A gay old time

Northwest Film Center presents one-of-a-kind queer documentary festival

The sixth annual Portland Queer Documentary Film Festival will be held this Thursday through Sunday at the McMenamins Kennedy School Theater. The festival will include 11 films that celebrate queer identity and culture while exploring the historical and contemporary challenges of the LGBTQ community.

Northwest Film Center presents one-of-a-kind queer documentary festival

The sixth annual Portland Queer Documentary Film Festival will be held this Thursday through Sunday at the McMenamins Kennedy School Theater. The festival will include 11 films that celebrate queer identity and culture while exploring the historical and contemporary challenges of the LGBTQ community.

Ralf König, one of the most commercialy successful German comic book creators, enjoys being held by his partner in King of Comics.
COURTESY OF NORTHWEST FILM CENTER
Ralf König, one of the most commercialy successful German comic book creators, enjoys being held by his partner in King of Comics.

“There’s a wonderful sense of community that comes from exploring our identity in a context like this,” said David Weissman, co-founder of the festival. “It’s very different from sitting at home and watching a DVD.”

Weissman, a documentary filmmaker, founded the festival with Russ Gage, who was the operations manager of the San Francisco International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival. The Portland Queer Documentary Film Festival is the only queer film festival in the U.S. that focuses entirely on documentaries.

“The subject matter of the documentaries is so compelling,” Weissman said. “It enables us to focus on material that really deals with community, history, politics, queer artists—meatier subject matter.”

The opening night film, titled Wish Me Away (2011), is about Chely Wright, the first major Nashville country-western star to come out as a lesbian. After the film, there will be a Q-and-A with Wright herself. Many of the directors and subjects of the documentaries will be in attendance and will take questions from the audience after the screenings.

The festival’s documentaries will present a wide range of subject matter. Question One (2011) chronicles the gay marriage battles throughout the country, which is particularly pertinent with the recent vote in North Carolina to officially outlaw same-sex marriage. There will also be films about transgendered people, Christian gay conversion facilities, queer celebrities and more.

“I encourage people to look at the list and see what they find appealing but also to go beyond their normal range of interest to get exposed to things that they might not otherwise get to see,” Weissman said.

One major change to the festival this year is the venue: This is the first time the festival will be held at McMenamins Kennedy School.

“The McMenamins have been very supportive of the festival, and we like the fact that there’s food and hangout space there so we can create a sense of community,” Weissman said. “People can come and hang out before and after the movies.”

One of the reasons Weissman and Gage founded the festival is that they had life-altering experiences watching queer films with queer audiences in San Francisco and they want to bring that kind of feeling to Portland.

“There’s a tremendous sense of community connection in learning about our history and the issues that we’re currently facing—finding out how we’ve become who we are now and looking at where we, as queer people, are moving,” Weissman said. “I always find it an incredibly rich experience to watch queer movies with a room full of queers—it’s a really great experience.”

The festival especially encourages younger people to attend. For those under 23 years old, there are a limited number of free tickets available that can be reserved by emailing [email protected]

Thursday, May 17

Opening Night:
Wish Me Away (2011)
Film 7 p.m.; party 9:30 p.m.
Subject Chely Wright in attendance
Film only regular pricing; film and party $25

Friday, May 18

Girl or Boy, My Sex is Not My Gender (2011)
6:45 p.m.
Subject Lynnee Breedlove in attendance

King of Comics (2011)
9 p.m.
21+ screening

Saturday, May 19

The LuLu Sessions (2011)
1:30 p.m.
Director S. Casper Wong in attendance

La Bocca Del Lupo (2009)
4 p.m.

Question One (2009)
6 p.m.
Directors Joe Fox and James Nubile and subject Darlene Huntress in attendance

Jobriath A.D. (2011)
9:30 p.m.
Director Kieran Turner in attendance
21+ screening

Sunday, May 20

This is What Love in Action Looks Like (2010)
11:30 a.m.
Director Morgan Jon Fox inattendance

Difficult Love with Not a Man in Sight (2010)
1:30 p.m.

Love Free or Die (2011)
4 p.m.
Director Macky Alston in attendance

Vito (2011)
7 p.m.
Director Jeffrey Schwarz in attendance