Diverse festivals celebrate diverse film, part 2

Michael Goller

On the heels of National Coming Out Week, the 12th annual Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Film Festival opens today at the U Film’s Bell Auditorium and Heights Theater in Minneapolis. Touted as the upper Midwest’s largest queer film festival, the fest features area premieres of the best gay and lesbian films fresh of the U.S. and international festival scene as well as an array of local works.

Kyle Reinhart, University Film Society Program Coordinator and LGBT Film Festival Programmer, has logged many man-hours bringing the festival together, from fund-raising to sponsorship to programming to publicity.

“It’s our second biggest event after the International [Film Fest],” Reinhart says.

With approximately 30 films on this year’s slate, this year’s festival is the largest to date. While the Minneapolis LGBT festival doesn’t quite stack up to the fests in San Francisco and New York, Reinhart says that with the community’s support, sometimes it can feel like it.

“I think we’re similar to the second-tier festivals, like the Rochesters and Washingtons. We’re small in the size of films, but in support we’re right up there.”

Scouting some of these larger fests, such as the San Francisco GLBT Film Fest and The Mix, New York’s experimental film festival, is first-year Programmer Dean Otto, who brings his history and passion for queer cinema to Minneapolis’ scene.

“Growing up gay in southern Wisconsin, I had no sort of model to follow, and I relied on queer cinema to expose me to this culture,” he says.

A new addition to the festival is the screening of both gay and lesbian shorts packages, groups of short films shown in an hour and a half block. According to Reinhart, approximately 15 of the festival’s 30 films are short films, lending a diversity not only in content, but in style of filmmaking.

“We have more shorts than usual, and that’s what I’m excited about, the short packages,” he says.

Among these shorts are three films by local filmmakers. Amanda Taylor, Eleanor Savage and Matthew Stenerson all have films that were chosen to be included in the shorts packages at this year’s festival. Stenerson, who directed the four-minute Hearts Breaking in Slow Motion, is excited to be included on this year’s bill, saying that after being turned down by numerous festivals, it’s great to finally be recognized for his work. In addition, Stenerson’s work was also accepted at this year’s The Mix, to be held in November.

On-campus sponsors for the LGBT Film Festival include the Queer Student Cultural Center and the Q of M. Antonio Cardona, a Student Administrative Assistant for the QSCC says that events like the LGBT Film Festival are ideal for disseminating queer assumptions.

Cardona says that though a large part of society relates being queer merely to sexuality, there is a much broader culture behind the stereotypes and the festival, as well as its programming, is adept at communicating this culture.

“The filmmaking offers up a unique kind of atmosphere with which more people can connect. I saw The Broken Hearts Club at both the theater and at the festival, and at the fest people were laughing out loud and clapping; it’s a lot more participatory. It’s awesome.”