Austin queer film festival falls in love with Black stories for February mini-series
Representation matters, and Austin Gay and Lesbian International Film Festival (aGLIFF) has been at it for 35 years. The flagship festival is months away — not even scheduled yet — but a February mini-series on February 16 will celebrate Black History Month in one 40-minute documentary and three award-winning short films at the intersections of Black and LGBTQIA+ identity.
The event, "Been Here: Queer, Black & Proud," is a collaboration between aGLIFF and _OFCOLOR, Beyond Brotha, JAT Creative, and the George Washington Carver Museum. The latter will host the screening, as well as a reception and performance by local drag performer Amber Nicole Davenport. Afterwards, there will be a discussion with director Nathan Hale Williams (All Boys Aren’t Blue) and community leaders.
All Boys Aren’t Blue (2021), the main billing, is based on a memoir and series of essays by George M. Johnson emphasizing “gender identity, toxic masculinity, brotherhood, family, structural marginalization, consent, and Black joy,” according to a release about the event.
The documentary stages a reading by three actors who embody the author at different times, joined by singer and actress Jenifer Lewis. The story focuses on youth (Johnson is still only in their late 30s), and holds special value for younger audiences who may be navigating similar topics from childhood to college.
Three short films follow the main screening:
- The Funnel(2022) takes place on the South Side of Chicago during a housing crisis, exploring topics about romance, ancestry and displacement. Trina, the main character, is a poet who views the experience through generations of women.
- How Not To Date While Trans (2022) boldly chronicles the dating history of a Black trans woman. The 12-minute film colloquially packs in important context about the trans experience through Andie’s rapid-fire, stream-of-consciousness narration to the audience.
- Buffalo (2019) is written, produced, and portrayed by Paul Oakley Stovall (directed by Freddie Paull). The film turns the sexy delivery guy trope around into something sentimental and healing about a sexual awakening in the throes of grief.
The Funnel and How Not To Date While Trans are 2022 winners the Queer Black Voices Fund, aGLIFF's effort at responding to the 2020 police brutality protests and ongoing crisis. It aims to support "queer Black filmmakers, directors, writers, and actors," by ensuring that they are included annually in the organization's programming and lessening the financial load in applying and visiting Austin. The fund has raised nearly $20,000 by January of 2023.
Tickets (starting at $20 depending on date of purchase) for "Been Here: Queer, Black & Proud" are available at agliff.org. The screenings and surrounding events take place on February 16 from 6-9 pm at the George Washington Carver Museum.