What makes you fall in love with a film?
Generally, I need to be touched by at least two of the elements, be it production, acting, story, depth, drama or something different. I can tell you what I DON'T love. ... Films that are too long, poor editing, terrible acting (and directors who insist the acting was great) and ego-driven producers/directors. Especially if that is the same person. I'm always wary when I see one name tackling three or more tasks in the opening credits. A director should avoid being the producer (negotiating and worrying about money), and the director/producer should NEVER be the editor. Ever. Never. No. Never. I don't care about you not having money. Never. Ever. Ever.
With the proliferation of gay-centric TV networks, straight-to-Netflix gay films, gay characters on mainstream TV shows, and an increasing level of tolerance, or at least co-existence, in the gay/straight communities, what purpose does a gay film fest still serve?
Any film festival serves the indie film fans. Despite the so-called proliferation of gay films, we're still seeing straight people play gay roles (Brokeback Mountain), and where else can people see these powerful documentaries and short films? How else would anyone think to see XXY or to give a chance to other foreign films? Manuela Y Manuel and Nouveau Monde (New World) wouldn't ever be rented from Netflix unless you'd seen or heard of them in a festival setting.
Almost as important is the chance to gather together. To share stories, to watch films and to socialize in a safe, protective, welcoming environment. It's still pretty hard to come out at work, to walk down the street holding hands with whomever you love and to marry who you want. You can come to Clip without fear of discrimination and don't have to "hide" in your living room to watch films that might have a special meaning just for you.
Can a gay film fest survive on GLBT audiences alone? Your note in the program guide suggests otherwise, with its appeal to gay filmgoers to bring their straight friends along.
Diversity should be welcome, and again, many of these films are compelling no matter what the crowd members identify themselves as being. Just because we're a genre festival shouldn't preclude any and all film lovers to enjoy some of these masterpieces (XXY is a masterpiece).
Related question: Rumor has it you yourself are openly heterosexual. (Gasp.) Is that true? And if so, what drew you into the world of curating gay film fests?
Those damn rumors! No, it's true. But I'm pretty gay. I got my degree in theater arts, I can sing every word from both Rent and Spring Awakening, and I love my Project Runway.
By chance I met the director of the Fresno Reel Pride film festival 10 years ago, and at the time I was praying to work for a film festival and a charity, and this met both of my prayers. Hey, I'm also openly Caucasian and would have loved to have marched alongside Dr. Martin Luther King! Fresno Reel Pride was and is the largest and best film festival in the Central Valley of California, so there weren't any other choices. And to be honest, it's much easier curating a genre festival, so I don't have to consider every film ever made in one year. ... I can concentrate only the 2,000 or so films made each year to fit this particular genre.
How frank can the on-screen sex be in a gay film fest without scaring the horses, or at least the conservatives (both gay and straight)? I've seen Shortbus at TIGLIFF and a 3-D version of vintage porn (the glory hole scene was hilarious) at the Philly gay filmfest — neither caused much of a ruckus. But have you ever run into any situations where you had to reject a good film for a gay fest because it was too graphic?
Ken Park (by Larry Clark, director of Kids). His actors were underage at the time of filming sex scenes, and we'd be arrested for showing the film. That's a definite boundary. Otherwise, with proper truthful descriptions, we should be fine. We have no intention of breaking the law, and we have to be quite sensitive to our particular audience concerns. Pedophilia is still slightly taboo, and it's broached perfectly well with taste and care in Clapham Junction. Rape scenes can be very disturbing, so I'm careful with that. Still, people who are identifying queer are identifying their sexuality choice. At some point sexuality has to come into the equation. ... and the film.
How local should a gay film fest be? What are the benefits/drawbacks of living in California while programming a festival in Tampa?