Monday, September 4, 2017

Reverend's Preview: Qfilms Brings Our Community Together

Now in its 24th year, Long Beach's QFilm Festival has grown to become one of the seaside city's preeminent social events.  It has also come to be regarded as the greater LA area's second-biggest exclusive showcase for LGBTQ movies, after Outfest.

The 2017 Long Beach QFilm Festival — often referred to as Qfilms for short — will take place September 7th-10th.  The historic Art Theatre located at 2025 East 4th Street will present all screenings, while the neighboring LGBTQ Center of Long Beach will host receptions and other festive gatherings throughout the weekend.  Both are located on Long Beach’s renowned “Retro Row” consisting of antique and vintage shops in addition to unique eateries and wine bars.

Long Beach’s longest-running film festival since 1993, the QFilm Festival annually presents narrative features, documentaries and short films that embody the rich diversity and experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people.  More than 1,500 attendees gather to savor a mix of West Coast, California and local premieres as well some of the most acclaimed features on the current film festival circuit.  Numerous filmmakers and cast members of the films to be shown will be present for audience discussions after many screenings.  Other festival events include nightly parties, a Saturday afternoon ice cream social, and a Drag Brunch on Sunday, September 10th.

This year's Qfilms will open the evening of Thursday, September 7th with the Long Beach premiere of The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin, a new and acclaimed documentary about the longtime activist and author of the popular Tales of the City book series.  All fans of Maupin's writing will find this film inspiring.  The screening will be preceded and followed by an Opening Night party for all pass- and ticket-holders at the LGBTQ Center of Long Beach, located directly next door.

Two feature films will have their local premieres the night of Friday, September 8th.  The Feels is a hilarious yet heartfelt comedy about a woman who has never had an orgasm but receives unexpected help from her girlfriends during a lesbian bachelorette party. Cast member Ever Mainard won a Grand Jury Award for Outstanding Actress at July’s Outfest film festival.  The Feels will be followed by Something Like Summer, a romantic drama with musical interludes that explores the relationship between two gay friends over a decade.  It is based on the bestselling young adult novel.  A festive party for all attendees will take place at the Center between Friday night's screenings.

A number of great narrative and documentary features will screen on Saturday, September 9th.  They include The Lavender Scare (Los Angeles premiere), a revealing documentary about the persecution of LGBT employees of the US government during the Cold War; A Million Happy Nows (Long Beach premiere), in which a longtime lesbian couple confronts the challenge of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease; Extra-Terrestrials (Los Angeles premiere), a story about family secrets and the first feature film by award-winning Puerto Rican writer-director Carla Cavina; and Sebastian (California premiere), an enjoyable gay romance co-starring Katya from RuPaul’s Drag Race that results when a man falls for his boyfriend’s visiting cousin.

On Sunday, September 10th, the award-winning Saturday Church will have its Long Beach premiere.  This charmer is about a young queer boy experimenting with his sexuality and gender identity who finds refuge in an unusual church.  Additional Sunday features are Signature Move (Long Beach premiere), in which a Pakistani-Muslim woman and a Mexican-American woman discover romance, and Alaska is a Drag (official Los Angeles premiere), a delightful expansion of Shaz Bennett’s award-winning short film about an aspiring drag superstar stuck working in an Alaskan fish cannery.  A Closing Night party will be celebrated on Sunday starting at 5:30 pm.

QFilms 2017 will also boast four spectacular short film programs between Saturday and Sunday: Men in Briefs, Women in Shorts, Queer & Trans Shorts, and the festival's first ever Latinx Shorts Spotlight.  Jury and Audience awards will be given to worthy films in several categories.  All net proceeds from the festival will benefit the non-profit LGBTQ Center of Long Beach and its important community outreach programs.  Sponsors of the 2017 QFilm Festival include Here Media, the Arts Council for Long Beach, Anderson Real Estate Group, California State University Long Beach, Regal Medical Group and the Port of Long Beach.

Discounted full-festival and 5-film passes as well as individual screening tickets are now available for purchase at the Qfilms website.

Review by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film and stage critic of Movie Dearest and Rage Monthly Magazine.