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Q-Fest film festival set for Oct. 18-22 at UW-Eau Claire

| Denise Olson

Photo caption: The 2022 Q-Fest cohort of students, faculty and staff made a trip to the Portola Redwoods State Park while staying in San Francisco for 13 days.

A signature event for equity, diversity, inclusion and representation returns to the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire after a two-year pause due to the pandemic.

The entirely student-run and curated film festival Q-Fest 2022 is titled “The Queer and Now,” a kaleidoscopic array of full-length and short films examining queer lives in the U.S. and around the globe.

Sponsored each year by the campus Gender and Sexuality Resource Center (GSRC), a Q-Fest cohort of 11 students, two staff members and one faculty member travel to San Francisco to attend Frameline, the world’s oldest and largest queer film festival, and spend 13 days immersed in the city’s Castro District. From the hundreds of films they watch, Blugold students narrow down the selection to screen at UW-Eau Claire.

According to the Q-Fest mission statement, “What takes place during this trip is both a global examination of queer lives through film, as well as an exploration of queerness as recorded on the streets of San Francisco and the hearts of its inhabitants. The immersion experience culminates at San Francisco Pride — one of the world’s largest such celebrations of queer resiliency and community.”

Festival highlights

The full schedule of films, all free and open to the public, can be found on the Q-Fest website, and here are a few notable examples:

  • Tuesday, Oct. 18, 7-9 p.m., Woodland Theater, Davies Center
    • Opening night film: “BLACK AS U R”
      A documentary from director Micheal Rice examines homophobia in Black spaces and injustices experienced by Black queer people. Rice will attend and participate in a Q&A after the film.
  • Wednesday, Oct. 19, noon-1:30 p.m., Woodland Theater, Davies Center
    • Student presentations: Student cohort members will share their experiences in San Francisco, what they learned and how it changed them.

  • Saturday, Oct. 22, 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Pablo Center at the Confluence
    • “Mama Bears,” a documentary directed by Daresha Kyi. An exploration of the journey of two mothers, Sara Cunningham and Kimberly Shappley, who advocate fiercely for LGBTQ+ people, especially those persecuted by fundamentalist Christians in the U.S. Tammi Terrell, a featured subject in the film, will attend the screening with her partner; a Q&A will follow.
  • Saturday, Oct. 22, 8-10 p.m., Woodland Theater, Davies Center
    • Closing film: “El Houb” (“The Love”), directed by Shariff Nasr. A dark dramedy based on the real-life experience of a Moroccan man coming out to his Muslim parents.
Kallie Friede

Kallie Friede, interim director of the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center

Kallie Friede is the interim director of the GSRC and has attended the San Francisco trip multiple times, both as a GSRC student intern and a staff member in the center in more recent years. As with all years past, Friede says the summer 2022 immersion was a tremendous experience for all involved, and the return of this weeklong campus film event will bring even more learning opportunities to the entire campus and community.

“This 2022 student cohort has been exceptional,” Friede says. “They’ve challenged each other to think in intersectional ways in viewing the films and to be intentional with the content we want the UW-Eau Claire campus and the Eau Claire community to engage in. They programmed an incredibly diverse film lineup and we’re so excited to share them on campus during Q-Fest.”

Friede adds that after missing two years due to COVID-19, the energy behind this year’s event is exciting, especially in bringing back together an engaged community ready to learn through film.

“The impact of Q-Fest is multifaceted. It’s a catalyst for robust discussions, it shows important representation of queer people on screen, and it provides a vital chance to gather again in person to build community in ways we’ve sorely missed,” she says.

Student impact

group of students, some holding Pride flags
Q-Fest 2022 cohort in San Francisco

The students on the trip last summer were, from the left in the photo above, Erin McMichael, Emily Luebke, Jordan Blue, Parker Peters, Jay Grzybowski, Josh Holness, Maggie Minnick, Deyne Yarrington, Em Archambo, Scout McKnight and Jacksen Wolff. Full biographies for each can be found on the cohort page of the Q-Fest website. 

For the 11 Blugold students who took part in the immersion and the planning of Q-Fest, the consensus is that it’s hard to fully describe the totality of the experiences, partly because the impact is still emerging in many ways.

As noted on the blog page of the Q-Fest website, taking time for thoughtful reflection was an essential aspect of the experience:

“From their two-week observations written to express life in San Francisco to their reflections both pre- and post-immersion, student programmers noted their experience throughout the entire journey. Each student’s reflective, personable and immersive narratives highlight the experience of traveling to San Francisco, exploring the Castro District, and learning about themselves and their identities. These blogs express how being in a larger, brighter, queer community helped students shape and reshape who they are.”

The site also holds an extensive photo gallery of the San Francisco trip. 

Faculty impact

Kyle Whipple

Dr. Kyle Whipple, assistant professor of education for equity and justice

Dr. Kyle Whipple is an assistant professor of education for equity and justice, and this was his first time as a faculty programmer on the Q-Fest immersion to San Francisco. Whipple says that as a trans man traveling to San Francisco for the first time, the whole experience was somewhat of a pilgrimage that included many highly emotional moments.

“For me, it was the first time ever finding myself in such a normalizing queer space, and the emotions were raw many times,” he says. “For instance, the Twin Peaks hills outside the city were covered with a huge pink triangle for Pride, it was really something to see that.”

Whipple further explains the significance of the pink triangle, which represents the pink patches “homosexuals” (the term used to categorize gay men during Word War II) were forced to wear on their clothes during the Nazi regime in Europe. When the cities and camps were liberated, he says, those people were not freed but were taken to prisons because homosexuality was illegal throughout Europe.  

“I must have climbed those hills about 10 of the 13 days we were out there, and the first time I got up there I just sobbed,” Whipple says.

“We were there when the Dobbs decision came down from the Supreme Court, including a majority opinion that referenced homosexuality and ‘gay sex.’ It was hitting really hard, so it was good to be together in that place at that time. We cannot go back to a world where our lives are illegal,” Whipple says. 

“Histories like the one Kyle points out are why Q-Fest and other programs that celebrate queer people’s lives are so important,” says Dr. Christopher Jorgenson, UW-Eau Claire’s interim executive director of diversity, inclusion and leadership.

“Our stories must be shared, our community supported. This is why attending films at Q-Fest is more than just watching interesting films; it’s an intentional act of advocacy that invests in the lives of queer people. We are thrilled to offer this opportunity, and we hope to see you there,” Jorgenson says.

Students or faculty interested in taking part in the next San Francisco Q-Fest immersion and festival can contact Kallie Friede at friedeka@uwec.edu or the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center mailbox at gsrc@uwec.edu.