Three Dollar Bill Cinema announces the five gala film events for the 22nd Annual TWIST: Seattle Queer Film Festival. This highly anticipated 11-day festival presents over 60 short showcases and feature length film programs at six locations around Seattle. Record attendance is expected and celebrity guests and directors will attend multiple events. For the first time ever, the opening night gala will be at KEXP’s new Gathering Space. The closing night gala is at Il Fornaio inside Pacific Place and themed receptions will follow each of the three centerpiece features. Check twistfilmfest.org for a complete list of guests in attendance and festival films.
Three Dollar Bill Cinema Executive Director Jason Plourde elaborates, “This year’s gala films include an in depth look at one of the queer community’s most beloved writers and important activists, Armistead Maupin. And once we realized we could bookend the festival with Trudie Styler’s star-studded film Freak Show that addresses the contemporary issues facing today’s youth – we knew we had put together one of our biggest and best festivals ever.”
See below for announced highlights of this year’s 22nd Annual TWIST: Seattle Queer Film Festival.
Opening Night Gala
The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin
SIFF Cinema Uptown – Oct. 12, 7:15 p.m.
Jennifer Kroot & Bill Weber; 2017; USA; 91 min.
Co-directors Jennifer Kroot and Bill Weber (previous collaborators on To Be Takei) open the festival with this delightful documentary about Armistead Maupin, one of the world’s most beloved storytellers and creator of Tales of the City. Both poignant and laugh-out-loud funny, this disarmingly frank look at Maupin’s life and work follows his evolution from a conservative son of the Old South into a gay rights pioneer whose novels have inspired millions to claim their own truth. Grant Nelleson’s funky and florid graphics punctuate the gorgeous archival footage and photographs. Endearing interviews with Armistead Maupin, Neil Gaiman, Laura Linney, Olympia Dukakis, Sir Ian McKellen, Amy Tan, and Margaret Cho, add to the narrative.
Closing Night Gala
AMC Pacific Place – Oct. 22, 7:00 p.m.
Trudie Styler; 2017; USA; 91 min.
Legendary club kid James St. James’s young adult novel Freak Show was an ode to all things Gaga, Mercury and Wilde. First time director Trudie Styler gives life to this delightfully amusing coming-of-age feature. Her personal connections (Styler is married to Sting) undoubtedly played a role in securing Alex Lawther (The Imitation Game) as Billy Bloom, Abigail Breslin (Scream Queens) as Lynette and a list of cameos that include Laverne Cox (Orange Is the New Black) as an anchorwoman, Bette Midler as Billy’s inspirational mother, and John McEnroe as a screaming coach (of course).
When Billy decides to run for homecoming queen, despite hordes of conservative classmates at his high school devoted to football and Jesus, nothing will stop his wardrobe and sense of style from being utterly fabulous. Billy is no stranger to bullying, but just when he feels the most deserted, star football player Flip (Ian Nelson) befriends him in an effort to ease the harassment. A reluctant alliance with Blah Blah Blah (AnnaSophia Robb, The Carrie Diaries) further dispels his isolation. This story reminds us that community is to be cherished, and that each and every one of us has a significant role to play in its creation.
SIFF Cinema Egyptian – Oct. 15, 7:00 p.m.
Damon Cardasis; 2017; USA; 81 min.
In this Glee-ful coming-of-age musical, Ulysses (dynamic newcomer Luka Kain) struggles to come to terms with the reality of a dismal home life with his bigoted aunt Rose (Regina Taylor). The limits placed on him by a religious upbringing only serve to heighten the vibrant, joyful queerness of his internal world, glimpses of which slowly expand as Ulysses comes to know himself and reframe his relationship with his family. Ulysses finds refuge in Saturday Church, a weekly community space run by a street-smart volunteer (Kate Bornstein). Newfound friends and queens of the New York City piers give Ulysses a platform and welcoming environment. Voguing competitions with gender-bending outfits, bursts of rose petals, and kaleidoscopic visuals show us that the heart of the performer is what makes a powerful performance.
SIFF Cinema Egyptian – Wednesday, Oct. 18, 7:00 p.m.
Pouria Heidary Oureh; 2016; Armenia; 80 min.; in Armenian and English with English subtitles
Queer cinema so infrequently originates in Middle Eastern countries, which makes this rare feature a fortunate blessing for audiences here in the United States. This intentional and beautifully crafted feature makes a triumphant return after screening at the 2017 Translations: Seattle Transgender Film Festival. Aram, an Iranian-Armenian transmasculine youth who immigrated to the United States in childhood, travels to Armenia for the first time to propose to a girlfriend Aram met and lived with in America. Aram encounters many cultural, religious, and national differences on the 24-hour trip, but even harder obstacles lie ahead: finding acceptance by getting the blessing and approval of those who must transcend their culture.
This is a story of family, faith, brotherhood, and love. It’s a moving reflection on the themes of secrecy and identity, as well as an intricate example of the endurance and complications that permeate conservative religious expectations.
AMC Pacific Place – Friday, Oct. 20, 6:45 p.m.
Robin Campillo; 2017; France; 140 min.; in French with English subtitles.
A blaring air horn signals an immediate sense of urgency at the start of writer-director Robin Campillo’s epic, heart-wrenching love story of courageous, resilient people who fought for our very existence. Based on his life as an ACT UP activist in the early ’90s, Campillo draws on his personal relationships and experiences fighting pharmaceutical companies for the release of new life-saving protease inhibitor drugs against the backdrop of fear and indifference from the general public and government. Its exquisitely crafted finale left journalists in stunned silence at the Cannes Film Festival and was the winner of the Grand Prix, Queer Palm, and Film Critics’ Awards.
SaturGay Morning Panel: Queers & Women in Comics
SIFF Cinema Egyptian – Saturday, Oct, 14, 12:15 p.m.
Learn about trailblazers doing amazing work to shift the climate in the superhero and online comic universe, including our own local transgender webcomic personality Jesska Nightmare! Have your media literacy lenses packed and ready to investigate the intersectionality of comics and film, particularly considering recent exciting developments of the Wonder Woman phenomena.
Panelists include: Tatiana Gill (Moderator and Seattle cartoonist), Roberta Gregory (LGBT comics creator since the mid ‘70s), Isabella Price (comics creator and filmmaker), and Jessica Nightmare (writer, illustrator and cartoonist).
How to be a Trans Ally
Northwest Film Forum – Thursday, Oct. 19, 5:00 p.m.
FREE: Open to All
Are you new to transgender concepts? Join us for a screening of Genderize (Audience Award winner for Best Documentary Short, Translations 2017) in which three young siblings share their thoughts on gender. Four years later, they exhibit a more developed perspective, exploring privilege, sexism, puberty, and parenting.
Following the screening, join an open discussion facilitated by Aidan Key, director of Gender Diversity and founder of the Gender Odyssey conference. Bring your questions to this educational evening: gain a working vocabulary, more understanding of gender-nonconforming folks, and tools for allyship…then make your way across the hall for Trans Shorts!
Tickets for the Opening Night Gala are $33; the Closing Night Gala are $20; Centerpiece films are $15; festival passes run between $85- $240; and regular screening tickets are $11 ($8 for members, $9 for people with disabilities, youth under 21 & seniors over 65). Reserve tickets ahead of time – they are $2 more per price point at the door. Purchase tickets here.