Friday, November 5, 2010

Reel Pride Film Fest Ramps Up for Second Year

Listen to the full audio here.

Tonight, the critically acclaimed movie Howl will have it's Richmond premiere. The film is about Allen Ginserg's infamous poem which spoke explicitly about homosexuality, and the obscenity trial it provoked. The screening is part of the Second Annual Reel Pride Richmond, a film festival highlighting gay lesbian and transgender issues put on by ROSMY. On Saturday, five LGBT relevant films will be presented on the big screen.

WRIR News sat down with Beth Panilaitis, Executive Director of ROSMY, to talk about what we can expect.

The first Reel Pride Film Festival in Richmond happened in February of this year.
She said it was the brainchild of a board member.

"Who thought this is a great opportunity number one for us to educate the public. It's something that doesn't happen in Richmond, doesn't happen in the central Virginia area so it's a great opportunity for us to educate the public, bring the community and it's also a wonderful development opportunity for ROSMY to raise funds and raise awareness of the organization."

Paniliatis said the event will happen every year in November from here on out. ROSMY moved the festival because they wanted to have a fall event in addition to their Springtime in the Garden awards ceremony. Also, the first event ran into some problems with mother nature.

"Last year the film festival was during one of the major snowstorms in February and we decided it would be great to avoid the snow and have the film festival when people can come out and not be barred by the snow."

Despite the torrential weather, Paniliatis said the response from the first film festival was huge.

"We sold out opening night and the vast majority of those people trekked out in the snow, came in boots and big jackets, it was a wonderful sense of community. And it's one of the reasons we moved the venue this year because we had such a positive response from the first year that we wanted it to be even bigger."

In order to accomodate a larger crowd, the film festival moved from the Firehouse Theatre to Center Stage this year. Peniliatis said ROSMY is part of the tradition of Reel Pride festivals, which have happened for over twenty years in cities like Winnipeg and Sacremento, bringing LGBT films to the community.

"The films that we show at Reel Pride are not films that you can just go to your neighborhood theatre and see, just like the other LGBT film festivals across the country. These are films that aren't necessarily going to be coming to other theatres. These are smaller art flicks and other things that we wouldn't have access to otherwise."

Howl starring James Franco is an exception but Peniliatis said it fits with their opening night gala and Reel Pride's mission.

"It's a great film, it's well done, it has some amazing actors in it and it also does highlight someone who's a pioneer in the LGBT movement. Allen Ginsberg absolutely lived an out life when it wasn't all that easy and I think that is something that is universal for everyone in the LGBT community"

And all of the money made from the festival will go directly to ROSMY. ROSMY has provided services to LGBT youth for almost twenty years and they also train adults to effectively work with LGBT youth. Peniliatis said:

"Those funds will directly help the youth in our community and will also help create systematic change for our youth no matter where they are."

The first film on Saturday is FIT which is the first feature film made for schools to tackle homophobic bullying. The film is free for students. Peniliatis said ROSMY's board members who were involved in selecting the films wanted to have at least one educational film.

"And you know, we picked it months ago but I think with everything that has been in the news, it is really timely and we will follow that with a panel where we will talk about how we can make our schools and our communities safe for our youth."

After that panel, five full lengh and feature films will be presented. Finally, the festival will show the charming 1958 classic Auntie Mame. Peniliatis said people have expressed particular excitement about this film.

"We thought it would be fun on Saturday night to close out the film festival with a film that people know and love most people who have never had the opportunity to see on the big screen and it's a really fun film to have people turn out to."

If listeners are interested in seeing clips from the movies showing at Reel Pride Richmond or to get tickets, visit

Stay tuned for pictures and interviews from the event.

-Caroline Jackson

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