‘Something to get motivated’ — Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival turns 20

After attending a gay film festival in San Francisco’s in the early 1990s, artist Skylar Fein knew he wanted to create the same kind of celebration in Seattle. He tested the waters in 1995 then held the first Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival in 1996. Since then the SLGFF has grown into a Capitol Hill tradition. This year, more than 10,000 people are expected to attend the festival’s 20th anniversary.

The reels get rolling Thursday with a showing of Freeheld at the SIFF Cinema Egyptian.

“It’s something to get motivated, this bittersweet story about a woman dying and a fight for basic civil rights,” says Three Dollar Bill Cinema executive director Jason Plourde. “It’s also a reminder of how far we’ve come as a community and a movement.”

SLGFF 2015 will feature 150 films, including 60 features and many shorts. The carefully selected queer film program includes big-budget major motion pictures, local films and everything in between. The festival runs from October 8 to October 18 with showings at various venues around Capitol Hill and downtown including the SIFF Cinema Egyptian, Northwest Film Forum and AMC Pacific Place.

Head over to Grims (1512 11th Ave) afterwards to catch the opening-night gala — there will be refreshments and, presumably, stimulating conversation about the film.

You will also have a chance to catch up on neighborhood web series Capitol Hill: Season 2 — on the big screen:

Plourde says there isn’t necessarily a common theme among the films in the 20th anniversary edition of the festival. He did notice a couple trends, though. There is a big focus on drag culture and several films featuring strong females. Then there is the darker subject matter: October-appropriate horror flicks and thrillers.

Plourde was pleasantly surprised at this particular trend. “It shows how the genre has really expanded,” says Plourde. “It’s so much more than just romantic comedies and narrative.”

Drag Becomes Him

Drag Becomes Him

There is also a strong showing of Northwest-made films. From the documentary Drag Becomes Him (starring local drag queen Jinkx Monsoon) to Arthur Allen’s kickstarter-funded Winning Dad to local performer Sylvia O’Stayformore’s Night with Jacqueline.

Another exciting part of SLGFF 2015 is the chance to mingle with other LGBTQ film buffs and engage in all the thought provoking conversations this year’s eclectic lineup will surely inspire.

There are educational events, too. Want to get into the LGBTQ film making game yourself but don’t know where to start? Check out the October 10 Emerging as an LBGTQ Filmmaker panel. Show up at Three Dollar Bill Cinema’s new home in the 12th Ave Arts building to watch four panelists discuss the ins and outs of the LGBTQ film industry.

Full festival passes are available for $225; pricing for individual films varies.

Plourde says the festival keeps getting bigger and better. By attending you’re investing in the future of LGBTQ cinema. The proceeds from SLGFF help fund Three Dollar Bill Cinema’s other programs like the The Seattle Transgender Film Festival and the Reel Queer Youth summer program.

“The diversity of stories is really what it’s about,” says Plourde.

The 2015 Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival runs October 8th through 18th. Learn more at threedollarbillcinema.org/programs/SLGFF/.

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