Philadelphia’s theaters were alight with comedies, dramas, documentaries and even a “Big, Gay Musical” in the past two weeks for the 15th annual QFest.
Although the LGBT film festival donned a new name this year, the 12-day event offered myriad film screenings, discussions, workshops and parties.
This year’s festival provided moviegoers a vast selection — more than 100 films — but less than last year’s 176.
Matthew Ray, spokesperson for festival organizer the Philadelphia Cinema Alliance, noted that the Out in Philly shorts series, which showcases the work of local artists, was one of this year’s most popular programs.
“What we saw is that there is a deep hunger in the Philadelphia film community for local productions, so our local shorts series sold out very quickly and we even gave it another screening,” Ray said. “And that was tremendous for the local filmmakers who were featured to have a crowd that big. It was just gigantic for them.”
Ray said the diversity among festivalgoers was also noticeable, with a large contingent of heterosexual allies in attendance at the screening of “Pop Star on Ice” and a considerable lesbian presence, possibly due in part to the PCA’s efforts to expand the number of lesbian-themed films in the festival.
“We had some really strong programming for the lesbian community, and they definitely came out in support of the festival,” Ray said.
Organizers saw an overall positive response from the audiences, whom Ray said seemed to appreciate the economic limitations that festival organizers faced this year.
“I think people this year were very understanding about the challenges of doing a multi-day festival in a fragile economy, and I think they were pleased overall with the programming and the events,” Ray said. “With any festival, the barometer usually floats back and forth between ‘This was the best ever’ or ‘the worst ever,’ but we generally found that a lot of people were just really positive.”
TLA Releasing and the Philadelphia Film Society, which previously produced the Philadelphia International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival jointly, split earlier this year, and many TLA representatives formed the PCA. Ray said he did not think the restructuring had any noticeable impact on this year’s event.
He also noted that QFest organizers will continue to develop and grow the event from year to year, taking community feedback into consideration.
“I think there are always going to be changes; every year something’s different. The Cinema Alliance and the QFest programmers are always open to changes and making any alterations,” Ray said. “I definitely think we’re going to continue working with our community partners; they showed us so much support this year. And we’re going to continue to work to program energetic and entertaining films.”