Capitol Hill LGBTQ film nonprofit Three Dollar Bill Cinema is celebrating the kickoff of its 23rd annual Seattle queer film festival with a new leader..
“Three Dollar Bill Cinema is about bringing our community together around queer film and media,” new executive director Ben McCarthy says. “Being able to see ourselves reflected on the screen is really important for our community, and it’s important to come together and see a film in a theater, the way it’s supposed to be seen, rather than on your phone or on your laptop or tablet or even your TV at home.”
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McCarthy moved to Seattle about seven years ago. After studying Stage Directing and Theater Management at Greensboro College in North Carolina, he moved to Seattle to attend graduate school at Seattle University where he got a Masters of Fine Arts and Arts Leadership. He then went to work as the leadership development manager at Seattle Works, a local nonprofit that works on volunteer engagement and leadership development in the community. After that, he served as director of philanthropy for three and a half years at the Seattle International Film Festival.
“Seattle called my name and I was excited to come,” McCarthy said. “I moved from a very conservative state that had a lot of challenges, that still has a lot of challenges, and moving to a city that is very progressive and open to all types of people was super exciting for me. I think we have a long way to go to completely accepting of everyone in Seattle but I think we’re far better than a lot of cities.”
As executive director, McCarthy oversees programming operations, fundraising and finance for the Three Dollar Bill Cinema, which has four core programs including the annual queer film festival currently underway. The other programs include “Translations,” Seattle’s transgender film festival; “Real Queer Youth,” an education program specifically for LGBTQ and allied youth who want to learn film making; and outdoor cinema held every year in Cal Anderson Park.
“Continuing to make sure that we’re including diverse voices within the film festival is important,” MCarthy said. “We’ve had diverse voices and stories. We worked really hard to make sure that we are inclusive of as many people as possible within our community and letting people see different stories from around the world to get insights into the queer experience.”
As he finds his footing in his new position, McCarthy said he wants to focus on learning as much as he can about the organization, going over past and present programs, and strengthening relationships with donors, members and community partners to move forward.
“The priority is learning the organization and meeting as many people as I can that love the organization,” McCarthy said. “We’re here and we’re excited about the festival. The organization has been through a lot over the last year, I would say, so the biggest thing is, we’re here, we’re excited for things. We’re a fairly new team so we’re all excited to meet everyone and come together over great films about us.”
Started as the Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival in 1996, TWIST: the Seattle Queer Film Festival has grown into the largest event of its kind in the Pacific Northwest. This year’s TWIST features the latest slate of queer cinema from 25 different countries including Kenya, Taiwan, Switzerland, Columbia, Australia, Tonga, Israel and Argentina. The lineup of 64 programs is comprised of 143 narratives, documentaries and short films. More than 40 directors, producers, actors and documentary subjects will be in attendance to introduce their films and participate in post-screening question and answer sessions. Venues include SIFF Cinema Egyptian, Northwest Film Forum, the Broadway Performance Hall, and AMC Pacific Place. The festival runs through October 21st. For more information visit threedollarbillcinema.org/twist.