Why not?

QFEST is not a reaction; it’s not a statement; it’s not guided by political goals or a desire to be opportunistic. But it is socially significant. QFEST is a recognition of the entire community, from those of us who define ourselves by various letters (L,G,B,T or Q) to those who don’t because we can’t be defined so easily.

Film has an incredible power of telling a story that words alone cannot; of bringing together people of different backgrounds, creeds, beliefs and viewpoints, and giving them an opportunity to find similarities.

So, why QFEST? Why 10 films spanning 6 days? Why panel discussions following many of them? Because it’s time – time to build community engagement through vivid stories and, simply fun, lot’s of gay fun.

What Movies?

Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Invited to perform at a casino in remote Alice Springs, Australia, drag queens Mitzi and Felicia, and transsexual Bernadette hit the road in a broken-down lavender bus named Priscilla in this campy comedy classic. Along the way, the friends change into their most outrageous costumes and lip-sync disco tunes – as well as plenty of Abba – for the outback’s befuddled locals. There was even a pre-show performance by the Capital Pride Singers.

Bullied. Regional Premiere! -with showings of student films and a special panel discussion on bullying identification and prevention by the Pride Center of the Capital Region with representatives from New York State Union of Teachers.

Narrated by Jane Lynch, Bullied is a documentary film that chronicles one student’s ordeal at the hands of anti-gay bullies and offers an inspiring message of hope to those fighting harassment today.

Everyday, thousands of gay and lesbian students are verbally and physically harassed in schools. Jamie Nabozny was tormented by classmates for years. He eventually fought back – not with his fists, but in a courtroom.

The regional premiere of March On begins and ends with 2009 National Equality March. The real story centers around the five featured families.

Why did they take time off work, spend money and travel to Washington DC? What were their hopes and how did it change their lives?

March On offers the stories of two moms who made a road trip to states where there is marriage equality and started a website~ AreWeMarried.Com, a married lesbian couple from California who are one of the 18,000 allowed to marry before Prop 8, a New York gay couple who have been together 32 years and wrestled with religious bigotry, a man who served in the Navy for 5 years and was dismissed under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and a life long activist who has traveled this road for over 40 years.

You will see Lady Gaga, Lt. Dan Choi, Michelle Clunie, Cleve Jones, Staceyann Chin and Cynthia Nixon. You will see the queer youth who led the march, visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and sit on the grass in front of Congress but, more importantly, you will meet people who are courageous and inspiring, who came to Washington DC, October 11, 2009 to demonstrate that they believe in Equality.

Their stories are the reason we march. March On.

A Jihad for Love. A documentary on gay, lesbian, and transgender Muslims across the Muslim and Western worlds.

Fourteen centuries after the revelation of the holy Qur’an to the Prophet Muhammad, Islam today is the world’s second largest and fastest growing religion. Muslim gay filmmaker Parvez Sharma travels the many worlds of this dynamic faith, discovering the stories of its most unlikely storytellers: lesbian and gay Muslims.

Produced by Sandi DuBowski (Trembling Before G-d) and Sharma, A Jihad for Love was filmed in 12 countries and 9 languages and comes from the heart of Islam. Looking beyond a hostile and war-torn present, it reclaims the Islamic concept of a greater Jihad, whose true meaning is akin to ‘an inner struggle’ or ‘to strive in the path of God’ – allowing its remarkable subjects to move beyond the narrow concept of Jihad as holy war.

Howl. Composed from court records, interviews, and Howl by Allen Ginsberg. Animation inspired by Illuminated Poems by Allen Ginsberg and Eric Drooker.

James Franco stars as the young Allen Ginsberg—poet, counter-culture adventurer, and chronicler of the Beat Generation. In his famously confessional, leave-nothing-out style, Ginsberg recounts the road trips, love affairs, and search for personal liberation that led to the most timeless and electrifying work of his career: the poem Howl.

Meanwhile, in a San Francisco courtroom, Howl is on trial. Prosecutor Ralph McIntosh (David Strathairn) sets out to prove that the book should be banned, while suave defense attorney Jake Ehrlich (Jon Hamm) argues fervently for freedom of speech and creative expression. The proceedings veer from the comically absurd to the passionate as a host of unusual witnesses (Jeff Daniels, Mary-Louise Parker, Treat Williams, Alessandro Nivola) pit generation against generation and art against fear in front of conservative Judge Clayton Horn (Bob Balaban).

Howl is simultaneously a portrait of a renegade artist breaking down barriers to find love and redemption, and an imaginative ride through a prophetic masterpiece that rocked a generation and was heard around the world.

A Marine Story. Regional Premiere!  A decorated Marine officer unexpectedly returns home from the war and is quickly recruited to help a troubled teen prepare for boot camp, but when the true reasons for her return become known it threatens the future for both of them.

A Marine Story highlights the absurdity of the military ban on gays through the personal story of one courageous woman.

Written and directed by Ned Farr, the film stars Dreya Weber and Paris P. Pickard.

Hannah Free. Hannah and Rachel grew up as little girls in the same small Midwest town, where traditional gender expectations eventually challenge their deep love for one another. Hannah becomes an adventurous, unapologetic lesbian and Rachel a strong but quiet homemaker. Weaving back and forth between past and present, the film reveals how the women maintained their love affair despite a marriage, a world war, infidelities and family denial.

Based on Chicago Playwright Claudia Allen’s play, Hannah Free was directed by Wendy Jo Carlton and stars the multi-award winning actress Sharon Gless, Maureen Gallagher, Kelli Strickland and Ann Hagemann.

Out in the Silence. Regional Premiere!  Out in the Silence captures the remarkable chain of events that unfold when the announcement of filmmaker Joe Wilson’s wedding to another man ignites a firestorm of controversy in his small Pennsylvania hometown.

Drawn back by a plea for help from the mother of a gay teen being tormented at school, Wilson’s journey dramatically illustrates the universal challenges of being an outsider in a conservative environment and the transformation that is possible when those who have long been constrained by a traditional code of silence summon the courage to break it.

Out in the Silence is more than a movie, it’s part of the movement for fairness, equality and human rights for GLBT people.

Undertow (Contracorriente). Regional Premiere!  Miguel is a handsome, young and beloved fisherman in Cabo Blanco, a small fishing village in the Northern coast of Peru, where the community has deep-rooted religious traditions. Miguel is married to the beautiful Mariela, who is 7-months pregnant with their firstborn, but Miguel harbors a scandalous secret: he is having a love affair with another man, Santiago, a painter who is ostracized by the townsfolk for being agnostic and open about his sexuality.

When Santiago drowns accidentally in theocean’sstrong undertow, he cannot pass peacefully to the other side. He returns after his death to ask Miguel to look for his body and bury it according to the rituals of the town. Miguel must choose between sentencing Santiago to eternal torment or doing right by him and, in turn, revealing their relationship to Mariela and the entire village. Miguel is forced to deal with the consequences of his acts and to come to terms with who he really is, even if by doing so he stands the chance of losing the people he loves the most.

With sweeping images of the beautiful Peruvian coastline, Undertow (Contracorriente) is the emotional intersection of contemporary sexuality, confronted by tradition and belief. This sexy and redolent love story is the feature film debut of Javier Fuentes-León and stars Manolo Cardona, Cristian Mercado and Tatiana Astengo.

Beautiful Darling, a documentary film, pays tribute to the short but influential life of an extraordinary person — the actress Candy Darling, born James Slattery in a Long Island suburb in 1944. Drawn to the feminine from childhood, by the mid-Sixties James had become Candy, a gorgeous, blonde actress and well-known downtown New York figure.

Candy’s career took her through the raucous and revolutionary Off-off-Broadway theater scene and into Andy Warhol’s legendary Factory. There she became close to Warhol and starred in two Factory movies that still shock and amuse today: Flesh and Women in Revolt. Candy used her Warhol fame to land further film roles, and her admirer Tennessee Williams cast her in his play Small Craft Warnings. She dreamed of becoming a Hollywood star, but tragically died of lymphoma in the early Seventies, at only twenty-nine.

Candy’s beauty, humor, and early death, the guts it took to live as a woman, the glamorous parties and the famous friends — most of all the strength of will she demonstrated in her remarkable act of self-creation — moved those who knew her in her lifetime and continue to gather fans today. It’s a story of wild, creative times and of audacious people, but one that has a theme inspiring for anyone, anywhere: whatever the obstacles, be true to yourself.

The film uses both current and vintage interviews, excerpts from Candy’s own diaries and letters, as well as vintage footage of Candy and friend