It’s time to get your Q on at the 10th Annual QFest St. Louis. Presented by Cinema St. Louis, the LGBTQ film festival runs March 29 – April 2 at the .ZACK Theatre in Grand Center. QFest will present an eclectic slate of 19 films — 11 features (eight narratives and three documentaries) and eight short subjects. The participating filmmakers represent a wide variety of voices in contemporary queer world cinema. This year, QFest celebrates its 10 year anniversary, holding true to its mission of using the art of contemporary gay cinema to spotlight the lives of LGBTQ people and to celebrate queer culture
“Even while watching Sesame Street as a kid, counting as high as 10 was a milestone in learning and growing up,” Chris Clark, artistic director of Cinema St. Louis, says. “It is my sincere and humble delight to be a co-founder and guiding force in the current production of the 10th Annual QFest St. Louis, a presentation of Cinema St. Louis. What started as a loose-knit consortium of passionate individuals from a number of local non-profits and civilians interested in once again having an LGBTQ film festival in the area, QFest has grown over the years and now proudly includes double digits in its title.”
“In an interview last week for St. Louis Public Radio’s Cut and Paste podcast I was asked for an overview of films from our brief yet vibrant history,” Chris continues. “It made me proud to mentally reconnect with the stories, voices, and filmmakers that created the films we have screened over the years including several documentaries with varying perspectives on gay marriage that changed so much in such a short time.”
The 2017 QFest St. Louis begins on Wednesday, March 29, and runs through Sunday, April 2. Cost is $13 each or $10 for students and Cinema St. Louis members with valid and current IDs. All screenings will be held at the .ZACK Theatre in Grand Center. .ZACK is located three short blocks east of Grand Boulevard at 3224 Locust St., St. Louis, MO 63103. Direct sales links will also be on the QFest website.
“It is one of the core missions of Cinema St. Louis to present films that promote cross-cultural understanding through the art of the cinema,” Chris says. “For QFest we strive to select films that empower, celebrate and inspire the LGBTQ community as well as their many allies in this world.”
This year, the festival features a Queer Voices Shorts program, with a selection of six short film shots from around the world. One of the selections is Alzheimer’s: A Love Story, which follows an older Chicago gay couple, Greg and Michael, as they struggle with a disease eradicating the memory of their relationship 40+ years in the making. Vital VOICE chatted with the director and producer, Gabe Schimmel, in anticipation of its St. Louis debut.
“Greg was actually my father’s roommate in college, so we would visit when we were in Chicago. And Greg and Michael ended up being a big part of my life. But for financial reasons, we stopped going to visit them in Chicago about eight years ago,” Gabe begins.
“By sophomore year at Chapman [University], I had a class called ‘Community Voices,’ which gives students $5,000 to make a documentary with a non-profit in the area,” he continues. “We were assigned the Alzheimer’s Association of Orange County, and I immediately thought of Michael. The last time I had seen them was at a restaurant in Chicago, and Greg was just beginning to deal with the symptoms – he could put on an air of normalcy, but it was obvious that things weren’t okay.”
Gabe called Michael to tell him that he wanted to feature the two in the documentary. Michael, who by then had committed himself to caring for Greg, was beyond enthusiastic and willing to share his story. “He really seemed like he had a voice, and that was something he wanted to share,” Gabe explains.
“We were in Chicago for a week,” he explains. “It was simultaneously the most horrifically painful and indescribably beautiful thing I’ve ever experienced. Obviously it was hard, but I guess it was the way that Michael devoted himself to [Greg’s] well being that was so inspiring, and it was really great to see a relationship like that. It’s not often that you come across love like that.”
For the schedule of screenings and events, including trailers and full descriptions of the films, visit the festival website at www.cinemastlouis.org/qfest. The official QFest St. Louis page on Facebook is www.facebook.com/QFestSTL. V