“The best part for us is how the festival has helped to create community among queer folks across the city.”
Washington state’s capital hosted The Olympia Film Society Pride Film Fest for three days this summer. According to festival programmer Sara Jade Webb, the festival celebrated films from around the world “about trans-activists, lesbians from outer space, and stories about the young and old.”
Q: What was the Olympia Pride Fest’s beginning?
A: We (Stephanie Summers and Sara Jade) had been volunteering at the Olympia Film Society for a year or so, and were sad to find out that Olympia didn’t have a queer film festival. There had been one at Evergreen University in the ‘80s and ‘90s, but nothing more recent. Steph has quite a bit of experience volunteering at queer film festivals in Seattle and Albuquerque. We started chatting with OFS staff about the possibility of starting one in Olympia and The OFS Pride Film Festival was born.
Q: What are some of your favorites films from this year’s film festival?
A: All of the films are really great, so it’s hard to choose. We were really excited to show The Way He Looks, a coming of age drama about a blind teenager from Brazil. It’s been picking up awards all over the world including the Teddy Award and Frameline’s Best Feature Film.
Q: What is something unique about OFS Pride Film Fest?
A: We have a great line up of award-winning films from all over the world, including Brazil, Israel, Canada and the UK, that cover a large spectrum of the LGBT community. We had documentaries about trans-activists, lesbians from outer space, and stories about the young and old. Our opening night film was To Be Takei, a documentary about gay rights activist and Starfleet commander Sulu (George Takei). Our closing night event’s feature film was Cupcakes, a delightful comedy from Israel directed by Eytan Fox (Yossi & Yager). Closing night we also had a performance by local drag queen, Flirtica Fondue, and a screening of Becoming Flirty, a short film by local filmmaker Mian Bond-Carvin.
Q: How did you get your start in the film festival industry?
A: Stephanie started working film festivals in Las Cruces, New Mexico and continued helping with the Southwest Gay and Lesbian Film Festival in Albuquerque, New Mexico. These festivals allowed me to do different types of work and see how festivals were put together. The first time I traveled to Frameline in San Francisco, I was inspired by how much one festival could inspire other festivals. I met festival creators from around the world who had come to participate and screen films for their own festivals. Working at the smaller festivals enabled me to feel like I could take on a film festival here in Olympia, Washington.
Q: What is the best part of your job at Olympia Film Society?
A: This festival was organized by volunteers with support from OFS staff. The best part for us is how the festival has helped to create community among queer folks across the city.
Q: How has the community involvement been with the festival?
A: Most of the films in the festival were matched with community guests. The guests were non-profit groups including PFLAG, Stonewall Youth, Pizza Klatch, SAGE, Planned Parenthood and Capital City Pride. These groups all deal with different issues in the queer community including youth, elders, sexuality, and HIV awareness.