The power and importance of LGBTQ Film Festivals

Have you ever attended an LGBTQ film festival? They were once a rare treat, but lately there are festivals all over the world.

Starting in California in the late 1970’s, in part because mainstream film industry ignored LGBTQ themed movies, film lovers and LGBTQ activists began to organize film festivals. Today there are over 100 LGBTQ film festivals in many parts the world. The USA has over 20 LGBTQ film festivals, and new festivals have recently been inaugurated in Myanmar, China, and Belarus. You can find a partial list of international film festivals here.

After coming out gay when I lived in Memphis, TN and then in Hartford, CT, I saw as many movies as possible at these festivals. Many of these films about transgender, gender non-binary, queer, bisexual, lesbian, and gay characters and issues were almost impossible to see any other way. Even now with all of the options for streaming, some of these movies are rarely seen. To watch them with other LGBTQ people in the same safe space has felt particularly empowering, comforting, and affirming. 

Lately I have been looking closely at the various LGBTQ film festivals as I promote my own film, Transfigurations–Transgressing Gender in the Bible. It has been selected for the San Antonio, TX LGBTQ International Film Festival and is in consideration for a few other festivals (stay tuned!)

In my search of film festivals I was thrilled to learn about the Second Annual LGBTIQ film festival in Uganda. The Queer Kampala International Film Festival will be held December 8-10, 2017. Here is a little of their story:

QUEER KAMPALA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL (QKIFF) is the first queer film festival to be held in Uganda. QUEERKIFF celebrates the diversity of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Intersex and Queer communities by providing spaces where Queer films are screened, discussed and celebrated.

Audience at first ever LGBTIQ film festival in Uganda

For the first time in homophobic Uganda, a festival celebrating and reinforcing the right to be LGBTQI was held. Against all odds, the creative Queer KIFF team laid strategies to beat the stern security and anti homo communities. The inaugural Queer Kampala International Film Festival was held
9th – 11th, December 2016 at different venues in the country’s capital, Kampala.

Measures included security screening of attendees, keeping the venues secret and mobile daily. The attendants had to go to a different venue in the morning and afternoon. Venues were announced within hours to the event. Encouragingly, the LGBTIQ community, supporters and sympathizers hung in there and religiously followed us to the different venues attracting a turn up of 800 visitors with in a space of three days.

We are excited to announce the second edition scheduled for the 8th – 10th, December 2017. We are already accepting film submissions and be sure it will happen as our think tank is laying strategies to mitigate associated risks.
Together, we can end victimization of the LGBTIQ community using social justice film-making, a tested and proven effective tool in changing hearts, minds, and laws!!

The have ambition goals to bring real lasting change to their county and see that film has a role to play.

You can be part of this important history. They need money to put this festival together and they are not going to get it from their government or most businesses. Today in the USA for many (not all) going to an LGBTQ film festival is a pleasant diversion and opportunity to be affirmed and learn. For the audience members in Uganda, this film festival is an practically a fantasy island in the midst of social and legal oppression. Please consider joining me and recent audience members in donating to Uganda’s only LGBIQ film festival, and hopefully the first of many.



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