glbtq: an encyclopedia of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender & queer culture
social sciences
special features
about glbtq


   member name
   Forgot Your Password?  
Not a Member Yet?  

  Advertising Opportunities
  Permissions & Licensing
  Terms of Service
  Privacy Policy






Alpha Index:  A-B  C-F  G-K  L-Q  R-S  T-Z

Subjects:  A-B  C-E  F-L  M-Z

Bookmark and Share
Film Festivals  
page: 1  2  3  

Paralleling the growth of the modern gay rights movement since the 1970s, the diverse collection of glbtq film festivals, now recognized as the film festival circuit, came into its own in the early 1990s, just as the "New Queer Cinema" achieved mainstream recognition. It has now burgeoned into a major international phenomenon.

The New Queer Cinema

The 1990s opened with the 1991 arthouse release of such unapologetically queer films as Todd Haynes' Poison, Jennie Livingston's Paris is Burning, Gus Van Sant's My Own Private Idaho, and Norman Rene's Longtime Companion, which paved the way for the 1992 phenomenon known as the New Queer Cinema.

This term was coined by cultural critic B. Ruby Rich in her seminal Village Voice overview of the 1992 Sundance Film Festival. The triad of gay features she identified as characterizing the term--Christopher Munch's The Hours and Times, Tom Kalin's Swoon, and Gregg Araki's The Living End--were the hot tickets on the gay festival circuit for 1992, with both Swoon and The Living End achieving limited theatrical release from Fine Line Features and Strand Releasing, respectively.

While 1986 had seen a mini-boom that was dubbed the "Gay New Wave" by Film Comment magazine, few of these films (Donna Deitch's Desert Hearts, Bill Sherwood's Parting Glances, Arthur Bressan's Buddies, Jaime Humberto Hermisillo's Dona Herlinda and Her Sons) were exhibited at the major gay film festivals of the time.

Unfortunately, the New Queer Cinema was basically a gay male phenomenon. The real lesbian crossover did not happen until 1994. The Sundance Film Festival was once again the origin of mainstream legitimacy when the Samuel Goldwyn Company acquired worldwide rights for a scrappy lesbian feature out of Chicago, Rose Troche and Guinevere Turner's Go Fish.

Although the film was only a moderate success at the box office (with a national gross just under $2.5 million), it was a major turning point in lesbian cinema. Goldwyn's marketing plan for the film capitalized on the big three summer festivals (New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles), timing the film's release in each city to make the most of its high profile in the gay film festivals.

On opening night at the 1994 San Francisco festival a choked-up Rose Troche explained to 1500 delighted lesbians (okay, there were lots of gay men there too), "I made this film for you guys." The film opened the next day in San Francisco for a very successful run and remains one of the top ten lesbian releases in terms of box office grosses.

This marketing strategy continues today as many distributors clamor for opening and closing night slots at the major gay film festivals as a means of creating excitement and garnering exposure for their films in an increasingly saturated marketplace.

This is a drastic change from earlier prevailing attitudes when distributors went to great lengths to avoid having their films pegged as "gay" or "lesbian" and thus avoided gay film festivals. "It's not a gay film, it's universal," was a common refrain of the time.

From Akron to Zurich

There are currently more than 150 glbtq film festivals listed in PlanetOut's PopcornQ Directory of International Lesbian & Gay Film Festivals. These festivals cross the globe from Akron, Ohio to Zurich, Switzerland.

Most festivals are annual events (more than 30 take place in October, also known as GLBT History Month). Some take place over the course of a weekend, some last a week to ten days, and some carry on over the course of many weeks, as is the case with touring festivals.

While screenings of new and recent films predominate, the festivals also create additional programming such as archival and repertory film showings, panel discussions, speakers, or clip and comment shows offering overviews of anything from gay film history (the origin of Vito Russo's The Celluloid Closet [1981]) to a tongue-in-cheek look at the career of porn star Ryan Idol (Richard Dyer's clever foray at the 1994 San Francisco International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival).

The oldest and largest of the glbtq festivals is the San Francisco International Lesbian & Gay Film Festival, which was established in 1977. The festival's 25th Anniversary in June 2001 was celebrated with an expanded festival and a huge international queer film and video conference called Persistent Vision.

    page: 1  2  3   next page>  
Contact Us
Join the Discussion
Related Entries
More Entries by this contributor
A Bibliography on this Topic

Citation Information
More Entries about The Arts
Popular Topics:


Williams, Tennessee
Williams, Tennessee

Literary Theory: Gay, Lesbian, and Queer

The Harlem Renaissance
The Harlem Renaissance

Romantic Friendship: Female
Romantic Friendship: Female

Feminist Literary Theory

American Literature: Gay Male, 1900-1969
American Literature: Gay Male, 1900-1969

Erotica and Pornography
Erotica and Pornography

Mishima, Yukio
Mishima, Yukio

Sadomasochistic Literature

Beat Generation
Beat Generation




This Entry Copyright © 2002, glbtq, Inc. is produced by glbtq, Inc., 1130 West Adams Street, Chicago, IL   60607 glbtq™ and its logo are trademarks of glbtq, Inc.
This site and its contents Copyright © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.
Your use of this site indicates that you accept its Terms of Service.