The 20th-anniversary celebration of the local LGBT film festival will have to wait until the fall, as organizers announced last week that the annual summer event would be postponed.
QFest, staged each year in July, faced several roadblocks this year, said founder and artistic director Ray Murray.
In January, after 34 years at the helm of TLA Entertainment Group, Murray sold the company to Sterling Genesis International.
“We had always used some TLA resources to do a lot of the back-end work for the film festival,” Murray said. “We did the program guide there, we had the mailing list there, we used the empty offices for volunteers and staff. So that all changed.”
Murray noted that the new TLA owners are supportive of an LGBT film festival, but the change, and its timing, made organizing the festival challenging.
Murray is spearheading the new Warehouse Cinema, a three-screen complex in Northern Liberties, and is also working as acquisitions director for TLA, acquiring gay and lesbian films for the company.
“January is usually when I start working on the festival and by the time I started being able to focus on it, it was already the beginning of March, and I realized there was no way we could pull it off,” Murray said. “Between the TLA job and the Warehouse job, and that we reconfigured some of our team, time just ran out. It was a reluctant decision, but it just didn’t seem like we could get it together in time so we thought, OK, we better just change this.”
The planned changes include a proposed “mini” festival in the fall at Warehouse. The complex is slated to open Nov. 1, and Murray said he’s aiming to stage an LGBT festival with about 20-25 feature films shortly after the venue’s launch. The event would be followed by a similarly sized festival in the late winter or early spring.
Murray said Warehouse, which will have a bar, restaurant and meeting room, will be a good fit for an LGBT film festival that includes appearances and discussions by directors and actors.
Following the two small festivals, Murray said the event should return as usual next summer.
“Hopefully, we’ll be back on track by next July,” he said. “Philadelphia loves stability so I hate breaking it up. I know it disrupts a lot of people’s plans, but everything this year indicated that we couldn’t pull it off the right way.”