Three Dollar Bill Cinema has been running Seattle’s Queer Film Festival for the past 25 years. Over the years they have established themselves as not only the largest LGBTQ film festival in the Pacific Northwest but also one of the very best in the US.
This is one of our very favorite cities and we particularly love the fact that it is also home to a wonderful thriving queer cinema industry. It’s really exciting to note that this year two local filmmakers, Wes Hurley and Aaron Bear, are getting to have hometown premieres at this Festival.
SQFF 26 is a hybrid festival from 10/14 – 10/24 with in-person screenings at theaters throughout Seattle, and a full virtual program of some of the very best new queer films that will also be available to people in all of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Alaska.
As usual, the Queerguru team has been through the entire program to bring our recommendations. It seemed tougher than ever this time, and we take our hats off to the Programming Team. Our list is highly personal and does not necessarily just include the ‘best’ movies but a handful of what we call
QUEERGURU''S PICK OF MUST-SEE FILMS at the FEST
BEING BEBE: Newbie filmmaker EMILY BRANHAM took a shine to BeBe aka MARSHALL NGWA back in 2006 before the world came to know about him. Then the tall good-looking man from Cameron in West Africa was living in Minneapolis Minnesota and doing amateur drag in a local gay bar. Even then he stood out as his costumes and performances were heavily immersed and inspired by his African Culture. After Bebe was the first-ever winner of Ru Paul’s Drag Race she had a roller coaster life of rags to riches and back again which she shares with disarming honesty that makes this doc so compelling and such a sheer joy to watch.
(P.S. you may also like to check out Queerguru’s interview with the Star, the Director and the Producer https://www.queerguru.com/talking-about-being-bebe/ )
We are so thrilled that the programmers selected BEING THUNDER. It Is the heart-touching tale of SHERENTÉ HARRIS, a two-spirit genderqueer teenager from the NARRAGANSETT TRIBE in Rhode Island. Sherenté an articulate and determined teen has the full support of her family and most of her tribe. However French filmmaker STEPHANIE LAMORRE‘s camera captures bias from some of the judges in the traditional shawl dance competitions Sherenté loves to participate. No spoilers here but there is a scene when Sherenté is surrounded by her family waiting to see which Colleges will offer her a place that will bring tears to your eyes.
FANNY, Award-winning Canadian documentarian Bobbi Jo Hart has this knack for uncovering queer stories that we may have heard of, but for the most part, are untold. Now she has turned her attention and cameras on Fanny the trailblazing all-female rock band from the 197O’s who never ever got the recognition they deserved. Hart’s wonderful uncovering of this exhilarating piece of queer/Filipino/female/music history is way past due and makes for such compelling viewing.
(P.S. You may also like to check out our interview with the filmmaker https://www.queerguru.com/bobbi-jo-hart-talks-about-fanny-the-right-to-rock-the-untold-story-of-one-of-the-greatest-girl-rock-bands-ever/ )
FIREBIRD is an enormously satisfying and complete film, and it has been playing at every single queer film fest we have covered this year. It tells a full tale of life, and love, and loss from its beginning right up to an end that could never need or want a sequel. PEETER REBANE‘s story of two Soviet military recruits, a pilot officer and a private, falling in love on a military base during the 70s cold war, is based on a true story. Skeptical as we are about stories ‘based on’ truth, people’s ages and weights on dating profiles might make that same claim, there is an undeniably human element to this story that grips the heart and mind with a sense of both individuality and history
JUMP DARLING : When you reach the end of the road you are on, what can you do? There are two answers, you stop or change direction. In CLORIS LEACHMAN’s final film made prior to her death, both these alternates are explored, and the poignancy is inescapable. Leachman plays Grams, the aging grandmother grown tired, frail, and distanced from the passions that engulfed her earlier years. Dreams of joining the ice capades are barely a memory. Facing a slow exit from her life, or the inertia of a retirement home, she grapples with what little sovereignty she has left. It is an exquisite swan song for one helluva wonderfull actress and person
MASCARPONE : The opening scenes of this delectable new Italian queer dramedy is set to send shivers down the backs of quite a few gay men in long-term relationships. A rather oblivious Antonio is abruptly told by his long-time husband Lorenzo that their marriage is over as he has fallen in love with someone else.
Kudos to the co-directors for their intelligent take on urban queer love and life. Also for ensembling such a talented (and very handsome) cast to live it out so authentically, and proving that we all need some drama in our lives.
We are thrilled that the hometown premiere of Seattle queer filmmaker POTATO DREAMS OF AMERICA is the Opening Gala Film of the Fest. This excellent autobiographical tale of his journey from Russia as a young gay immigrant is the perfect choice for the opening night gala. Maybe a tad patchy in parts but it’s a joyous wee film with some wonderful surprises like an adorable Jonathan Bennett as Jesus and an almost unrecognizable Lea Delaria giving a scene-stealing performance.
(P.S. You may also like to check out our interview with the filmmaker https://www.queerguru.com/wes-hurley-talks-potato-dreams-of-america/ )
PS Burn This Letter Please. In 2014, a trove of letters was discovered in the storage locker of Los Angeles DJ and talent agent Reno Martin chronicling the joys, squabbles, and everyday lives of New York City drag queens during the 1950s and 60s. In the hands of filmmakers JENNIFER TIEXIERA and MICHAEL SELIGMAN this story is gorgeously told through vintage home movies, photos, and interviews with the queens themselves, this fascinating look at Pre-Stonewall gay culture rewrites what we know about the clandestine, transcontinental networks that sustained queer people when female impersonation and homosexuality were criminal offenses.
(P.S. You may also like to watch Queerguru’s interview with the filmmakers https://www.queerguru.com/how-p-s-burn-this-letter-please-is-set-to-become-one-of-the-best-new-docs-on-queer-history/ )
Despite its setting of poverty and oppression, there is a real sense of joy and elation in the lives of the Cuban drag queens captured in Transformistas (the local term for Drag) in this new documentary. Cuba has always held conflicting and ambiguous views on homosexuality. in 1992 a small group of drag queens defied the Government and set up weekly performances in a gay bar/community space called El Mejunje (The Mixture) They called themselves El Futuro (The Future). Filmmaker CHAD HAHNE shot the entire film on his iPhone on the down-low without permission from the Cuban regime.
YES I AM : THE RIC WEILAND STORY. Another hometown premiere for local queer filmmaker Aaron Bear.
We all need heroes and role models. Especially in the LGBTQ community. Most of the ones we have are very colorful and loud. However, there are some like RIK WEILAND who are far from that. Yet this very quiet private man, who sadly took his own life in 2006, is probably the most important queer activist and philanthropist of his generation. Thanks to Aaron Bear’s new film we hope Weiland’s name and memory will be recognized for who he truly was.
( P.S. We were so fortunate to be able to track down the filmmaker and film this interview with him https://www.queerguru.com/aaron-bear-talks-about-yes-i-am-the-ric-weiland-story/)
For the full program and how to book tickets check https://threedollarbillcinema.org/sqff
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