LGBT Film Festival to Open in With Stellar Movie Lineup

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SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) — The North Louisiana Gay and Lesbian Film Festival will turn 10 years old and organizers are planning for more attendees, special guests and events to mark the milestone.

The NLGLFF, presented by People Acting for Change and Equality (PACE), will be Sept. 7-13 at Robinson Film Center.

This year’s week-long festivities will celebrate the LGBT culture and community through movies, discussions, receptions — and a brunch fit for a drag queen.

“It’s so much fun. You get swept up in the event and the whole grandeur of it all,” said festival chairman Sam Ortiz.

Festival organizers encourage those who identify as LGBT, as well as heterosexual individuals, to attend the week’s events with an open mind and heart.

“More than anything, I’d like for as many straight people as possible to come to this festival because they’re the ones who need education,” Ortiz said. “They’re the ones who maybe could learn a lot about our population from coming to a festival like this.”

LGBT on-screen representation is essential to changing perspectives, she said.

“It’s important to see people like you that you can identify with and you can see your story. It helps you to feel less alone,” she said.

Topics will include addressing issues within the LGBQ subculture, such as bias against age, size and race disguised as a preference, Ortiz said.

The NLGLFF’s mission is “to recognize important contributions that LGBT people have made to our culture, educate the general population and raise awareness of LGBT concerns,” he said.

Short films, documentaries and feature-length comedies, dramas and romances were picked by the NLGLFF’s Film Selection Committee.

The film selections include Hollywood leading actors with recognizable names such as Paul Rudd, Michael Chiklis and Constance Wu. Wu was a lead actress in ABC’s “Fresh Off the Boat” and this summer’s “Crazy Rich Asians” feature film.

Rising indie filmmakers are poised to address issues pertinent in the LGBT community, from transitioning as transgender to facing injustices to raising families to falling in love.

The festival will have several shining moments, including pop culture stars, must-see flicks and opportunities to get up close with the minds behind the movies.

The festival will begin Sept. 7 (Friday) with a shorts program, followed by a Q&A with Aja, a contestant from the TV show “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” She was a contestant on season 9 and a season 3 All-Star contestant. Afterward, Aja will perform at 10:30 p.m. at Central Station.

Local drag performers will host a “Drag Brunch” at noon Sept. 9 (Sunday) at the Robinson Film Center, including Lady Phat Kat, Sarina Styles, Jade Summers, Mya Andrews, Aubrey Synclaire and Ashley Johnson.

At 2:30 p.m., there will be a double feature showing of “Hurricane Bianca” and the sequel “Hurricane Bianca: From Russia With Hate.”

The NLGLFF’s official opening reception will be 6 p.m. Sept. 8 (Saturday) at RFC.

The screening of “Saturday Church” will be at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 8 and is expected to be a big hit, Ortiz said. The feature film follows a 14-year-old struggling with gender identity and religious beliefs. His efforts to escape his inner-city life take him on a journey of finding his passion.

“That film, I think, is one of the best film we’ve ever gotten,” Ortiz said.

“Saturday Church” will end with a Q&A session with the special guest cast, crew and the director. Slated to appear are Luka Kain, Stephen Conrad Moore, Alexia Garcia, Megan Spatz and Abbi Jutkowitz.

Festival special guests also include Ever Mainard (“The Feels”) and T Cooper (director, “Man Made”). For the full schedule and bios for the special guests, visit nlglff.org/featured-film-festival-guests/.

“This year, we’ve got more special guests than we’ve ever had. As of now, we have nine — eight coming in town and one doing a Skype interview for his film,” Ortiz said. “I’m excited about all of the guests we’re having this year because we’re going to have a lot of awesome Q&As after the films.”

Filmmaker appearances will allow the audience to further connect to the films and open conversations, Ortiz said.

The discussions have led schools to address bullying at local schools and for additional support groups and resources to be available for youth in the LGBT community, she said.

“The NLGLFF is a catalyst for so many fantastic things that happen in our community,” Ortiz said.

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