For some, the first things that come to mind when thinking of gay cinema are films like Brokeback Mountain and Blue Is the Warmest Color. While these flicks have their merits, they barely scratch the surface of LGBT film. The fifth annual Desperado Film Festival is here to broaden viewers' outlooks with a weekend of shorts and feature films that will make the audience laugh, cry, and ultimately a look at the diversity of the LGBT community.
We recently talked with festival co-chair Dale Heuser about what this year's Desperado has in store.
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Originally started as an idea by a student, the Desperado Film Festival has grown in scope every year. "The film festival showcases film that is not available on DVD or online," Heuser says. "Most films have never before been shown in the Arizona"
The first festival was held in 2010, screening five films to 800 attendees. Each year, the festival grows larger and larger, with 2013's edition boasting two documentaries, seven feature films, 11 short films, and six guest speakers.
This year's festival features work from local filmmakers and up-and-coming features from Brazil, Denmark, Spain, and Germany.
The Desperado Film Festival not only educates the community, but entertains them as well. "The main goal of this event is to provide a film festival that will educate, entertain and enlighten the students, faculty, and staff of the Maricopa County Community Colleges and the greater Phoenix community regarding LGBT issues, concerns, and events," Heuser says.
The festival isn't just limited to large up-and-coming productions. "This event will also provide opportunities for student film makers to receive recognition for their work. It will provide leadership opportunities for the students organizing and volunteering for this event. It will provide visibility in the Phoenix and Arizona communities that will demonstrate that PVCC is an accepting, friendly, and non-discriminating environment for the LGBT community and possibly future LGBT PVCC students," Heuser says.
"Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia" screens on Saturday, January 25 at 11 a.m.
Heuser was excited to discuss the variety of films being showcased at the festival, saying, "I think that we have a great lineup this year. We will be showcasing some dramas such as Meth Head, Reaching for the Moon, Carl(a), and Truth. We [have] some very funny films such as Ian Harvie Superhero, Heterosexual Jill, Hot Guys with Guns, Who's Afraid of Vagina Wolf, and Big Gay Love. Southern Baptist Sissies has a great mix of dealing with serious issues and blending in humor into the plot. We have two great documentaries: Camp Beaverton: Meet the Beavers and Gore Vidal: United States of Amnesia. I am also very excited about the two short film series. Series one is free to the public and showcases the work of two student films."
All films being shown at Desperado focus on the LGBT community, though Heuser says that many of the films also focus on finding love or coming out.
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"Every year we have had at least two films per festival that have to do with coming out, whether it be admitting it to yourself and finding love, or coming out to your family or friends," he says. "The films we show have made impacts on our audiences and even volunteers. We have a lovely volunteer who is the straight mom of a lesbian volunteer, she flew out to simply watch some films and spend time with her daughter, but over the course of the festival she had times when she broke down after seeing films because she finally understood more about her daughter and the struggles that the LGBT community goes through. She went home after the festival and joined her local PFLAG group and is going to be a volunteer for us this year."
The three-day film festival also includes live performances by The Denise Allen Band, Voices of the Desert, The TBDs, and Mary Godfrey and Friends. All guests are invited to attend a mixer on Saturday, January 25 at 5:05 p.m.
The Desperado Film Festival continues January 24 through 26 at Paradise Valley Community College. General admission tickets cost $12, with discounts offered for seniors and students. Buy tickets and view the schedule here.