Three Dollar Bill Cinema is a Seattle institution that has helped connect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, their friends, and their families through the power of film. For almost twenty years, Three Dollar Bill Cinema has acted as an important forum for LGBT filmmakers to share their work and connect with audiences.

Jason Plourde has been with Three Dollar Bill Cinema since their early beginnings in 1996 and served as Programming Director for a decade before taking on the role of Executive Director in 2012. A volunteer for the first Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival, Jason has seen the landscape of queer media change over the past seventeen years.

“It’s changed dramatically. In terms of content, I think stories at that time were either extremely positive representations or defiantly outsider New Queer Cinema,” said Plourde. “Now filmmakers are telling a wide range of stories using combinations of genres, styles, techniques, and themes. And the means of production are of course much more accessible than they were, which has allowed almost everyone to make media. As a result it’s not as difficult to find queer media now… it’s online, on television, even on our phones. So our organization’s responsibility is not to just get queer media seen, but to curate and contextualize what’s out there.”

Three Dollar Bill Cinema helps to serve and empower the queer filmmaking community in the Greater Seattle area through a series of programs, and filmmaking resources.

“We’re here to keep lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender films in the mix of what’s being shown on screens and what’s being created in our region. We partner with a variety of other organizations to support queer film screenings throughout the year, and we have a fiscal sponsorship program that helps LGBT films and filmmakers access resources and raise funds. We also are educating young filmmakers through our week-long Reel Queer Youth program that’s held every summer.”

Translations: The Seattle Transgender Film Festival is a groundbreaking venue for positive representation of transgender topics. Launched in 2006, Translations completed its 8th year in Seattle this May, and featured films from 11 countries. Translations is one of the only transgender film festivals in the world.


The Outdoor Cinema series proudly presents campy films of the past, screened outdoors in Cal Andersen Park in Capitol Hill. These fun and family friendly movies are presented free and range from a 25th anniversary screening of  John Waters’ Hairspray (7/19) to Conan the Destroyer (8/16).

The flagship program of Three Dollar Bill Cinema is the Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival (SLGFF). Held every October, the SLGFF has grown into a nationally recognized film festival. The SLFGG is vital part of the Seattle filmmaking community, providing a venue for the best in queer film. More than 10,000 attendees make the Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival the largest LGBT arts event in the Pacific Northwest. 2013 is the 18th year the festival will be held. The event showcases short films, features, and film discussion panels for Seattle filmgoers and cinephiles.

Three Dollar Bill Cinema recently announced that the highly anticipated documentary I Am Divine will open the 2013 SLGFF on October 10. The documentary tells the story of how an overweight, effeminate, bullied Baltimore kid transformed himself into an internationally recognized drag superstar,” according to I Am Divine Director and Producer Jeffrey Schwarz.

The Grand Opening Sundance Cinemas Sneak Preview Party took place Tuesday July 16th, offering filmmakers and supporters in the LGBT community a chance to celebrate Three Dollar Bill Cinema’s mission in the community. Ticket sales go to support the year long Three Dollar Bill Cinema programs such as Reel Queer Youth, Translations, and the Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival.

Care to show your support or get involved? Three Dollar Bill Cinema is maintained through the dedication of members and volunteers who commit their time and their passion to produce the annual programs and events. The staff at Three Dollar Bill Cinema is hard at work preparing for the 18th Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival which will be held October 10-20 at Cinerama, Harvard Exit Theatre, AMC Pacific Place, and the Northwest Film Forum.

Washington Filmworks is proud to count Three Dollar Bill Cinema as part of our community and we would like to thank Jason Plourde for contributing to this article.

2012headshotJploJason Plourde is the Executive Director of Three Dollar Bill Cinema. He was the organization’s Programming Director for 10 years and also works occasionally as a freelance ASL (American Sign Language) interpreter. He has served on international film juries, moderated workshops on queer cinema, and co-directed the documentary Harold’s Home Movies with filmmaker Sean West.