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Qfest at Proctors to focus on gay, lesbian films

As reported in this paper (Proctors movie festival to have gay theme), following months of planning, work is well under way for a cinematic celebration and recognition of diversity within New York State’s Capital Region and among Proctors fans, supporters and audiences.

Leveraging the power of film to enrich, educate, enliven and entertain, a week-long event titled Qfest will focus specifically on the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning communities in the region in a festival of gay-themed films slated for the GIANT-Screen of The GE Theatre at Proctors from Jan. 26 -31, 2011. The festival is inclusive and invites viewing by both the general public and members of the LGBTQ communities.

Proctors CEO Philip Morris encouraged teamwork between participating Proctors staff members who comprise the Qfest Programming Committee and outside individuals and organizations involved in the project.

“Goodwill and relationships are at the heart of everything we do,” says Morris. “We are keenly aware of our impact and responsibility to connect with our constituents in every community we serve. We want to continue to demonstrate that we are a real go-to place, a convenient, embracing and beautiful venue for sharing ideas, discussing issues -– and just having fun in ways that build and strengthen the bond of community within the region.”

In fact, says Morris, the Qfest initiative continues Proctors’ policy of inclusion that already is evident in programming at the Schenectady-based arts and entertainment complex for which he and Susan Fowler, director of programming and marketing, share responsibility. Recent shows such as Merchants of Bollywood, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Mazowsze, LAF Italiano and “Fiddler on the Roof,” as well as GIANT Screen movie offerings such as “Metropolis,” “Brideshead Revisited,” “Four Seasons Lodge,” “Handsome Harry” and the recent “Winter’s Bone” bear out this commitment.

Those who support the Qfest initiative as an Advisory Committee include:

• Audrey Kupferberg teaches film history at the University at Albany. Film archivist and appraiser, she has served as director of the Yale University Film Study Center and film preservationist-administrator at The American Film Institute. She offers monthly film commentary on WAMC (Northeast) Public Radio.

• Rob Edelman teaches film history at the University at Albany. He is a contributing editor of “Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide,” and offers film commentary on WAMC (Northeast) Public Radio.

• Libby Post is a longtime advocate for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community; she is founding chair of the Empire State Pride Agenda, the former president of the Capital District Gay and Lesbian Community Council, and presently co-chair of Faith in America. She is LGBT commentator for WAMC.

• Nora Yates is executive director of the Capital District Gay and Lesbian Community Council (CDGLCC) -– the prominent voice of the LGBTQ community in the Capital Region in promoting the well-being of all lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer identified people and those affected by discrimination based on gender identity and expression.

Others who expressed interest in the venture, but were unable to contribute as much time as the Advisory Committee, will serve as members of an honorary panel:

• Joseph Dalton is a classical music critic and arts reporter. Dalton’s stories have received awards from ASCAP and the Associated Press. His recent book, “Artists and Activists,” is a broad profile of the arts scene in the Capital Region. As a consultant to the Estate Project for Artists with AIDS, he led a three-year research initiative into the effects of the epidemic on American music that resulted in an online report and catalog. He blogs at www.HudsonSounds.org and www.MyBigGayEars.com.

• Aaron Holbritter is the administrative coordinator for the CDGLCC. In addition, he is actively involved in the Capital Region theater scene as an actor, director and producer and is an acting instructor for the New York State Theater Institute.

• Paul Lamar is former advisor to the GLFA club at SUNY Cobleskill. Currently, he is the accompanist for Capital Pride Singers, a GLBTQ chorus. Lamar currently teaches at the College of Saint Rose and at Sage. He is an established poet, playwright and theater reviewer for the Daily Gazette for 13 years.

All panel and committee members will play an important role in deciding on the films and associated events that will take center stage at Qfest, the first annual LGBTQ film festival at Proctors.

The festival’s emblematic banner -– Qfest -– refers to the word “queer,” a longstanding epithet used pejoratively to describe members of the LGBTQ community. An increasing number of young people have readily adopted the word as a bold, unapologetic call to action and intellectual engagement in changing mindsets among the population at large. The Proctors Programming Committee for the event opted to aggregate the film festival under the forward-looking perspective symbolized by the enigmatic and inclusive Qfest umbrella.


Expanding the portrait of the LGBTQ community


In his introduction to the newly published, insightful “Travels in A Gay Nation,” award-winning essayist, journalist, and fiction writer Philip Gambone writes, “The queer stories that are out there -– the ones getting the widest hearings, the ones given the imprimatur to inform the world of what being LGBTQ is all about –- are too often the ones that many of us can least identify with: Technicolor stories of big, loud, splashy celebs du jour whose lives and antics crowd the pages of the glossies, gay and mainstream. Of course, celebrities are part of our community -– in many cases an important part -– but they by no means encompass the whole story of who we are and what we’re up to.”

To author Gambone’s point, Qfest will strive to broaden the perspectives of both the LGBTQ community and those with an interest in how it is manifest and interpreted in recent films.

The common ground on which all parties involved in the Qfest venture seem to agree is that film is a successful catalyst for community discussion to the degree that it connects with the audience emotionally and viscerally. Story content, cultural relevance and local interest are key elements that those associated with Qfest hope to agree on in the coming weeks.

Pending agreement on films to be shown at Qfest, the event will feature from eight to 10 films coupled with panel discussions of some entries, entertainment by the Capital Pride Singers and introductions to some films by Qfest Advisory Committee members.

Blog contributor Thom O’Connor will chronicle the evolution of Qfest on behalf of Proctors, where press liaison is one of his hats.


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