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Pride Film Festival: Which Movies Will Make The Cut

Since 2004, Bloomington's Pride Film Festival has brought LGBTQ-themed movies to the Buskirk-Chumley Theater. The hard work of choosing which films make the cut is the job of the volunteers on the Steering Committee. They picked through some 100 submissions and selected 23 films to screen over four days.

Diverse Perspectives

Bloomington, Indiana was pegged as the fourth "gayest city in America" by The Advocate in January 2010. "But you can live in the gayest place on Earth, and if you don't have a community of people to talk about that with or go through that with, it's just not as powerful," says Abby Henkel. She is a member of the Steering Committee and also worked as the graduate assistant at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater through IU's Arts Administration Program.

She appreciates that the group is a broad cross-section of the community, consisting of students, faculty, community members, men, women, and folks of all ages.

Diversity among the films is just as important as the diversity of the steering committee itself. "Everyone thinks of cultural representation, but we're talking everything" from length of film to the perspectives represented. Filmmakers include professionals as well as amateurs, and the quality of the films themselves ranges from big, Hollywood-style productions to 300-dollar home movies.

Reacting And Rating

Some films didn't make it into the festival schedule proper, but are being screened on campus or around the community. That's the case with the documentary "Stonewall Uprising." After viewing that film, the committee couldn't stop talking about it. Some shared personal experiences of their own in New York City at the time of Stonewall; others spoke about how those events have shaped young people today.

Then there was "Undertow," a Peruvian film that has won 39 festival awards, including a World Cinema Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival. "At the end of that one, everyone was silent, not because they had nothing to say, but because everyone was internalizing it," Henkel recalls.

After the conversations, the committee members fill out forms and rate the films with attention to specific elements, like the quality of the plot, technical accomplishment, and something else…

"There's not technically a question on our form that asks, 'Is it gay enough?'" says Henkel. "But at the end, it's obvious."

Tying It All Together

The theme of this year's festival is Family: It's All Relative. Henkel explains that the theme was chosen before the movies were chosen, and that was big point of contention amongst the committee members: Should all the movies relate somehow to family?

Along with follow committee members, Henkel decided that the theme wouldn't influence her ratings. "Family is in every movie. What movie doesn't have a family member or a thought about family or definition about family?"

More: Read an interview with filmmaker and journalist Reed Cowan. His film "8: The Mormon Proposition" was screened as part of the Pride Film Festival's off-site events.

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