co-written by David Hudson
Do you love queer arthouse and short films? If you do, then that’s a great reason to coincide a visit to a city with its local film festival. Get your fill of culture, hang out with fellow movie buffs and queer filmmakers, and purchase the obligatory T-shirt or tote bag.
There are literally dozens of queer film festivals running around the world. Below are some fan favorites.
BFI Flare: London LGBTQ+ Film Festival
BFI Flare: London LGBTQ+ Film Festival is the name for what was formerly the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival. Last year’s event had over 50 movies and documentaries and almost as many shorts, along with associated talks, Q&S and club events. It runs for ten days at London’s iconic Southbank art center. Each year the festival runs in March, and the tickets usually go on sale in late February.
Toronto is famous for its movie and TV production, as as such the city hosts several very important film festivals, including two LGBTQ film festivals. The oldest, dating back to 1991, is the Inside Out Film Festival, which is Canada’s largest queer film festival, and it will have plenty of top-rated films lined up for its anniversary year, as well as some great parties. Inside Out runs in May of each year. Toronto’s other annual gathering for movie buffs is the Toronto Queer Film Festival, which will be back in November.
Iris Prize LGBT+ Film Festival
The Iris Prize Film Festival in Cardiff may be one of the smaller festivals on this list, but it stands out for being the world’s only queer film festival dedicated to shorts. The highlight of the festival is the naming of the annual winner of the Iris Prize for best short, with the winner pocketing £30,000 ($39,000). Last year’s prize was won by director Sarah Smith for Black Hat, a drama set within LA’s Hasidic community. Iris Prize runs each October.
KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival
India’s best-known queer film festival, Kashish takes place at two venues in Mumbai. Since launching in 2010, it has grown to become South Asia’s biggest LGBTQIA+ film festival. Expect between 100+ films at a festival that attracts Bollywood insiders and queer film lovers from around the globe. This festival runs each May.
As would be expected from a film festival hosted in one of the world’s leading entertainment hubs, Outfest attracts some of the best talent in the US, as well as plenty of world premieres and exclusives. You can expect something in the region of 200 features and shorts, along with the annual Outfest awards and plenty of industry networking events. This event runs each July, with a lovely opening night party that is held outdoors.
Queer Screen Mardi Gras Film Festival
Queer Screen Mardi Gras Film Festival is just another reason to head to Sydney in mid-February. It takes place in the run-up to the annual Sydney Lesbian and Gay Mardi Gras. Taking place next month, most the schedule has already been announced, with screenings this year including local romance Ellie & Abbie, comedy The Shiny Shrimps, lesbian vampire drama Bit, quirky documentary Circus of Books, and cult classics like German’s Taxi Zum Klo. A month later, it’s followed by the Melbourne Queer Film Festival, which will be celebrating its 30th year from March 12-22, 2020.
OutShine LGBTQ Film Festival Miami
OutShine LGBTQ FIlm Festival, formerly known as the Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, is an industry leader in introducing films from Latin America and Spain. With most of the screenings in South Beach, this is an popular film festival for locals and tourists who get to enjoy spectacular indie films in a great location. OutShine in Miami is hosted each April, near the date of Miami Beach Pride. OutShine also screens a film festival in Fort Lauderdale, later in the year.
Miz Brazil is one of the biggest queer film festivals in South America. It’s also one of the most financially accessible festivals – as the festival is generously supported by the Associação Cultural Mix Brasil, a non-profit organization which seeks to promote the freedom of expression of sexual diversity, tickets have been free for all to attend. MixBrazil is hosted in November.
Durban Gay & Lesbian Film Festival
South Africa is a beautiful destination, and not only because of Cape Town. The city of Durban, a few hundred miles east, has gorgeous beaches, water warm enough to swim, and a thriving arts scene that has boasted various film festivals since the 1970’s, when censorship was the law under apartheid. The Durban Gay & Lesbian Film Festival has been showcasing films since 2009, and features a selection of international films as well as South African films about the gay and trans experience. The festival runs each October.
Long before movie theaters would show films with gay or trans stories, and before Netflix existed, there were companies in Philadelphia that sold independent gay and trans films directly to consumers, sending them through the mail. Philadelphia became a hub for gay and trans films, and that led to the creation of one of the first LGBTQ film festivals in the U.S., way back in the 1980’s, which was a controversial event for its time. The current festival, qFLIX, is now one of the largest and most prestigious festivals of its kind in the world, supporting the queer film industry and the experience of enjoying films in theaters. Films are shown at Suzanne Roberts Theatre & University of the Arts. This festival runs each March.