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Ah, October. Leaves start falling, pumpkin spice lattes start steaming, and weather starts turning crisp. However, there is not just a unique kind of beauty outside – inside, local film festivals are showing a vast variety of stunning and original films.

One of the local Washington film festivals that has colorful and socially significant pieces on display is the ever-growing and popular Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival! Featuring films ranging from local to international, comedy to horror, SLGFF has its biggest festival yet in its 20th year.

To celebrate its 20th anniversary and rendition, Washington Filmworks sat down with Three Dollar Bill Cinema Executive Director Jason Plourde and Festival Director Kathleen Mullen to discuss this year’s lineup and what the festival means to Washington State’s film industry.

WF: Seattle is the 3rd fastest-growing city in the country with extensive growth in population and industry. How has the city growth impacted the festival?
Jason & Kathleen: 
More people have become involved with the festival (new sponsors, for example, bringing in new opportunities) which helps the year round organization Three Dollar Bill Cinema grow and develop with the changing times and city landscape. The Festival has developed its vision the past 20 years with various locations, new initiatives and more films, and filmmakers. This year we had over a 1,000 submissions. There are more LGBTQ filmmakers making LGBTQ films than ever. With Three Dollar Bill Cinema offices moving into the 12th Ave Arts, we are front and center of a flourishing film and art scene on Capitol Hill.


FREEHELD. Photo credit: Three Dollar Bill Cinema

WF: What are some of the must-sees this year, and what makes the programming team so unique?
J & K:
Our 10 shorts programs that are curated by our programming team are exceptional. Other highlights include the Thrive@5 series: Know Your History; contemporary films about LGBTQ history such as Welcome To This House by Barbara Hammer and Desert Migration about HIV-positive survivors who moved to the desert and thrived. Also, We Came to Sweat: The Legend of Starlite will play and is about the first black-owned gay bar in Brooklyn, NY and its current fight to stay open.

High profile must-sees are the Galas including Freeheld, the Opening Night Gala, and our Closing Night Gala Out to Win which highlights LGBTQ athletes with special guest Dave Kopay (NFL player and UW Huskies) in attendance. Our Centerpieces include Beautiful Something with director Joe Graham and Colman Domingo in attendance, Nasty Baby starring Kristen Wiig, and Portrait of a Serial Monogamist from Toronto director Christina Zeidler in attendance.


NASTY BABY. Photo credit: Three Dollar Bill Cinema

WF: What local films are featured in the festival?
J & K: Must-sees that are local include Drag Becomes Him about celebrity Jinkx Monsoon, Capitol Hill 2 made into a feature by Wes Hurley, and Winning Dad starring and directed by Seattlite Arthur Allen. Additionally, we have The Glamour & The Squalor about the life of Marco Collins who promoted commercial success bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Beck and many others. Marco Collins will be in attendance at the screening! We also have Raven’s Touch – Teatro Zinzani’s aerialist Dreya Weber stars and directed this lesbian drama with star Traci Dinwiddie (who is also in the film Stuff). There are two connections to Seattle in the shorts program – “Movers and Shakers” program has Joani: Queen of the Paradiddle produced by Valerie Agnew (from the band The Gits, and drummer for the band 7 year bitch) who stayed in Seattle for a while. And, Lamott Atkins who is featured in the short The Lives of Lamott Atkins started his career in Seattle and later settled in San Francisco. Both will be at the festival this year.

WF: How do you see film benefiting the LGBTQ community?
J & K: 
The festival is a large movie event that brings together a diverse audience of LGBTQ people and allies who love cinema. What’s better than standing in line at our theaters and seeing people you know and getting to meet people you don’t know yet? We also bring together people who want to get involved by volunteering and becoming an essential part of the operations of a flourishing festival. There are many guests from around the world that attend our screenings and interact with the audience about their creative process, creating a dialogue about LGBTQ film. We bring entertainment, create discussion and bring people together for 11 days of LGBTQ cinema.

WF: In your opinion, why is film important to Washington State?
J & K: 
Washington State has a dynamic arts and culture community. Film is an essential component to this prosperous scene. There is fantastic community support for the many film talents that choose to work in this beautiful state. This is where they make their creative visions happen. Three Dollar Bill Cinema, that promotes the Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival, fits perfectly into this Washington State milieu as it supports the filmmakers, the LGBTQ community, and the dedicated and intelligent audiences that make up the film community.

Washington Filmworks thanks Jason Plourde and Kathleen Mullen for their time and insight. For more information on the Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival, check out their website here! The festival runs October 8-18.