Colleges Technical Services Manager Stefan Baer ’95 was recently quoted in an article published in the November 2011 issue of The Empty Closet, a publication of the Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley. The article, “ImageOut 19 dazzles Rochester,” gives a brief summary and audience commentaries of this year’s ImageOut festival. Held every year in October for the past 19 years, ImageOut is Rochester’s lesbian and gay film and video festival.
“There were so many films I enjoyed,” the article quotes Baer, noting he is a volunteer and member of the Theatre Operations Committee. “I really liked the French film ‘Tomboy’ and the film ‘Wise Kids.'”
The full article follows.
The Empty Closet
ImageOut 19 dazzles Rochester
Robby Morris • November 8, 2011
Last month, ImageOut, Rochester’s Lesbian and Gay Film and Video Festival, celebrated its 19thyear of bringing to our community one of the largest LGBT film festivals in New York State.
This year’s festival spanned 10 days, occupied three venues, boasted 45 programs of 82 films from 20 different countries, and included a record number of special guests, with many filmmakers and casts on hand at screenings for Q&As with the audiences.
From the sold out opening night film, The Night Watch (a gorgeous adaptation of Tipping the Velvet author Sarah Water’s novel by filmmaker Richard Laxton), screened at The Little Theatre, to the closing night Italian family dramedy Loose Cannons (poised to be this year’s audience favorite), screened at The Dryden, where Mayor Tom Richards made a special appearance, this year’s line-up earned rave reviews from audiences.
“There were so many films I enjoyed,” said Stefan Baer, a seasoned volunteer and member of the Theatre Operations Committee. “I really liked the French film Tomboy and the film Wise Kids,” he continued, singling out two particular films in the Youth Project Film series whose themes of identity discovery and acceptance struck a chord with viewers.
Another film that won over the crowd was the German feature Romeos, the touching, bittersweet story about a twenty-one-year-old transitioning from female to male.
“I think Romeos was my favorite,” said KaeLyn Rich, a longtime member of ImageOut and former author of The Empty Closet column “The Vagina Dialogues”. “It was really nice to have a narrative feature about a trans person. So often the trans issue movie are documentaries. It was a beautiful, wonderful love story.”
“I really enjoyed We Were Here,” offered Jason Roberts, Program Manager for Community Education and Recruitment for the Victory Alliance at the University of Rochester Medical Center. “It was about the early epidemic of HIV/AIDS in San Francisco. It was really compelling in the fact that it illustrated the history of (that part of) our community and put it up in front for us to better understand what really happened at that time.”
Festival goers wanting to take in something a little lighter were also delighted at this year’s offerings.
“I love Margaret Cho,” said Leslie Alexander, a newbie to the ImageOut scene, who attended Ms. Cho’s standup film, Cho Dependent. “She speaks her mind and says the things we all wish we had the balls to say.”
Lorene Machado, who has directed most of Ms. Cho’s standup films as well as the indie hit Bam Bam and Celeste, attended the screening, much to the delight of the audience.
“I’ve been attending film festivals since Margaret Cho’s first concert film, I’m the One that I Want in 1999, and I have a true appreciation for what goes into putting a festival together,” Machado commented about her ImageOut experience. “From the programmers to the volunteers to the audiences, I don’t take any of it for granted. Though I was only in Rochester for a day, everyone I met was so gracious and welcoming. It’s rewarding to see your film with an appreciative audience; it’s like seeing your film through new eyes. ImageOut’s crowd rocked.”
Writer/producer/director Q. Allan Brocka, whose previous work has been a highlight of past festivals, was on hand for the screening of the latest installment of his Eating Out series, The Open Weekend. He was joined by his cast, which included Christopher Salvatore, Daniel Skelton, Aaron Milo, Michael Vara, and Harmony Santana, who delighted and charmed the audiences at the Closing Night Party and at their screening.
Other films that earned praise were director Casper Andreas’s Going Down in La La Land (which featured ImageOut favorite and one of last year’s special guests, actor/writer Jesse Archer), the 10th anniversary screening of the gender bending musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch (which included a sing-a-long at the Dryden) and the rockumentary Hit So Hard: the Life and Near-Death Story of Patty Schemel (“Courtney Love’s interviews were ridiculous and fantastic,” raved Jessica Wilkie, ImageOut’s Programming Co-Chair).
EC Editor Susan Jordan put in a good word for the hilarious and clever Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same, by Madeleine Olnek, which was a Sundance selection this year. Star Lisa Haas was present at the ImageOut screening and did a spirited Q&A session with the audience.
In addition to a week of fabulous films, attendees were invited to celebrate this year’s festival at the Opening Night Party, Splash, at the Strathallan and the Closing Night Gala, Viva, at the Atrium at Village Gate. TLA Releasing surprised ImageOut by throwing a special party (in honor of their film Longhorns screening) at Bamba Bistro, with appearances by the film’s writer and director David Lewis and star Derek Villanueva.
Of course, more than just providing entertainment, ImageOut continues to strive to bring to the forefront LGBT visibility and the importance of community.
“I love that we are educating people with the films we bring in from around the world,” said Kevin Fuller, ImageOut’s Business Manager. “It’s also an opportunity for us to show the gamut of not only the talent, but also the filmmakers (involved in LGBT filmmaking).”
Board Member and Theater Operations Co-Chair Joe McCrank adds, “Years ago you couldn’t see these films outside of ImageOut. Now, with availability of DVDs and Netflicks, do we still have a need for it? Well, I keep getting the impression and feedback from people that they love the festival because while, sure, they can rent them, they’re not going to be among friends and feel the same sense of community.”
If you’ve never attended an ImageOut screening, Programming Co-chair Michael Gamilla says, “You don’t know what you’re missing!”
Visit www.imageout.org and find out how you can become an ImageOut member or volunteer.