‘Our community really needed this’: 27th QFilm Festival goes fully online

Now in its 27th year of celebrating LGBTQ communities through cinema, the Long Beach QFilm Festival will be held completely online due to the pandemic, organizers announced today. Tickets are now available to watch more than 40 new narrative, documentary and short films to be streamed Sept. 10 through 13, in support of The LGBTQ Center of Long Beach.

“Our film festival is beloved to this community, it’s one of the oldest on the West Coast, so right from the get-go we made a commitment to make this happen,” said festival founder, Robert Cano. “We felt our community really needed this, not just the LGBTQ community, but the Long Beach community, you know, to restore some sense of normalcy.”

Early on during the pandemic, organizers started looking into transitioning the festival to go completely online and just like tackling anything new, especially technology, Cano said it was a challenge.

“But like any challenge, here come the rewards,” he added. “Our film festival will now be broadcast from Long Beach to all over the world, how cool is that?”

Highlights this year include “Gossamer Folds,” produced by and featuring actress Yeardley Smith of The Simpsons—she’s Lisa—a heartwarming story of an unlikely friendship between a young boy and his neighbors, a retired college professor and his transgender daughter, Gossamer; as well as “Breaking Fast,” a love story set in West Hollywood during the holy month of Ramadan.

And then there’s “Tahara,” which IMDB describes as a “queer, coming-of-age drama set in Rochester, NY about an anxious teen girl who is manipulated into a romantic encounter with her best friend during the funeral service of their former Hebrew school classmate.”

Every year, QFilm Fest introduces new categories depending on the films it receives. Queer Activist Shorts is one of two new short film categories for 2020, featuring films that are meant to “inspire the LGBTQ community and its allies in the ongoing fight for rights to live your truth, love whom you want, or serve in the military.”

“With the election coming up this category kind of created itself, it was very timely,” said Cano. “The last couple of years there have been these films with activists just because of what’s going on in the country. Hopefully, it will inspire people to go to the polls and vote.”

Dance like Everyone is Watching, the second new short film category is meant to uplift audiences with the beauty and movements of the art form.

“We were watching those shorts and… we’re dancing to them,” said Cano. “We’re channeling our own Beyonce-ness. We felt we needed a category this year to uplift people’s spirits for obvious reasons.”

Four additional categories include Women, Men, Queer & Trans, as well as Universal, a highlight of the program exhibiting “Welcome to Chechnya” from the director of the Academy Award-nominated “How to Survive A Plague.” The documentary follows a group of activists as they confront the ongoing anti-LGBTQ violence in the Russian republic. “How to Survive a Plague,” a documentary film depicting the AIDS epidemic and how activist groups, ACT UP and TAG fought for change, will be shown in honor of the late LGBTQ playwright and activist Larry Kramer who passed away in May.

“We made lemonade out of lemons this year,” said Andrew Dorado, interim executive director of The LGBTQ Center Long Beach. “COVID-19 was not going to stop The Center from presenting unique queer stories and storytellers while raising funds to serve the community.”

The Center supports more than 25,000 people annually through programs including youth and senior services, counseling, domestic violence support, trans health programs, HIV and STI testing, and more than 20 weekly support groups; many of these are being offered online during the pandemic.

Tickets go on sale Friday, Aug. 21—each film is $10 and an All-Access Pass is $50—and can be purchased at qfilmslongbeach.com. Films will be available to view from 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 10 through 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 13. The festival will award its traditional Jury and Audience prizes to winning films in several categories.

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Asia Morris has been with the Long Beach Post for five years, specializing in coverage of the arts. Her parents gave her the name because they wanted her to be a world traveler and they got their wish. She has obliged by pursuing art, journalism and a second career as a competitive cyclist.
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