QFilms Festival 2019: Here are the LGBTQ movies you will be seeing

LONG BEACH — Almost 60 years before Pete Buttigieg became the first openly gay person to seek the presidential nomination from the Democratic Party, Jose Sarria made history.

Jose Sarria

The 38-year-old female impersonator and founder of the Imperial Court system became the first openly gay candidate for public office in the United States.

In 1961, Sarria campaigned for a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. He lost the election, but won almost 6,000 votes, proving for the first time in American politics that the LGBTQ community had a voting bloc.

‘Nelly Queen’

That historic accomplish will be explored in the film “Nelly Queen: The Life and Times of Jose Sarria.” An exclusive sneak preview of the documentary will open the QFilm Festival 2019 in Long Beach on September 5.

The four-day film festival will end September 8.

All screenings will take place at the historic Art Theatre on Fourth Street.

Jose Sarria Nelly Queen

Jose Sarria performs a drag show at the Black Cat Bar in San Francisco circa early 1960s. Photo: “Nelly Queen: The Life and Times of Jose Sarria.”

QFilm Festival

Long Beach LGBTQ Center organizes QFilms and is the beneficiary. 

In its 26th year, QFilms is Long Beach’s longest-running film festival. The festival spotlights narrative features, documentaries, and short films that showcase the vast diversity and experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer communities.

Launched in 1993

Robert Cano, the festival’s founder, posted about the event on social media over the weekend.

The festival was launched in 1993, Cano said, “during the AIDS Crisis, and it was in response to all the negative press that our LGBTQ community was receiving.

“I wanted our communities’ own voices and images to be heard and seen here in Long Beach,” Cano wrote.

The festival is a mix of West Coast, California, and local premieres and also shows some of the most acclaimed movies on the film festival circuit.

More than 2,000 people attend each year, according to the Center.

Cheryl Dunye

Cheryl Dunye is one of the lesbian filmmakers featured in “Dykes, Camera, Action!,” which will screen at the 2019 QFilms Festival. Photo: Publicity image.

More than movie screenings

Filmmakers and cast members from some films shown will participate in audience discussions after the screenings.

Apart from movies, festival events will feature nightly parties, a filmmakers lounge, and Sunday brunch, as well as opportunities for attendees to meet and mingle with filmmakers, actors, critics, and other industry professionals.

Here are some the movies.

Sept. 6

  • “Nice Chinese Girls Don’t!” (6:45 p.m.)

A short documentary that spotlights Kitty Tsui, a Chinese American lesbian poet-writer-activist. Tsui, Gay Games gold medal bodybuilder, talks about coming of age in San Francisco in the 1970s, and how her life has been rediscovered by another generation.

  • “Dykes, Camera, Action!”

This documentary explores the history of lesbian cinema and features a who’s who of queer female filmmakers including Barbara Hammer, Rose Troche, Cheryl Dunye, and Desiree Akhavan.

  • “Making Montgomery Clift” (9:15 p.m.)

Actor Montgomery Clift was a four-time Oscar nominee and left a lasting impression with roles in “From Here to Eternity,” “A Place in the Sun,” among other films. He bucked traditions on and off screen, but some biographies have reduced his memory to one of tabloid fodder. In “Making Montgomery Clift,” nephew Robert Clift and Hillary Demmon dispute some flawed narratives (they say Clift was not tormented or tortured because he was gay) and provide a multi-dimensional portrait that is long overdue. They use a vast collection of unreleased archival material from Monty and Brooks Clift, Monty’s brother and and Robert’s father.

Making Montgomery Clift

Actor Montgomery Clift is the subject of the documentary “Making Montgomery Clift.” His nephew, Robert Clift and Hillary Demmon, provide a multi-dimensional portrait of the actor that is long overdue. Photo: “Making Montgomery Clift.”

Sept. 7

  • “¡Gaytino!” (10:35 a.m.)

A filmed version of Dan Guerrero’s acclaimed one-man autobiographical show about being gay and growing up in East Los Angeles in the 1950s, working in New York City in the 60s and 70s, and moving to West Hollywood in the 1980s.

  • Queer and Trans shorts (12:30 p.m.)
  • “The Garden Left Behind” (2:45 p.m.)

A young transgender woman and her grandmother navigate life as undocumented immigrants in Manhattan.

  • LGBTQ Asian Shorts (5 p.m.)
  • “Good Kisser” (7:30 p.m.)

Wendy Jo Carlton’s romance spotlights three women and their sexy weekend.

  • “From Zero To I Love You” (9:30 p.m.)

Watch what happens when a husband and wife cope with long buried secrets.

Sept. 8

  • Men in Briefs (11 a.m.)
  • Women in Shorts (1:15 p.m.)

“I’m Moshanty, Do You Love Me?” (3:30 p.m.)

 Tim Wolff directs a profile of the late, great transgender South Pacific music singer Moses “Moshanty” Tau.

  • “Water in a Broken Glass” (5 p.m.)

A woman puts herself in the middle of a love triangle with a charismatic man and a beautiful woman.

  • “Where We Go From Here” (7:45 p.m.)

An ensemble drama that centers on three acts of terror disrupting the lives of ordinary people.

For tickets and more information, click here.

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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