New and expanded LGBTQ film festival

Thom Cardwell stepped up to help organize the event set Sept. 18-22. SCOTT WEINER
Thom Cardwell stepped up to help organize the event set Sept. 18-22. SCOTT WEINER
Posted: August 22, 2014

For the last 19 years, Philadelphia has had an annual festival, under one name or another, celebrating gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer, and transgender films. A common denominator has been Thom Cardwell, who helped oversee the ambitious Philadelphia International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, called QFest since 2009.

After producer TLA Entertainment Group changed hands and focus earlier this year, 2014's QFest was dropped from its usual spot on the July calendar. Cardwell, however, stepped up to fill the vacuum.

He announced this week that he and his QUEERtimes copublisher James Duggan, along with the Philadelphia Independent Film & Video Association, are inaugurating qFLIXphiladelphia, an LGBTQ film festival slated for Sept. 18-22. Opening and closing nights will be at the Kimmel Center's Perelman Theater.

"Philadelphia, as a gay-friendly city, demands a LGBTQ film festival, celebrating independent films," Duggan said. "We're going to give it one."

The film lineups and guest appearances are yet to be finalized, but as its tagline suggests - "New Festival. New Media. New Attitude" - qFLIXphiladelphia will showcase not only features, shorts, and documentaries, but also Web-based film and TV productions. In charge of the festival's new-media entries is Michael Busza, recent Temple University graduate and a creator of the 2014 College Emmy-winning One of the Guys Web series. Premiering at qFLIX will be a Web series, Tainted Dreams, from Daytime Emmy-winner Sonia Blangiardo.

"There's a generation-gap thing," Cardwell said, "a 'graying of the festivals,' even the queer ones, that we're hoping to bridge with exciting Web offerings" that even "younger and entertainment-savvy audiences" might not have seen.

Along with new media, qFLIX will offer guests ranging from adult-star-turned-documentarian Michael Lucas ( Campaign of Hate: Russiaand Gay Propaganda) to the stars of the comic-bromance Saugatuck Cures, Max Adler ( Glee) and Danny Mooney ( Whip It).

Programming has not been the organizers' only consideration. Location mattered. By and large, screenings and related events will be either on the Avenue of the Arts or adjacent to it, in or near the city's "gayborhood."

"When we began thinking about giving the festival its own personality and attitude, we realized that much that was LGBTQ-identified in the city seemed consistently to move away from Philadelphia's out-and-proud gayborhood," Caldwell said. "We wanted to turn that trend around and give qFLIXphiladelphia a presence and location with a purpose."

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