Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Appalachian Queer Film Festival Returns to Lewisburg

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Appalachian Queer Film Festival Returns to Lewisburg

Article excerpt

WANT TO GO?

Appalachian Queer Film Festival

WHEN: Thursday through Sunday WHERE: Lewis Theatre, Lewisburg TICKETS: All festival $45. Individual shows $10. INFO: aqff.org

Acceptance of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals in West Virginia isn't universal, but Tim Ward, one of the founders of the Appalachian Queer Film Festival, said it's not as bad as most people might imagine.

West Virginia gets a bum rap.

"Outside the state, there's this misconception that people in West Virginia are intolerant, Ward said.

That hasn't been his experience, particularly in Lewisburg, where the film festival will be returning for its second year.

From Thursday through Sunday, the festival will showcase eleven different films - five shorts and six features - centered around LGBTQ issues and stories and made by LGBTQ filmmakers. (The addition of the Q' to the more familiar LGBT initials, stands for queer,' taking back a word long used as an epithet for gay people.)

The feature films include "Add the Words, "Tangerine, "The Cult of JT LeRoy, "Bare, "From This Day Forward, and "That's Not Us.

The festival will also host panels on the importance of diversity of in LGBTQ films and the fight for equality in West Virginia.

Ward said this year the festival is a little larger, building on the successes of the first year.

"Last year was great, he said. "We were so well-received. It was just really beyond our wildest imaginations.

But maybe an unlikely success, according to some.

Ward said there were plenty of people who said a film festival with the words "Appalachian and "queer wouldn't work when he first started reaching out to people about putting on the film festival.

When he began exploring the idea, other film festival planners told him, "I don't think that's going to go anywhere.

Disappointed, Ward said he shelved the idea and then he and his partner moved to Baltimore. They stayed for about a year.

Ward said some of his experiences there were like the typical negative experiences gay men often see regularly - name calling, abuse, assault - but they were things that had never really happened to him growing up or living in West Virginia.

When he moved back to the Mountain State, he met up with a West Virginia filmmaker, Jon Matthews, who encouraged him to go ahead with organizing the festival and helped him make contact with others who could help. …

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