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Unique Gay Film Festivals

Unique Gay Film Festivals

The Reel World: a new kind of circuit party.

?It might seem antithetical to trek halfway across the world to slink into a cozy theater seat, but tell that to Cannes. Gay film festivals, practically mini-Prides, are becoming hot travel tickets, although that?s less because of the big films on tap—most of them repeat between fests—and more for the notable local/regional focuses and hopping social scenes. As movers and industry shakers head to Turin, home to the pilgrimage-worthy Museo Nazionale del Cinema and continental Europe?s largest gay-focused film gathering (Torino GLBT Film Festival, April 28? May 4), and America prepares for its two biggest fests this summer, Outfest in L.A. (July 7?17) and Newfest in New York City (July 21?28), we highlight six other unique options worth flying for.

Q Doc, Portland, Ore.
The only film festival in the United States dedicated exclusively to queer documentaries, Q Doc transforms Portland?s Clinton Street neighborhood into a bustling mini gay district for a long weekend every summer. Docs provide lessons in oft-erased gay histories while bringing to light other diversity issues. It?s like the NPR to the other festivals? glossier, fiction-oriented frills.
Who It?s For: Indie intellectuals, community builders. June 2?5; QueerDocFest.org

Q! Film Festival, Jakarta, Indonesia
As much a celebration of art as a political act—last year?s ninth installment saw protests by hard-lined Islamic groups almost forcing a cancellation—Q! Fest bravely leads the front lines of Indonesia?s human rights and culture wars. Screenings and community-building events are free, the audience skews young, and the festival travels to more tourist-friendly locales, like Bali.
Who It?s For: Activist auteurs. Late September; Q-Munity.org

Mix Brasil, São Paulo, Brazil Originally a satellite of New York City?s experimental LGBT film festival MIX NYC, Latin America?s largest gay film fest has spun off into its own delirious orbit. Ardently queer, the 19th outing will challenge—in subject matter and style—with fluid new media explorations. Avant-garde hurt your head? Caipirinhas flow easily at the popular nightly after-parties.
Who It?s For: Queer theorists, culture whores. Mid-November; MixBrasil.org.br

?Iris Prize Festival, Cardiff, Wales
Frequently glossed-over short films get their proper prestige alongside a small sidebar of features in Wales?s increasingly cosmopolitan capital. Juried by filmmakers, actors, and authors like Alan Hollinghurst, around 30 flicks, all less than 35 minutes, compete for the prize. Expect a more intimate, intellectual vibe.
Who It?s For: Cineasts with ADD. October 5?8; IrisPrize.org

Mezipatra Queer Film Festival, Prague, Czech Republic
What it lacks in size Mezipatra makes up for in spunk. A recent awards ceremony traded dull pomp for porno as two couples—one straight, one gay—had sex on a dimly lit couch throughout the whole affair. That liberated attitude, plus a rich variety of associated seminars (most in English), draw a mixed queer/straight crowd.
Who It?s For: Voyeurs, label dodgers. Mid-November; Mezipatra.cz

Hong Kong Lesbian & Gay Film Festival
Asia?s longest running and most significant queer festival (now in its 22nd year) draws an au courant mix of films, parties, and allies of festival director Joe Lam, the brains behind local bilingual gay mag Dim Sum. Screenings take place at the Broadway Cinematheque, a refreshingly mainstream, location (the Hong Kong equivalent of ArcLight). Special programming for World AIDS Day.
Who It?s For: Cosmopolitan cinephiles. Late November/early December; HKLGFF.hk/en
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