QFilms to celebrate 25-year milestone of annual LGBTQ-focused film festival

Growing up in a small town, the only way Porter Gilberg—now the executive director of the LGBTQ Center of Long Beach —could see and relate to other queer-identifying folk was through film. So the significance of being able to present the 25th Long Beach QFilm Festival to audiences in September is not lost on the local community leader.

“Film allows LGBTQ people to tell their stories, and for LGBTQ people to connect to stories and communities in ways that are completely unique,” said Gilberg. “The LGBTQ community is incredibly diverse, especially here in Long Beach, and festivals like QFilms give everyone in attendance the opportunity to not just see themselves reflected on screen, but also others who they may not engage with on a daily basis.”

What started as a two-day festival at Cal State Long Beach has evolved over the past quarter century to become a four-day event with plentiful screenings, parties and experiences, and continues to be one of the most accessible festivals for attendees to engage with filmmakers and actors in the LGBTQ community.

QFilms is—still—the only LGBTQ-focused film festival in Long Beach, Gilberg said.

“We’ve grown in size, scope, and in terms of the diversity of content we screen so that as many LGBTQ people as possible are able to see themselves reflected in our films,” Gilberg said.

Kicking off the festivities a month ahead is a free screening of “Mean Girls” at Alfredo’s Beach Club this Friday, Aug. 10 from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. For more info, check out the Facebook event page here.

QFilms will open at the Art Theatre on Thursday, Sept. 6, with the Long Beach premiere of “The Advocate Celebrates 50 Years: A Long Road to Freedom,” a documentary on the trailblazing LGBTQ publication.

On Friday, Sept. 7, Gilberg said he’s especially looking forward to watching “Wild Nights with Emily” exploring the famous poet Emily Dickinson “brought to vivid lesbian life by the hilarious Molly Shannon,” according to the announcement, followed by a screening of “Mapplethorpe,” honing in on the life of the controversial gay photographer and renowned artist Robert Mapplethorpe.

New to this year’s festival will be a filmmakers lounge—open to all-access pass holders—featuring a history exhibit provided by the June Mazer Lesbian Archives. Sponsored by Trebor/Nevets, a longtime Fourth Street interior design store, “it will be one of the most unique, informative and creative spaces to hang out during QFilms this year,” Gilberg said.

And don’t underestimate the transformative power of the short film, where attendees can watch five to 10 movies in less than two hours. The lineup includes the Finding Home series about LGBTQ asylum seekers, Queer & Trans Shorts, Women in Shorts and Men in Briefs.

Closing night will feature the Long Beach premiere of “Shakedown,” a documentary about an underground club in Los Angeles for queer black women “that’s been going strong since the 1990s,” said Gilberg. “The history of the club, and footage captured, is breathtaking.”

For more information and the entire QFilms lineup, visit the website here.

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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.