay dance student who identifies himself as “Germany’s Billy Elliot.” Happy End?! will screen the afternoon of Sunday, September 14th and should not be missed.
Making its Southern California premiere on QFilms’ opening night is a similar crowd-pleaser, My Straight Son. This Venezuelan film, known in its native country as Azul Y No Tan Rosa or Blue and Not So Pink, carefully balances deep emotions (you will want to have tissue handy) and hilarity. Much of the latter is provided by a trans character who longs to be a TV talk show host. Its central story concerns a gay man struggling to bond with his heterosexual teenaged son from a previous relationship with a woman. The film won Spain’s coveted Goya Award for Best Spanish-Language Foreign Film.
Two revealing documentaries will be having their West Coast premieres during the fest. Shunned, screening on Saturday the 13th, examines the challenges faced by gay and trans men in the Philippines as told through personal accounts and musical interludes. Meanwhile, Power Erotic is a no-holds-barred look at the appeal M on M dominance and submission hold for some gay, bi and even straight men. It will screen on Sunday the 14th.
The inclusion of trans characters and subjects is increasing in LGBT films and festivals, and this year’s QFilm Fest is no exception. In addition to My Straight Son and Shunned, trans men and women are prominently featured in Boy Meets Girl, which will be making its Los Angeles area premiere the night of Saturday the 13th, and the documentary Transvisible: Bamby Salcedo’s Story. A festive Sunday brunch for pass and ticket holders will take place on the 14th prior to the 12:30 screening of Transvisible, and all youth under 21 will be admitted to this documentary for free.
Blackbird, the new film by Noah’s Arc creator Patrik-Ian Polk, was shown once in Los Angeles earlier this year but QFilms will serve as this exceptional film’s second Southern California screening on Saturday night. A coming of age tale set in the southern US, it stars Oscar winner Mo’Nique (Precious) and Isaiah Washington (Grey’s Anatomy) as the parents of a young gay black man struggling to accept himself. (See our interview with lead actor Julian Walker next week.)
There is truly something for everyone at this year’s fest, including some films that can’t be seen anywhere else currently. Terrific receptions precede or follow virtually all the screenings as well. All net proceeds from QFilms support the non-profit LGBTQ Center of Long Beach’s numerous, needed programs. Be there and feel like an award winner yourself!
Here is the complete 2014 QFilm Festival schedule. Please note that Q&A talent availability is subject to change.
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 12th
7:00pm - Appropriate Behavior (Long Beach premiere) at the Art Theatre.
8:00pm-10:30pm - Opening Night Party at the Center.
9:15pm - My Straight Son (Southern California premiere) at the Art Theatre preceded by short film No No, Homo.
11:15pm -1:00am- After Party at the Center.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 13th
12:30pm - Letter to Anita at the Art Theatre preceded by short film The L Riders and followed by Q&A with filmmakers and cast members.
1:15pm - "Queer Shorts" Short Films Program at the Center featuring How Do You Know, But I’m a Genderqueer, Jackie, The Falceto Jazz Club, To Sit With Her, Rad Queers: Payasos L.A., Spankin, You’re Dead to Me and Aoi Oni Nekyia. Followed by Q&A with filmmakers and cast members.
2:30pm - Cupcakes (Long Beach premiere) at the Art Theatre preceded by short film If We Took a Holiday and followed by Q&A with If We Took a Holidayy filmmakers and cast members.
3:45pm - Shunned (West Coast premiere) at the Center preceded by short film To Sit With Her
5:00pm - Out in the Night (Long Beach premiere) at the Art Theatre.
5:45pm - "Boys in Briefs" Men’s Short Films Program at the Center featuring Barrio Boy, Spooners, City of the Damned, Foreign Relations, Sex Date, Families Are Forever and Word of the Day. Followed by Q&A with filmmakers and cast members.
7:00pm - Boy Meets Girl (Los Angeles area premiere) at the Art Theatre.
8:00pm-10:30pm - Saturday Night Party at the Center.
9:15pm - Blackbird (Long Beach premiere) at the Art Theatre.
11:20pm -1:00am- After Party at the Center.
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 14th
11:30am-1:00pm - Brunch at the Center (free with festival pass or ticket to Transvisible).
12:30pm - Transvisible: Bamby Salcedo's Story (Long Beach premiere) at the Art Theatre preceded by short film Jackie and followed by Q&A with the filmmakers (Note: All youth under 21 will be admitted to this screening free of charge).
1:30pm - Mama Rainbow (Long Beach premiere) at the Center.
2:45pm - Happy End?! (US premiere) at the Art Theatre.
3:30pm - "Women in Shorts" Women’s Short Films Program at the Center featuring Nancy from Eastside Clover, Lesbian Language Camp, Eyes That Don’t See, Shameless, Through the Window, Chaperones, You’re Dead to Me and Sandrine. Followed by Q&A with filmmakers and cast members.
5:00pm - The Circle (Long Beach premiere) at the Art Theatre.
6:05pm - Power Erotic (West Coast premiere) at the Center.
7:30pm - Tru Love (Los Angeles area premiere) at the Art Theatre.
7:30pm-10:30pm - Closing Night Party at the Center.
UPDATE: See the comments section below for the winners of this year's Long Beach Qfilm Festival.
Review by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and Rage Monthly Magazine.