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Students organize inaugural LGBTQA film festival

RELEASED: Sept. 24, 2010

Eau Queer Film Festival logoEAU CLAIRE — The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire will host the Eau Queer Film Festival this fall from Oct. 7-10. The festival precedes National Coming Out Day, to be observed Oct. 11. The screenings will be held in Davies Theatre and are free and open to the public. The festival is the culmination of a pilot travel seminar coordinated through the UW-Eau Claire women's studies program focusing on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and ally cultures and experiences.

The headline film, "Children of God," (U.S. 2010) will screen each night at 8:30 p.m. It has played internationally at film festivals, capturing the Audience Award for best film at the 2010 Torino Film Festival and Best Narrative Award at NewFest, New York City's LGBT film festival. Set in 2004, the film examines homophobia in Caribbean societies in a story of dissonance between Fundamentalist Christian communities and gay individuals trying to live their lives under the real threat of violence.

Other films, including "Fit," "The Sea Purple" and "Undertow," will explore how gender and sexuality are negotiated between friends, family and lovers as established traditions intersect with personal experience. The films span the globe (Italy, Korea, Peru, the Bahamas, Canada, Great Britain, Argentina and the United States) and include small budget independent shorts to feature-length productions. Post-screening discussions will be held. A complete schedule of all of the films and their screenings can be found on the Eau Queer Film Festival website.

The travel seminar that inspired the film festival was held during the 40th anniversary of the San Francisco Pride celebration in California. Eleven students, led by Ellen Mahaffy, assistant professor of communication and journalism, and Dr. Pam Forman, associate professor of sociology, participated in events and attended Frameline34, the world's most established LGBT film festival. The students spent a week viewing films from all over the world and participating in discussions with audiences, filmmakers, actors and Frameline staff. Beyond the intercultural immersion, students and faculty also engaged in hands-on filmmaking and produced four separate documentaries to premiere at the Eau Queer Film Festival. The students were inspired to coordinate a similar film festival on campus to share the films they screened and to show their documentary work.

The film festival is supported by a differential tuition grant, and the instructors' documentary project is funded by a University Research and Creative Activity grant through the UW-Eau Claire Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.

The travel seminar is supported by a Domestic Intercultural Immersion grant, a Summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates grant through ORSP, the UW-Eau Claire Foundation and private donors.

The latest information on the event can be found on the film festival website, and the group's Facebook and Twitter pages.

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RD/DW

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