The 12th installment of Q Cinema: Fort Worth's Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, which kicks off Thursday evening at 7:30 with a screening of the romantic comedy Violet Tendencies, arrives at a crossroads in American history: Gay marriage is now legal in five states; the long-standing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy compromising the ability of gays and lesbians to serve in the military is about to be repealed; more and more celebrities continue to emerge from the closet.
More than a few observers, gay and straight, are starting to wonder if we even need these sorts of festivals, or whether they continue to ghettoize gay audiences.
With its intriguing four-day lineup, however, Q Cinema makes a strong case for why gay-themed festivals are so valuable. For one thing, its organizers are bringing a number of independent films here that wouldn't be showing in the Metroplex otherwise, including the closing-night entry, a drama from the Bahamas called Children of God (7:30 p.m.). That's a laudable goal for any festival.
More importantly, Q Cinema is reminding us that the dialogue about gay, lesbian and transgender issues is far from closed. The most talked-about entry in this year's lineup is Ticked Off Trannies With Knives (8 p.m. Saturday, 3:30 p.m. Sunday), Dallas director Israel Luna's exploitation comedy-thriller. When it premiered in April at the Tribeca Film Festival, the film was the subject of bitter protests from members of the transgendered community, who argued that the film perpetuated negative stereotypes.
The saga has taken a curious turn since then, including a surprisingly enthusiastic review in Variety, which said that the film in fact is quite affectionate toward its transgendered characters. In addition to screening the film (twice), Q Cinema will host a panel discussion about the film at 2 p.m. Sunday. The dialogues at most local film festivals are usually of a far more prosaic and practical sort, designed to instruct budding filmmakers on how to finance and produce their films. Here's a case of a festival showing us that movies can still have a valuable real-world impact and open up lines of dialogue.
This year's lineup is smaller than it has been in the past -- a smart move, I think. Better that a festival should show a carefully curated group of titles than a bunch of movies that scrape the bottom of the barrel. I've yet to screen any of the titles, but I'm also looking forward to Beyond Gay: The Politics of Pride (1 p.m. Saturday), a documentary about the history and significance of gay pride parades; and a work-in-progress screening of TCU grad Rob Williams' Role/Play (8:30 p.m. Friday)
And since no gay film festival would be complete without at least one rom-com about hunky mismatched roommates who fall in love, there's also Is It Just Me? (5:30 p.m. Sunday). Hmm, maybe things haven't changed so much after all ...