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Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

Reel Pride is back


Photo courtesy of Reel Pride Film Festival

Gay and lesbian film festival opens its 2010 season

The Reel Pride Gay and Lesbian Film Festival kicked off its 21st year of celebrating gay culture in the Tower district on Wednesday.

“My friend Ken Fries and I started the film festival back in October of 1990,” said Peter Robertson, former Fresno State student and current staff director for the school’s alumni relations. “We were nuts.”

Robertson was a member of United Student Pride, Fresno State’s gay and lesbian club formerly known as Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Student Association.

“Ken wanted to start a film festival, and I co-founded it,” Robertson said. “He picked the movies and arranged the rentals; I booked the rooms and raised some much-needed funds.”

Today, United Student Pride no longer coordinates Reel Pride, but they still participate in the film festival every year.

“We still promote the festival every year at our booth,” said Julia Scott, president of United Student Pride. “It kind of exploded and it’s now its own entity, but we still attend as much as we can.”

The festival, which in its 1990 opening featured 12 films over six days, now features nearly 50 movies including short films over five days.

The festival’s opening film, titled “A Marine Story,” explores one woman’s transition from soldier to civilian as she faces her upcoming discharge from the military for being gay.

Three more films, “The Last Summer of La Boyita,” “We Are The Mods” and “Rivers Wash Over Me” premiered last night.

Most of the films are set to premier this weekend, including two much-anticipated movies. One of the films, “Undertow,” is a critically acclaimed film and won best film of the year at the Sundance film festival. The movie is about two men in a Peruvian village who hide their relationship from the rest of their conservative, traditional town.

One of the most notable films shown at the festival is “Howl,” a film about poet Allan Ginsberg as he deals with the reception of his poem of the same title. The poem was mainly about homosexuality, an unwelcome subject in the conservative 1950s.

“When his poem was first published, Ginsberg had to go up against obscenity charges in a San Francisco courtroom,” said John Carol, director of the Reel Pride Film Festival board. “It was his first poem.”

“Violet tendencies,” a film about a 40-something single woman on the prowl for a mate, is described by festival coordinators as a high-brow comedy applauded by multiple audiences.

The film “Strapped,” is about a male prostitute, and is making its west-coast premier at Reel Pride tonight at 10 p.m. in the Tower Theater.

“It’s one of the bigger movies we’re showing at the festival this year,” said Carol.

Short films will also be featured at the festival, grouped into “Men’s shorts”, which features short films about gay men, and “Women’s shorts,” a collection of short films about lesbian women.

The festivities surrounding the movies included a VIP party before the opening night gala, as well as a Sunday brunch on the last day of the festival.


Photo courtesy of Reel Pride Film Festival

“There are a lot of local clubs hosting social events specifically for Reel Pride,” Carol said. “We expect anywhere between 10 thousand and 15 thousand people to come, but it really depends on the year.”

In a move to entice Fresno State students to come, Reel Pride offers free admission to the first 21 students to enter, and half off the entry price for students entering after the cutoff point.

“It’s been 21 years since Ken and I started that film festival, and it’s still going on,” said Robertson. “Is that crazy or what?”

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