Boston’s Wicked Queer Film Festival Won’t Let A Pandemic Stop Its Screenings

“Being able to do this virtually is just another way of bringing the queer community together.” 

Boston’s 36th annual Wicked Queer Film Festival launched July 24th with a series of virtual features and shorts programs by and about queer people.

Wicked Queer, which is the fourth oldest LGBTQ+ film festival in the country, will run through Sunday, August 2. While films normally screen at venues across the Greater Boston area, this year’s festival is going online to maintain social distancing practices. Shorts programs can be screened by viewers across the United States, Mexico, and Canada while features can be screened across the United States.

“We’re reaching a much bigger audience than we would if it was just an in-person festival in Boston,” Katie Shannon, Wicked Queer’s Director of Programming, tells GO. With screening times extended through August 2nd for the shorts programs and many features, she says, films can be seen by more people over a longer period of time. 

The festival features an international line-up of documentary and narrative storytelling in both short and feature films by queer artists and filmmakers. Following last year’s introduction of a Muslim shorts program — “It was one of our most popular shorts programs last year,” Shannon says — this year’s focus is on both Muslim and Asian films. Among the entries are Graham Kolbeins’ “Queer Japan,” a documentary that dives into the country’s LGBTQ+ culture, and “Welcome to the USA,” a drama by Assel Aushakimova about a Kazach woman who wins the Green Card lottery. 

Other selections include the double feature of “The Whistle” and “The Unlikely Story of the Lesbians of First Friday,” two documentaries that chronicle the formation of gay women’s communities in Albuquerque, NM and Roanoke, VA respectively throughout the 1970s and ’80s. Gabrielle Zilkha’s “Queering the Script” explores the need for greater LGBTQ+ women’s representation on film and screen. The Chilean drama, “Death Will Come and Shall Have Your Eyes,” tells the story of lifelong partners facing death. 

In addition to reaching a wider audience, Shannon notes that the virtual format also gives filmmakers from around the world a chance to interact with audiences in Q&A sessions live-streamed on Facebook; sessions are recorded and available online. 

Despite the greater reach that virtual screenings afford, Shannon does say that there are elements of the live-screenings which are missed. For example, meeting the filmmakers in person, and giving them a chance to see their work live on the big screen. The festival is also “a great way to bring the queer community together,” she says. “So I think that’s a lot of what we missed.”

But on the brighter side, she adds, “being able to do this virtually is just another way of bringing the queer community together.” 

She also praises the all-volunteer Wicked Queer team who worked tirelessly to bring the festival online after its original April launch was postponed due to COVID-19. “We were lucky enough to be able to put this together from the time we found out we weren’t going live in April,” she says. “So launching in July, I think that just shows we’re a team. We’re all volunteers, so everyone has put in their time when they can outside of work to get this done.” 

Feature films and shorts programs can be purchased and viewed online through Xerb.TV. Selections cost $10 each and can be viewed during a limited time starting at the film’s screening release through August 2nd. For a full schedule, visit Wicked Queer Film Festival online. You can also visit the website if you’re interested in volunteering with or donating to the organization.

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