With the realities of the pandemic, qFLIX Philadelphia, the region’s largest LGBTQ+ film festival had to cancel their annual plans back in March and postpone for the Fall. However, with the recent postponement of Philadelphia Pride, the organization decided to still celebrate somehow, just in a virtual way.
PrideFLIX is a virtual festival aimed to continue qFLIX’s mission of sharing the stories of LGBTQ+ people, and the line up of LGBTQ+ documentaries, feature films, short films, and web series will launch this Monday, June 1.
“We felt it was our duty to fill the void created from the postponement of this year’s pride,” said Festival producer, Bill Egan in a statement. “By supporting this virtual festival, folks can support future pride events. If we all can’t be together in person, at least we can come together virtually and share our stories and create the emotions and experiences that our festival-goers appreciate when they attend qFLIX each year.”
The festival will allow Philadelphians and beyond the opportunity to experience a multitude of stories told and aimed towards bringing awareness to the LGBTQ+ community as well as the LGBTQ+ creators and contributors who made them. The move to the virtual sphere was not totally out-of-bounds for qFLIX either.
“We’ve been thinking about virtual screenings for a few years now, and the virus moved us quickly in that direction,” explained Executive Director James Duggan in the release.
The festival has a full slate of enticing content including gay writer/director Mike Mosallam’s rom-com, “Breaking Fast.” According to Gary Kramer in the Philadelphia Gay News, the film stars out actor Haaz Sleiman as Mo, a heartbroken gay Muslim who meets — and eats with — Kal (Michael Cassidy) during Ramadan. Because the Holy Month forbids impure thoughts and activities, Mo is forced to practice self-control. Mosallam’s clever conceit allows Mo and Kal to fall in love as their relationship develops over numerous romantic meals and dates.
Both Sleiman and Mosallam will be participating in a post-screening talkback via zoom on June 29 along with Seth Hauer, the film’s producer as well. Most of the films playing at the festival will also follow the same suit and will include talk-backs with the filmmakers and/or talent.
Other PrideFLIX highlights include the unique romantic comedy “Straight Up,” from gay writer, director, and star James Sweeney following a gay man who non-sexually falls in love with a straight woman; the dramatic comedy from gay actor-turned-writer/director Mike Doyle, “Almost Love (aka Sell By)” which follows a group of gay and straight friends who are all grappling with issues of trust and jealousy, intimacy and communication; and the thriller ‘Huckleberry’ which follows the trans title character (Daniel Fisher-Golden) who must navigate a difficult break in his life when one of his closest friends asks for help with dealing with her violent boyfriend.
There are also a few documentaries that viewers can look forward to at the virtual festival including the popular “Gay Chorus Deep South,” about the week-long goodwill tour the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus took in five southern states with strong anti-LGBTQ+ laws. According Kramer’s Philadelphia Gay News article, the film is a showcase for the power of music, which, of course, is wonderful, but it is the how the chorus changes the minds of the people they meet — and how the people change the minds of the chorus — that reverberates.
Other documentary choices include “One Taxi Ride” a powerful story about one young man living in Mexico City who is trying to navigate a shaky past of traumatic relationships, and the web-series “Sadulous” about local Philadelphian Alejandro (director Alejandro Morales), a gay Latino who hasn’t left his apartment in weeks. There will also be an LGBTQ+ comedy showcase on June 23 featuring Morales.
Kramer’s article in the Philadelphia Gay News also states that “Late Night” films being pursued during PrideFLIX include the documentaries, “Blue Flower of Novalis,” about an HIV-positive gay poet in Brazil, and “Jonathan Agassi Saved My Life” a striking portrait of the Israeli porn star, as well as two features— “Aviva,” an eye-popping, gender-bending drama full of sex and dance, and “Equation to an Unknown,” an explicit and largely forgotten 1980 French porn film.
In addition to the special events and talkbacks with the film’s directors and creators, the virtual festival is also planning on hosting weekly moderated discussions of specific titles on Sunday nights in June to help those in the community still feel connected through art.
Tickets to PrideFLIX range from $7-$10 per viewing and $1 from each viewing will go towards local LGBTQ+ nonprofits. There will also be an opportunity to purchase festival passes to view all the films as well.
For more information and to purchase tickets or passes, visit qflixphilly.com
**Editor’s note. The original published article online and in Metro’s edition on 6/1 cites a release as a source of information/content. The source of content is actually from Gary Kramer who wrote an article for the Philadelphia Gay News. This article had been updated to reflect that.