Festival's Future

Amid harsh economic realities and an evolving community, One In Ten calls for town-hall meeting to chart gay film fest's fate

by Will O'Bryan
Published on March 11, 2010, 2:25am | Comments

As piles of snow melt away, preparing the stage for cherry blossoms, change is in the District's air. But it's not all Mother Nature's doing. One In Ten, the LGBT cultural organization responsible for the annual Reel Affirmations film festival, marking its 20th year in 2010, is readying for its own big changes. What those changes will be, however, remains to be seen.

"A lot of festivals across the country have been closing their doors, and we don't want to see the LGBT film festival in the nation's capital close its doors -- definitely not as we hit this milestone," says One In Ten President Lisa King. "I don't want to be portrayed as, 'Woe is us,' but I don't want to be naïve and think we can chug along without the community's input. We're a small board -- seven people. Keeping the festival is a much bigger decision than seven people."

Between a grim economic climate, advancing technology, evolving community needs and a vacant director's spot, One In Ten is asking supporters to come out for a Thursday, March 18, town-hall meeting and help the board navigate a path into the future.

Robert Safro, the organization's vice president, says that when younger LGBT people may not need the sense of solidarity that once came with gay cultural events, such as the film festival, along with the growing accessibility of LGBT movies -- some possibly ready to stream live via Netflix at the same time they're offered as festival fare -- One In Ten has some serious questions to ask about its future.

"We have to see if the formula is still working," he says. "Is a 10-day festival sustainable? Or should it be cut back a few days? The other thing we want to try to gauge is the public interest. These are all things we need to talk about publicly. We don't have the ego to say we have all the answers, because we don't."

The March 18 meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the Human Rights Campaign's Equality Center, 1640 Rhode Island Ave. NW. For more information about One In Ten or the Reel Affirmations film festival, held in October, call 202-986-1119 or visit oneinten.org.