This month marks the 23rd anniversary of the Fresno Reel Pride Film Festival, which will take place September 19–23, once again in the historic Tower District. This year’s event will showcase 50 LGBT-themed films.
The festival started at Fresno State University, in a classroom, but has grown to become one of the largest LGBT film festivals in the United States. The continuing mission of organizers is to increase awareness of the LGBT community through the exhibition of films that explore LGBT themes.
The criteria for films to be chosen is that they be either made by LGBT filmmakers, feature LGBT actors or have LGBT storyline content and be a first-run film to the Fresno Reel Pride screening area. Most of the selected films meet more than one of the criteria and many meet all of them. Of course, it is not an easy task for the programming staff, as there are always so many great films submitted, but organizers promise this year’s screening audience a quality and varied program.
Again this year, program staff have been able to bring a variety of titles to Fresno. The festival always opens and closes with films intended to get people talking, the “water cooler” movies. The middle three days will feature films that center on a theme that is showcased with a centerpiece film in the evenings. Films screened include comedies, dramas and documentaries.
In addition to the adult-themed films, every year as part of its outreach program, the festival invites local youth to a specially selected free film screening and pizza party. (Admission is free to this event with valid school ID.)
Attendance is never an issue at this hugely popular cultural event. The average number of attendees usually totals 10,000–12,000. Organizers expect the same turnout again this year, despite the current economic strain.
The collective purse tightening in the Central Valley might not be felt at the ticket office, but it has been felt. Fresno Reel Pride (an official nonprofit) relies on the generous support of the community in order to set up, obtain film rights, promote and run the festival. Thankfully, a dedicated base of members and sponsors who, through financial support as well as volunteers, and donations, have made the commitment to be proactive in ensuring that the festival continues year after year. (A full listing of the 2012 sponsors and members can be found at www.reelpride.com.)
Organizers also invite you to visit www.reelpride.com for a full listing of this year’s selected films (including trailers when available). Hard copies of the 2012 Film Catalogue are available for pick up at the Reel Pride box office at the Tower Theater (815 E. Olive Ave.).
Kaylia Metcalfe is a writer, blogger and activist in Fresno. She is a cofounder of Skeptics Without a Cause and serves on the Gay Central Valley Board of Directors. Her short story collection “Links” is available at www.amazon.com. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.