QFlix 2014 returned to the Perlman Theater for its awards, farewells, and final film. Festivities continued afterwards at the Sofitel, but sadly without me. I do feel at least a little fested, but QFlixPhilly 2015 can’t come soon enough.
This year only jury awards were given. Not surprisingly, the musical I didn’t see won. What was a surprise is the short by Casper Andreas won its category, and even more surprisingly I agree. Rob Williams, the director of the closing night film was given the festival’s first artistic achievement award which was an all-glass affair that fortunately didn’t tumble to the floor for lack of a podium or extra hands.
A 2015 festival will likely introduce audience awards (Yay, more for me to disagree with!) but perhaps only via electronic ballot. While I would love to be able to schedule electronically, there is a sentimental physicality I’d miss if paper ballots are completely eliminated. If magazine-quality programs and dealing with paper ballots is the difference between having a festival or not, I suppose I’ll get over it. Perhaps that even creates a way for me to contribute to the production of the festival without having to give up the uninterrupted enjoyment of it.
The post-film Q&A took an unexpected turn towards the end as people started directing questions at Thom Cardwell about the state of QFest, its relationship to QFLix, and the future of both. Cardwell was diplomatic and kept it fact-based regarding QFest and TLA which “got” the gay festival in its break-up with what is now PFS. Given how scant those facts are, we were all left wondering what the future of gay film in Philadelphia will be.
Out To Kill (2/5)
An homage to mystery/thrillers, Out To Kill falls into a few traps common to the genre and to gay indie film–and to the previously-screened A Dark Place. The genre demands a tighter plot and better balance between show and tell (and explain). The cast is all over the place, and most of the dialog throughout the film doesn’t feel natural. This may be a logistical consequence of a nine-day shoot or direction issues given Tiger Orange lead Mark Strano turns in a much less impressive performance here than the other film. There are some nicely quirky moments, and nothing here would stop me from seeing festival-regular Williams’s next film.
A Last Farewell (5/5)
I can’t say I’ve been a huge fan of Casper Andreas’s other works, but this short about a gay widower coming to terms with his husband’s death is a surprising and welcome stretch for Andreas. Made in his home country of Sweden with established local talent helps. This is a serious, tight piece; I wonder if the constraint of the short form gave Andreas the focus some of his full-length features have lacked.
Perhaps like his subjects, Andreas has matured in his art–and in his person! He has been enough of a regular attendee at our festivals that it feels like I’ve watched him grow up over the years, and the years are being kind to him.
His next film, Kiss Me, Kill Me is also in the mystery/thriller genre which this year has proven to be a challenging endeavor. Although portrayed this year as a new direction in gay Indie film, it’s not. I’d suggest looking back at the Stachey films of the mid 2000s for both prior art and inspiration. Then look further back to 1998 festival favorite of mine, Hard, which apparently I can watch for free through Amazon Prime. After turning down the lights. And making some popcorn that is. And getting out the handcuffs!