Quirky QFest: Baltimore serves up LGBT film festival

“It’s funny,” says Christopher Lines of the Baltimore Queer Film and Media Festival, “a lot of the films that we’re showing have drag queens as either primary characters or playing important roles.”

That’s certainly true of the festival’s opening night film, First Period, screening Thursday, June 12. Charlie Vaughn’s spoof is what might result “if John Waters directed a John Hughes movie,” a very ’80s retro feel with what Lines calls a “high camp” modern touch. “The two main characters, the two young high school girls, are actually two men in drag.”

Baltimore's QFest: Age of Consent

Baltimore’s QFest: Age of Consent

This year’s inaugural edition of the festival, nicknamed the B’More QFest, screens over 50 films in the span of just four days, everything from short features to full-length documentaries. Among the documentaries are Age of Consent, about London’s infamous leather/sex fetish bar, screening Friday, June 13; and The Rugby Player, about 9/11 United Flight 93 passenger Mark Bingham and his mother, who became an LGBT activist after his death, which screens Saturday, June 14. The festival ends Sunday, June 15, with The 10 Year Plan, JC Caliano’s rom-com about two gay best friends who vow to commit to each other in a decade — if they don’t find love elsewhere in the meantime.

About 10 filmmakers are expected to attend this year’s QFest, which falls on Baltimore Pride weekend. The festival is essentially a rebirth of a festival that Lines ran for a few years in the late 1990s. Over the past decade without a queer film festival, Baltimoreans have missed out on a lot of LGBT-themed films. “A lot of times distributors will book in Philadelphia or they’ll book in D.C., but they won’t book in Baltimore.” And there’s still a limit to the LGBT content you can find on today’s digital outlets for film, from Netflix to Hulu. “There are so many LGBT filmmakers out there that don’t get the opportunity to get their films seen,” Lines says.

In recent years Lines studied film at Towson University and even tried his hand at the filmmaking craft. But he hardly revived QFest as a venue to show his own work. “No, I’m no longer a filmmaker,” he says, laughing. “I discovered I’m a better producer than I am a director.”

B’More QFest runs Thursday, June 12, through Sunday, June 15, at five downtown Baltimore venues. Tickets are $10 per film or $100 for a pass. Visit bmorequeer.org for a full festival lineup and more information.

Doug Rule is a theater critic and contributing editor for Metro Weekly.

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