One of the keys to producing a successful film festival is finding a unifying theme, an identity that lets viewers know what sort of experiences are awaiting them. For eight years now, the Southwest Gay and Lesbian Film Festival has had little trouble with that. Reveling in its identity as the premiere outlet for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender cinema in the Southwest, Albuquerque’s own SG&LFF has been able to attract hundreds of quality features, documentaries and shorts. With festival founder and director Roberto Appicciafoco beating the bushes for content, the festival has forged a solid reputation as an annual must-attend.
But don’t let that theme fool you. SG&LFF works hard to provide a wide range of subjects, stories, characters, genres and styles. “Bringing a slate of showcase films that is wide and diverse is something I look for,” points out Appicciafoco. “We’ve got a diversity within our community, and I look for films that show that. This year, we’ve got features from Australia, Norway, Canada, Israel, Argentina.”
Flip through this year’s brimming schedule and you’ll spot a gripping drama about the U.S. military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy (A Marine Story), a “Sex in the City”-style romp about burly fetishists (Bearcity), a documentary about a 16-year-old Navajo boy murdered in a brutal hate crime (Two Spirits), a lesbian thriller from Argentina (El Niño Pez), a tale of forbidden, same-sex love among orthodox Jews in Jerusalem (Eyes Wide Open), a probing examination of the obsession with physique in the gay community (The Adonis Factor) and a high-profile biopic about Allen Ginsberg (Howl).
Local filmmakers will also be represented with the long-awaited premiere of the psychedelic fantasy Malice in Wonderland featuring Albuquerque’s very own queens of drag, The Dolls. Alibi’s Midnight Movie Madness is getting involved too, sponsoring the festival’s late-night screenings. On Friday, Oct. 8, at midnight it’s Baby Jane?, a flamboyant drag queen re-imagining of the Bette Davis classic What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? On Saturday, Oct. 9, it’s Canadian shock filmmaker Bruce LaBruce’s naughty “reverse necrophilia film” L.A. Zombie.
“I think a lot of these films tend to have a lot of crossover appeal,” says Appicciafoco. “Years ago, being a gay and lesbian film festival, we were considered niche. But we bring a lot of different communities together. We have a large attendance by the straight community, who just want to see art house films.” By way of example, Appicciafoco points out one of his favorites on this year’s schedule— Undertow, a beautiful Peruvian film “filled with Magical Realism” that was a 2010 Sundance Film Festival audience award winner.
In addition to all the films, there will be an art show called “Gender: Transgression & Identity” at Harwood Art Center, a panel discussion on “GLBT Seniors” at Southwest Film Center, and the usual pileup of awesome opening and closing night parties.
“People have begun to realize that, after eight years, our programming is really tight and we are open to the community at large. We’re definitely a gay and lesbian film festival, but we’re open to everyone.”