10 Queer Film Festivals You Should Know About

July 23, 2014

Check out our list of top LGTBQ film festivals in the U.S. 


Portland, Oregon

QDoc, portland, david weissman, russ gage

Image courtesy of KBOO community Radio.

QDoc is the only festival in the U.S. that exclusively screens LGTBQ documentaries. The festival was founded in 2007 by David Weissman and Russ Gage.  It brings together audiences and filmmakers who engage in important discussions surrounding the current issues within the LGTB community.  In association with the Equity Foundation, the festival offers free tickets to those 23 years of age and under. David Weissman includes “It’s the only festival in the United States that is completely dedicated to LGTB documentaries.”


St. Louis, Missouri

qfest, st. louis

Image courtesy of We Are Movie Geeks.

QFest, hosted by Cinema St. Louis, “uses the art of contemporary gay cinema to spotlight the lives of LGTBQ people and celebrate queer culture.” The festival features documentaries, shorts and feature films in the historical Tivoli Theater in The Loop area of St. Louis.  Kat Touschner of the festival comments, “QFest St. Louis is a smaller festival, though we stress quality over quantity. We carefully select a mixture of features and docs that both highlight LGBTQ culture and expand audiences knowledge about issues facing our community. To accompany our documentary programs, we partner with community groups to discuss issues addressed in the films.”

Three Dollar Bill Cinema’s:

Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film FestivalTranslations— The Seattle Transgender Film Festival

Seattle, Washington

three dollar bill cinema, seattle lesbian and gay film festival, translations: the seattle transgender film festival

Image courtesy of Seattle Front Runners

Both queer film festivals are hosted by Three Dollar Bill Cinema, whose mission is to, “strengthen, connect and reflect diverse communities through queer film and media.” The Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival has been a part of the Greater Seattle LGBT community since 1996.  Kathleen Mullen, Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival Director says that her festival “is an event where LGBT people and their allies come together to watch films that reflect their diverse experiences and lives- a little bit of fun, romance and sex with the more serious moments and experiences that the LGBT community deals with internationally.” Translations began in 2006 and has been highlighting transgender issues. “It is one of the oldest and longest transgender film festivals in the world,” says Translations festival director Sam Berliner.  The Three Dollar Bill Cinema also holds outdoor screenings, a series of, “vintage queer films,” and a cinema version of Karaoke called, “Cineoke,” where you can sing along to your favorite movie musical while it is projected behind you.

Austin Gay and Lesbian International Film Festival

Austin, Texas

agliff, austin gay lesbian international film festival

Image Courtesy of The Austin Chronicle.

The Austin Gay and Lesbian International Film Festival began in 1987 and became a non-profit organization in 1995, when it became known as aGLIFF.  It grew from a four-day long festival featuring four films, “to a multifaceted nonprofit organization with year-round community programs that culminate in our annual film festival.”  The festival accepts submissions and includes first-time filmmakers and more seasoned filmmakers in their 150-film program. This year’s festival runs from September 10-14.

Damn these Heels Film Festival

Salt Lake City, Utah

damn these heels, utah lgbt film festival

Image Courtesy of Salt Lake City Magazine.

This creatively titled film festival showcases independent films, documentaries, and foreign feature-lengths from countries spanning the globe from Israel to Venezuela. Damn These Heels hosts free year-round screenings. The upcoming screening is The New Black, a documentary about how the African-American community is addressing the campaign to legalize gay marriage.  It will be held at the Brewvies venue, on August 21.

Queer Women of Color Film Festival

San Francisco, California

queer women of color, film festival, queer women of color media arts project

Image courtesy of Queer Women of Color Media Arts Project.

This unique film festival highlights “ queer women of color, gender nonconforming and transgender people of color filmmakers from the Bay Area and around the globe.”  The festival stems from the Queer Women of Color Media Arts Project, and this June it celebrated ten years of illuminating “vital justice issues that concern us all.”  The festival hosts a Training Program to create insightful films surrounding queer women of color.  The three-day long film festival at the Brava Theater in the Mission District of San Francisco includes film screenings, receptions, panel discussions and celebrates these important films.

 North Carolina Gay and Lesbian Film Festival

Durham, North Carolina


NC gay and lesbian film festival

Image courtesy of Carolina Theatre.

The North Carolina Gay and Lesbian Film Festival is hosted by the non-profit Carolina Theatre of Durham, Inc.  It is the second largest festival of its kind in the southeast, bringing in thousand of visitors each year.  The festival began in 1995 and includes documentaries, feature films and shorts.  The next NC Gay and Lesbian Film Fest takes place August 15-24.

Atlanta’s Out on Film

Atlanta, Georgia

Out on film, atlanta lgbt film festival

Image courtesy of Out On Film.

Since 1987, Atlanta has been celebrating LGBT Pride with Atlanta’s Out On Film festival. The festival shares stories of life, love, laughter and grievance within the LGBTQ community.  It includes over 80 films from comedy, romance and drama genres.  Out On Film runs from October 2-9 at the Landmark Midtown Art Cinema, with screenings along with Q & A sessions with the filmmakers. Jim Farmer, executive director of the festival, says, “we place a huge emphasis on diversity and inclusivity with our programming and have increased the number of short films we show every year. We are also one of only two LGBT film festivals in the country that received a grant from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences last year.”

Cinema Q

Denver, Colorado

cinema q, denver film festival

Image courtesy of Denver Film.

“Queer Lives. Queer Voices. Queer Visions.” Cinema Q, begins this Thursday, July 24 and runs through Sunday, July 27 at the Sie Film Center in Denver.  “Cinema Q presents the best of the best in film that covers every aspect of the LGBTQ community and introduces new visionaries, pays tribute to iconic staples, tells stories from around the world and connects us all with a common message of identity and understanding.”

On Level Ground

 Pasadena, California

level ground, on level ground, queer christian film festival

Image Courtesy of On Level Ground.

On Level Ground is the only LGBT/Christian Film and Arts Festival.  It focuses on faith, sexuality and gender.  It is in its second year of running, and expanded this year to a Road Show that will travel to Portland, Chicago, Toronto and New York City. The festival is currently accepting submissions for the upcoming festival beginning at the end of February next year. The festival’s Samantha Curley has spoken to us about the festival.  She says “Level Ground is the first faith-based LGBT film festival in the world. We create space for dialogue about faith, gender identity, and sexuality through the arts and festival programming. Level Ground fills an important niche in both the film-festival circuit and the wider national dialogue around faith, gender, and sexuality. By focusing on small-venue programming, offering intimate discussions and provocative panels featuring prominent leaders, writers, artists, and pastors, and hosting events around the films, the festival is quickly becoming a national innovator in festival programming, art curation, and the LGBT dialogue.”

Take a look at The Audience Awards’ library of LGBT films, here.


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