The successor to QFest, the festival formerly known as the Philadelphia Independent Gay and Lesbian Film Festival (PIGLFF), opened last night at the Perlman Theater with the film Such Good People. Two weeks ago I expected Philadelphia wouldn’t have a gay film festival this year. According to producer Thom Cardwell, that was true just two months ago. Will this seedling flourish in the ruin of the economic forest fire that’s decimated film festivals across the country?
Instead of two weeks of films on multiple screens, this will be a long weekend of films at primarily one screen, the Prince Theater. It’s roughly a tenth of the films and even fewer screenings since feature-length films show only once. One festival attendee looking on the bright side said he’s always felt overwhelmed by the magazine-sized program. I didn’t need to break out spreadsheets and algorithms this year: the schedule fits on a single bi-fold pamphlet.
Cardwell called this new festival a labor of love before introducing the opening night film, and it was also largely an act of charity with films even waiving their rental fees. Two months isn’t much time to throw an event like this, and it’s not much time to raise money and sign up sponsors. The results have been a little disorganized; the website was mostly placeholders until very recently, and the social media presence is minimal. I must keep reminding myself that this is not PIGLFF 20.
Since this is a new festival, there is room for it to grow in directions that the established brand perhaps could not. There is a New Media track for instance, although it seems to be competing with the film line-up rather than being integrated into it. There are new faces among the old (a few of which were conspicuously absent last night) which may address concerns the previous festival organizers had about audience age skewing older and older. qFLIX can grow into something unique if it can maintain its own identity and not try to live up to the pride (or perhaps hubris) of its predecessor’s claim to being the third largest gay film festival in the nation.
Given films only show once, I won’t be tweet-reviewing my reviews this year. Instead, I hope to make daily posts that include short reviews of films seen and events attended that day. Opening night only had one film as usual, and I did not attend the also-usual opening night party which was held at Tavern On Camac.
Such Nice People (2/5) — This farce/caper film just didn’t make me laugh. The gags, some mildly amusing on their own, feel forced into the framework of the film’s plot. Some scenes just didn’t work at all, especially the ransom drop-off, because characters need to act in mostly-believable and mostly-consistent ways even in comedies. Another thing hobbling this film is never taking its serious plot elements seriously enough; successful comedies like this can skillfully weave serious and slapstick moments to heighten both. In general and in film, I prefer Ruthless People to Such Nice People.