Documentaries about an unsung AIDS activist, outspoken transgender-Latina community organizer, the search for answers in a brother’s death, and an advance screening of the gay rom-com from a major studio are part of the schedule for QFilms Long Beach 2022.
“While special interest groups try to legislate our existence away, it is more important now than ever to see representations of our LGBTQ+ lives on screen,” said Carlos Torres, executive director of The LGBTQ Center Long Beach, which organizes and produces the film festival.
“Bros and its entirely LGBTQ+ cast is a monumental shift in how our lives are portrayed, and we are proud to bring it to our supporters,” Torres said. “The QFilms lineup this year is our best yet.”
QFilms Long Beach will take place from Sept. 8 to 11 at the Art Theatre on Fourth Street, next door to the LGBTQ Center Long Beach.
Tickets range from $14 for individual screenings to $130 for a VIP all access pass to all films, the opening night party, the ice cream social, and the Sunday brunch.
Tickets and passes are available here.
Proof of vax
Proof of vaccination is mandatory for all in person screenings and festival goers are encouraged to arrive early to navigate the process. Those who cannot show proof of vaccination will not be allowed entry.
It’s a fundraiser
Proceeds from the 29th annual QFilms Long Beach support programs for youth and families, older adults, health testing and mental health treatment, and legal services for victims of discrimination and crime including one of the nation’s few LGBTQ+ domestic violence clinics.
Each month the Center offers more than two dozen free community workshops, meetings, and programs.
Here are some film highlights from QFilms Long Beach.
7 p.m. with director and cast members attending a Q&A
Jay, a non-binary 40-something photographer, begins a cross-country move to start her life over in the midst of separating from her wife. During her trip, she takes a detour to stay with her high school best friend, who she was secretly in love and befriends a charismatic gay man who has long given up on love. Struggling to move forward with the next chapter of her life, memories of the past resurface as Jay grapples with the inevitable cycles of love, loss, and letting go.
9:15 pm with director and cast members attending a Q&A
Amid the backdrop of the Supreme Court’s upholding of marriage equality in 2015, a long-time gay couple divorce just as everyone else is getting married. After his commitment-phobic husband divorces him, Max, a stuck-in-his-ways gay man tries to start over. When he becomes accidental roommates with Conrad, a younger, hip nerd who is as romantically challenged as he is, sparks fly. The romantic comedy expires numerous possibilities of queer love, whether it involves an intergenerational romance, a middle-aged interracial throuple, or an artistic trans man looking for love in all the wrong places.
Ravensbrück concentration camp, Christmas Eve 1944: A female inmate is ordered to sing Christmas carols, when a voice calls out “Sing something from ‘Madame Butterfly’.” The singer chooses “Un bel di” — the ultimate expression of longing and hope. This selection begins the long-hidden, extraordinary love story of two prisoners held by the Nazis: professional mezzo soprano Nelly Mousset-Vos and Nadine Hwang, the opera-loving requester. Their relationship blossoms and transforms into a deepening love that sustains them through liberation of the camps, post-war separation, and finally to Caracas, Venezuela, where they begin to build a life together.
Nelly’s granddaughter, Sylvie, keeper of the family archives and its secrets, delves into the past and uncovers a trove of writing, films, and photos that her family has ignored for decades.
“Jimmy in Saigon” explores the mysterious death, radical life, and forbidden romance of a 24-year-old Vietnam veteran who died in Saigon in 1972. Jimmy’s rejection of his family’s values and his eventual death created deep trauma within the lives of his surviving family and complicated how he was remembered.
Director Peter McDowell, Jimmy’s younger brother, was only 5 years old when Jimmy died under a shroud of secrecy and shame. “Jimmy in Saigon” follows Peter’s 10-year search to uncover secrets surrounding Jimmy’s sexual orientation and rumored drug use. Peter finds surprising connections with his deceased brother and struggles to reach a new understanding of his own identity as a gay man. June 6 marked the 50th anniversary of Jimmy’s death in Saigon.
Queer and trans shorts
‘AIDS Diva: The Legend of Connie Norman’
Transgender activist Connie Norman described herself as an “ex-drag queen, ex-hooker, ex-IV drug user, ex-high risk youth and current post-operative transsexual woman who is HIV positive.”
In early 1990s Los Angeles, Norman, who appointed herself “the AIDS Diva,” was a powerful voice for people living with AIDS and queer communities. Her story is told in the documentary “AIDS Diva: The Legend of Connie Norman.”
‘Love Spells and All That’
As teenagers, Eren, the daughter of a powerful member of the Turkish parliament, and Reyhan, the daughter of the keeper in the summer house Eren’s family owns on the Istanbul island of Büyükada, had a forbidden love affair. Back on the island, 20 years later, Reyhan believes a love spell she had put on Eren 20 years ago has brought her back to the island. Eren is not superstitious, but she can’t help questioning if the spell might be real. The two embark on a day-long journey around the island to try and lift the old spell while taking a trip down memory lane.
‘All Man: The International Male Story’
A nostalgic and colorful peek behind the pages and personalities of International Male, one of the most ubiquitous and sought-after mail-order catalogs of the 1980s and ‘90s. For many gay youth, this magazine played a role their coming out. The documentary is narrated by Matt Bomer and features an all-star cast of celebrity stylists, fashion influencers, and comedic actors.
Did you know there are more than 32,000 mothers in America — many from conservative, Christian backgrounds — who fully accept their LGBTQ+ children? Spread across the country, but connected through private Facebook groups, they call themselves “mama bears” because, while their love is warm and fuzzy, they fight ferociously to make the world kinder and safer for all LGBTQ+ people.
“Mama Bears” is an intimate exploration of the journeys taken by Sara Cunningham and Kimberly Shappley, two “mama bears” — whose love for their LGBTQ+ children has turned them into fierce advocates for the entire queer community — and Tammi Terrell Morris, a young African American lesbian whose struggle for self-acceptance perfectly exemplifies why the “mama bears” are vitally important.
In “La Queenciañera,” Bamby Salcedo, an undocumented transgender-Latina activist, organizes her 50th birthday celebration attended by people significant to her life and survival. As she prepares for the event, Salcedo travels through L.A. County and watches her life go past — from the streets where she smoked crack and the Men’s County Jail where she was incarcerated to the journalists and academics she has enlisted to her causes and communities and organizations she has gathered to change the life of transgender people in the United States.
“Bros” is the first gay romantic comedy from a major studio. It follows two commitment-fearing gay men who appear to fall in love.
Eichner, who identifies as gay, not only stars in the movie, but also co-wrote it, two additional milestones for gay representation.
The film also features an entire cast of LGBTQ+ actors, including Luke Macfarlane (“Killjoys”), Ts Madison (“The Ts Madison Experience”), Monica Raymund (“Chicago Fire”), Guillermo Díaz (“Scandal”), Guy Branum (“The Other Two”), and Amanda Bearse (“Married …with Children”).