Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Reel Pride Richmond Film Festival Comes Out Center Stage the Second Time Around

Listen to the full audio here.

Photos by Sarah Freiseis

Last Friday, November 5th, The Second Annual Reel Pride Richmond Film Festival kicked off at Richmond Center Stage. The sold out crowd convened at the Gottwald Playhouse and mingled as they awaited the opening of the LGBT film festival. Opening night attendees were treated to the Richmond premier of Howl followed by a gala. Patrons, sponsors, and volunteers were among those enjoying the party.

The film festival was organized by ROSMY, Richmond Organization for Sexual Minority Youth. ROSMY was started in the early nineties as support system and educational forum for Virginia’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth. The proceeds from the festival go to supporting the LGBTQ youth in the community, and some of the films, like FIT were presented by ROSMY at no charge to students as an opportunity to experience dialogues and scenarios they can relate to themselves and the world around them.

Beth Panilaitis, Executive Director of ROSMY, said the planning process began just as the previous festival ended. She said over the last six month things really started to come together.

"We had a film festival committee that got together, and vetted dozens and dozens of films, so its a fun committee to be on if you really are a movie buff, and have gone through and the films coming out this year and have been shown at the film festivals, contacting producers, and then watching all of the screeners to see which films were the best, which films made the most sense to show, and which films were the most representative of the LGBT community as a whole," she said.

She said things are already in the works for next year.

"Next year we can plan a bigger and better film festival, we expanded this year from last year because more people know about the festival, and more people want to come out, and I think more people also know about ROSMY, and so we can plan on it expanding and having another great selection of films," she said.

Panilaitis talked about how Friday’s festivities at the new venue marked a successful venture on many fronts.

"Last year we had a great venue at the Firehouse, and we really enjoyed it, but we were looking at growing the film festival and we sold out opening night last year, for 100 spots, and this year for 180, so we wanted to find a place that not only was larger, but would be something that would attract folks from all over the city, and we thought that downtown would be a great location," she said. "It's an amazing feeling, we have sold out tonight, you know we have a lot of people who are coming because we are showing a great movie but also because they want to support a great cause.”

Hannah Winter, a ROSMY representative, was outside of Richmond Center Stage ushering people to the Reel Pride Film Festival on opening night. She said she was having fun and glad to be a part of such an exciting event.

“Tonight we've got the Reel Pride Film Festival happening, and Richmond premier of Howl which is awesome, and just to benefit ROSMY which is a great organization,” she said.

Jane Lucas, a literature teacher at Virginia Commonwealth University, said that the excitement surrounding the opening night film is meaningful to her in more ways than one.

"I have long been a fan of Allen Ginsberg’s, and I think it's very exciting that this film is premiering tonight, one of my freshmen, actually earlier this semester during an oral presentation started reciting parts of Howl and I was so excited to hear someone 18 years old, who was so familiar with Allen Ginsberg he was actually reciting a part of Howl considering how many decades its been since Allen Ginsberg wrote Howl,” she said. “I was talking to him about the fact that this movie was coming out and he was so excited and had actually seen some of the ads and was so impressed with Franco's rendering of Ginsberg's poetry he was so energized and so excited about the fact that this film was coming out, and I am too, I’m always really excited to tell students that films are coming out that depict writers of great works, and so that's part of the reason that I'm very excited about this and that I'm here."

Monica Behney came to the opening event to support ROSMY while enjoying the more social aspects of the evening.

"I'm a volunteer for ROSMY so I've been supporting the organization in that way, for just over two years, so I'm really excited to support it in this way as well, and also have a great time at the event," she said. “I’m looking forward to the party.”

ROSMY Office Manager, Karen Austin, said although she did not preview the films, she was excited to see them as she knew the board had made a unique selection that could help ROSMY increase awareness.

“I hope it will continue to grow as word spreads and gets to the community in Richmond, and that more and more people will come out and support the Reel Pride Film Festival as well as ROSMY and the youth we represent."

The films, running all day Saturday, were specifically selected to appeal to varying audiences in the LGBT community. Many films were coupled to highlight a feature film and a short film in the same showing. 8: The Mormon Proposition played with a special screening of “I’m Just Anneke,” an eleven minute documentary. The Reel Pride Richmond Film Festival came to a colorful conclusion with the six-time academy award winning favorite Auntie Mame.

-Sarah Freiseis

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