LB QFILM FEST EXTENDS A LOCAL TRADITION AND A MOVIEMAKING MOVEMENTBy Dave Wielenga
The 2012 Long Beach QFilm Festival revs up to full speed today at 12:30 p.m., setting off on a 12-hour trip that will take all modes of cinematic travel—narrative features, documentaries, short films—all over the map of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community. To see the itinerary [CLICK HERE].
Although it’s been around since 1993, thus qualifying as the oldest film exhibition in Long Beach, the QFilm Festival has only truly found its rhythm over the past few years. It finally feels like a tradition.
“The QFilm Fest is our bona fide, multi-day film festival,” says Logan Crow, executive director of Long Beach Cinematheque, which will debut the Long Beach Film Festival on May 17, 18 and 19 of 2013. “I’ve always admired QFilms, its presentation of films that run the gamut of categories and styles and themes. And it’s exciting to see how it has been expanding lately.”
Whatever its periodic struggles, the QFilm Festival’s founding year of 1993 remains significant, corresponding with an era of profound change in the making of movies about and by people of the LGBTQ communities—the New Queer Cinema movement.
“For a long time before then, film depictions of life in among LGBTQ people were nearly always tragic,” says Porter Gilberg, whose duties as administrative director of The Center include oversight of every aspect of the QFilm Festival—from selecting its films to printing its tickets to planning its parties. “They almost always were lonely or despondent or going through breakups or dying. Nobody went to see a gay film expecting a happy ending.”
Approximately 25 years ago, the scripts of gay flicks began to flip.
“People began making films that depicted people and situations from across the complete spectrum of LGBTQ experience, as well as a wider range of moviemaking styles, said Gilberg. “We started to see films about … oh … gays out for revenge … or … gays in romantic comedies. The idea that a romantic comedy—something that formulaic—could be revolutionary is strange, I know. But it was.”
The films tended to be more sophisticated, often politically minded. Characters were complex, displaying flaws and idiosyncrasies. Stories were more sophisticated.
Although New Queer Cinema is called a “movement,” the advances it made were not organized or made in collaboration. It was created by individual filmmakers, working very separately but at the very same time, one movie after another.
Eventually, people began to notice this trend, and critic B. Ruby Rich is credited with coming up with the name. In other words, New Queer Cinema was not founded—it was discovered.
[NOTE: GreaterLongBeach.com is a media sponsor of the 2012 QFilm Festival.]