Reel Affirmations XTRA, the monthly film series highlighting LGBTQ films, is about to get an upgrade.
Held monthly on the second or third week of each month, depending on availability, Reel Affirmations XTRA has until now taken place at the Human Rights Campaign’s Equality Forum.
But Kimberley Bush, director of Arts and Cultural Programs at the DC Center and managing director of the Reel Affirmations Film Festival and Reel Affirmations XTRA, hopes to take viewers to the next level by bringing the monthly screening to the Landmark’s E Street Cinema starting in April.
“I approached E Street a few years ago to see if they’d be willing to take on Reel Affirmations XTRA, and it wasn’t the best fit at the time,” Bush recalls. “But the general manager and the rentals coordinator recently asked if I could bring the monthly film series to E Street, and of course I accepted.”
The first screening in the new state-of-the-art theater will be on Thursday, April 18, when attendees will get a glimpse of the film Tucked, which chronicles the final weeks of a veteran drag queen and his friendship with an up-and-coming drag performer.
Other scheduled screenings include a showing of Gabriel Silverman and Fiona Dawson’s Transmilitary, about transgender service members who are trying to avoid being forcibly discharged from the Armed Forces, on Thursday, May 16; and J.C. Calciano’s Steam Room Stories, a comedy about a group of gay men struggling to save their favorite gym and steam room from the clutches of an aging cosmetics magnate who wants to destroy the building after she discovers the Fountain of Youth underneath it, on Thursday, June 27.
For filmgoers, E Street Cinema will offer a substantial upgrade over Reel Affirmations XTRA’s previous home.
“We’ve been supported by the Human Rights Campaign over the past few years, and their Equality Forum was a glorious space, but it wasn’t a proper theater,” Bush says. “It was all same-level seating. We were using a portable screen. There were times when the company we rented the screen from didn’t show up, so we ended up screening films on a white wall, using a plain speaker system.”
Now, Reel Affirmations XTRA will have all of the creature comforts — comfy chairs, fresh popcorn, and fountain drinks — and audio-visual impact that comes with being in a real theater.
“Going to an actual theater with theater-style seating and visual cinema package projection, you’ll have amazing sound and visual quality,” Bush says. “The seating is also more comfortable and the space lends itself to more of a community experience. It’s a step up. Now, we can experience the full-on effects of [our] amazing films, and our screenings will be more accessible to the larger public.”