LGBTQ+ looks to widen outreach and create campus and community allies with its third annual “Out on Screen” Film Festival. Screenings will be shown in the Dreyfus University Center throughout March and April.
The event kicked off March 3 with “Reaching for the Moon,” a film set in the 1950s recounting the life of Pulitzer Prize winning poet, Elizabeth Bishop, and her hardships after falling in love with Gloria Pires.
“The main purpose of the festival is to increase visibility and do so in a fashion that is entertaining and will generate interest and be as inclusive as possible,” said Matthew Davis, chair of the Faculty and Staff Gay-Straight Alliance and associate professor of English.
This year marks the first year that there is a plus sign at the end of LGBTQ+. This is something that Maggie Lundgren, public outreach intern, suggested.
“I want people to know that it is not exclusive. It is for everyone, not just those who identify as LGBTQ+,” Lundgren said.
She also addressed people who experience homophobia.
“I think the exposure to both the films and the LGTBQ+ people at the screenings would help ease that hatred. An oft-cited reason for homophobia is the person simply not having known an LGBTQ+ individual; these screenings offer that necessary exposure,” Lundgren said.
This year, the festival consists of ten films, combining a mix of narrative films and documentaries. This year’s festival centers around the coming of age.
These ten films were narrowed down from a list of 80 titles. This selected process was done when Lundgren teamed up with the festival’s curator, Laurie Schmeling, an associate lecturer in the English department.
“We don’t have a mathematical formula. We can’t. A lot of it depends on finances and availability. But we try to make sure it’s not just white and gay men,” Schmeling said.
Lundgren created a rubric she used to help make sure this does not happen. It looks at what was shown at previous festivals, race and age of the characters, and how to represent as much of the LGBTQ+ spectrum as possible.
So far this has been successful. The first year of the festival “Mosquita y Mari” was screened for its first time in the Midwest. Last year, “Facing Mirrors” was shown, the first Iranian film with transgender characters was. This year “Saving Face” is being shown on April 9. This will be its first commercial release as an independent film with Asian American lesbians at the center.
The festival also includes what is now referred to as legacy week when slightly older films are shown.
“It’s a bit of a challenge to get students to watch older films. We obviously haven’t breached black and white territory or anything, but we look for films that were significant when they were released,” Schmeling said.
The unique content and style of each film makes it hard for Schmeling and Lundgren to offer recommendations. However, “Kill Your Darlings” features Daniel Radcliffe, making it appealing to a larger audience.
“Margarita” plays on April 3 and is about a lesbian immigrant who faces deportation. It is one of the less serious films for those that like a little bit of humor. Along those same lines, “G.B.F.” is also lighthearted. This film takes place in a high school setting where the newest trend it to have a gay best friend (G.B.F.).
“It’s like a new version of Mean Girls. If you’re looking for one to go to, go to “G.B.F.,” Lundgren said.
Communication major Jana Schleis attended last week’s showing of “The New Black” and plans on making as many screenings as her schedule allows.
“I really enjoyed the film. It wasn’t what I expected but still very interesting. It shows the importance of understanding people’s different standpoints.”
Along with the wide range of films for every type of interest, the screenings are on different nights to allow them to fit into everyone’s schedule.
“One thing that is exciting to see is the increase in attendance over the years as well as community interest,” Davis said
The remaining screenings include “Valentine Road” on March 25, “Margarita” on April 3, “Kill Your Darlings” on April 4, “All About My Mother” on April 7, “Saving Face” on April 9, and “G.B.F.” on April 14.
Aaron Voeks and Rebecca Vosters
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