Seeking “to hear voices from all members of the LGBT Community and allies,” at the end of June – Pride Month – the Louisiana LGBT Film Festival will launch on Broad St. at the LGBT Community Center on June 28th. Showcasing films from across the LGBTQIA spectrum, from students to amateurs to professionals, the fest will honor the ongoing struggle for human rights everywhere.
I reached out to the festival organizers to chat about the timing of the event, inspirational films, and more. Be sure to follow along on Facebook here:
Bill Arceneaux: It’s Pride Month in 2019. Why is now a good time for a Louisiana LGBT Film Festival?
LA LGBT Film Fest: This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, which was a pivotal moment in the LGBTQ rights movement, in addition to American history. In the current political climate, in the US and around the world, our film festival seeks to see the world through the lens of LGBTQ community members from around the world. Our purpose is to show solidarity, and to let others know that they are not alone.
BA: Your event is billed as a “first of its kind in the state”, though we have had a few other gay spotlight film fests (like the North Louisiana Gay & Lesbian Film Festival). What differentiates this one from the others and what do you hope it will bring about for the first time?
LA LGBT Film Fest: We are the first one in New Orleans, for certain, however, what I feel differentiates our event, is the inclusion of the trans, gender fluid, non-binary community, and filmmakers. In addition, our festival is being held at the LGBT Community Center and a portion of the proceeds are going to the community center as well as another project to benefit LGBTQ filmmakers coming soon! Many of our founding members are advocates as well as work within the film industry. We love the idea of helping others reach their dreams.
In addition, one of the core reasons we were inspired to create this festival was to honor our friend, filmmaker Chloe Deloach-Davis, who was a member of the trans community. She was bullied and assaulted. She died one year ago. We never want anyone to feel like their voice is unimportant. We want the LGBTQIA community to know that “seeing the world through your eyes is important, you are not fighting alone.”
Editor’s Note: This isn’t the first time an LGBTQ+ film festival has taken place in New Orleans. Reel Identities was an LGBTQ film festival that happened in New Orleans over a 4-5 year time span both before and after Katrina. It showed films both feature-length and short from trans, bi, lesbian, and gay directors. They used venues like the old Southern Rep theater in Canal Place and the CAC, and had corporate sponsors like Cox Communications and Harrah’s in the latter years. They accepted submissions from all over the country and globe.
BA: How has the submission process been like thus far and what do you specifically look for in a movie that’ll screen at the event?
LA LGBT Film Fest: We have been incredibly grateful for all of the submissions coming in worldwide. To have the ability and capability to offer such a platform for others is so meaningful. We are a team of individuals, with varying backgrounds and the criteria is different for each of us, but we all work together to create a consensus-based environment so everyone is heard.
BA: For your first year, you’ve chosen The LGBT Community Center of New Orleans as the venue. Was this strategic to cultivate a safe viewing and learning experience for audiences? If you could pick a local theater to bring the fest to next time, which would you choose and why?
LA LGBT Film Fest: The LGBT Community Center was at one time located in the French Quarter, and during that time, some of our team members built an alliance and deep appreciation for the space and those who ran it. They have been a haven for not just those within the LGBT community, but the environmental movement, prison reform advocacy, housing rights, and homelessness awareness just to start. To us, there was no question where we wanted this event to be!
BA: What film, classic or contemporary, represents exactly the mission statement of your festival and why?
LA LGBT Film Fest: There are two films that stand out to me: The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson and Paris is Burning. They are passionate in their storytelling and have a deep purpose in their creation. In addition, I just have to mention how deeply inspired we are by all of the creative, talented filmmakers who have submitted to the festival. Each one of the producers, directors, actors and film professionals embody the mission statement of this film festival and where we will be going in the future.
Bill Arceneaux has been an independent writer and film critic in the New Orleans area since 2011, working with outlets like Film Threat, DIG Baton Rouge, Crosstown Conversations, and Occupy. He is a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association and is Rotten Tomatoes approved. Follow him on Twitter: @billreviews