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Grey Violet - Odd One Out (Grey Violet - silmätikku) is a documentary about a Russian mother and her gay son, and the challenges he experiences applying for political asylum in Europe. It screens at 1:30 p.m. July 29 at Rice Media Center 2.
Grey Violet - Odd One Out (Grey Violet - silmätikku) is a documentary about a Russian mother and her gay son, and the challenges he experiences applying for political asylum in Europe. It screens at 1:30 p.m. July 29 at Rice Media Center 2.
Film still courtesy of Writer/Director Reeta Aalto

Houston's QFest Entertains With Thought-Provoking New Films and Shorts

One look at this year's QFest line-up and it becomes apparent that mainstream blockbusters are woefully lacking when it comes to variety and plotlines. Instead of CGI enhanced fight scenes that run a little too long, we're being treated to international films that are both entertaining and cerebral.

"I just hope people — when they see these films — it’s great if they love them. It's also OK if they don't. I just don't want them to forget [the films]," says Artistic Director Kristian Salinas. "If they can’t remember the films a year later then we really haven’t done a good job."

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Rice Media Center has the lion's share, showing feature films on the big screen and running documentaries in a more intimate space. It's a creative programming format that allows the festival to air films like Dear Fredy, about a gay athlete in Birkenau who worked within the system to protect, educate and save hundreds of children.

"In the concentration camp he focused on being with children, orphans, setting up opportunities with children to distract them from the horrors of what was going on around them. He had a certain demeanor that the Nazis actually respected that helped him in protecting the children," says Salinas. "He was able to manipulate the Nazis to benefit the children. A large number of the children are still [alive] who remember him as the person who protected them, shielded them."

Seventeen feature films are participating in QFest's first ever juried competition this year, limited to those that have not premiered in Texas and do not yet have theatrical distribution in the United States, as well as a shorts competition. Jurors will select winners, with additional awards being given to audience favorite and a selection by the Houston Film Critics Society.

The reception and awards presentation are scheduled for July 30 at Rice Media Center, followed by a screening of Closing Night: 1985 by Austin-based filmmaker Yen Tan. Salinas says it premiered last year at South by Southwest and is set during the height of the AIDS epidemic. A New Yorker returns home at Christmas to a small town in Texas to say goodbye to his family. "It's a beautiful film. Everybody who has seen the film — regardless of age or orientation — has been moved by the film. That power transcends; it just really touches them in an emotional and meaningful way," says Salinas.

The closest to a mainstream film that we'll see is at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. The Miseducation of Cameron Post, starring Chloë Grace Moretz and Jennifer Ehle, serves as the festival's opener and tells the story of teens sent to a gay conversion therapy center. Although the film, based on the coming-of-age novel by Emily M. Danforth, is set in the early '90s, Salinas cautions that these conversion camps remain a very real problem in this day and age.

Call Me Sis is a beautiful character study of a middle aged woman who has a life crisis. It screens at 7:30 p.m. July 27 at Asia Society Texas Center.
Call Me Sis is a beautiful character study of a middle aged woman who has a life crisis. It screens at 7:30 p.m. July 27 at Asia Society Texas Center.
Film still courtesy of Director Lee Sang-Woo

Asia Society Texas Center is screening a Korean film, Call Me Sis, about a woman who is disrespected and dismissed by her husband and son but who finds love and acceptance in the arms of a younger woman. "The performances are so beautiful. It's remarkably profound in the roles the women play in a patriarchal society; very powerful," says Salinas.

Salinas has been a huge fan of French director Jean-Claude Brisseau and couldn't resist snapping up Tempting Devils, but none of his regular venues can screen in 3D so the 17-and-up film will show at Studio Movie Grill in Pearland. "Because it’s about sexuality, especially from the female perspective, it celebrates sexuality as a physical act and also spiritual," says Salinas. "These women in the film demonstrate different aspects of sexuality; they all come to symbolize the healing component of sexuality when it’s approached spiritually."

Houston Museum of African American Culture is also hosting a British film, Sidney & Friends, about an intersex individual who is threatened and chased away by family but who finds hope and support through a community of transgender survivors.

Salinas gives props to Michael Robinson, his co-artistic director who joined the festival last year, for helping with all the moving parts of this robust line-up. Robinson has been handling the competition shorts program and we'll see his selections at Aurora Picture Show during Do Queers Dream of Neon Sheep? on July 28.

"Queer themes and identities are explored through narrative, documentary, experimental, and animated shorts from around the world, including Michael Robinson's Onward Lossless Follows, Emily Pelstring's Lac de plumes, Val Hidalgo's Bad Bed, Gwenn Joyaux's The Two Halves, Marianna Milhorat's Sky Room, and others."


At press time nothing was booked at Ripcord, one of last year's creative out-of-the-box venues, but Salinas says "maybe." Visit q-fest.com for updates and last minute additions to the program.

The 22nd Annual QFest runs July 26-30 at multiple locations throughout the Houston area; view the full schedule below.

The Story of the Stone is a drama, adapted from a novel of the same name, that explores gay life in Taipei and uncovers a darker side to the region. It screens at 8 p.m. July 28 at Rice Cinema.
The Story of the Stone is a drama, adapted from a novel of the same name, that explores gay life in Taipei and uncovers a darker side to the region. It screens at 8 p.m. July 28 at Rice Cinema.
Film still courtesy of Writer/Director Starr Wu

Thursday, July 26

7:30 p.m., The Miseducation of Cameron Post, (2018, USA, directed by Desiree Akhavan), The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1001 Bissonnet, 713-639-7515, mfah.org/calendar/series/qfest, $8 to $10. Insider tip: Don't miss the 9:30 p.m. after party at Brasil, 2604 Dunlavy.

Friday, July 27

7 p.m., The Heiresses (Las herederas), (2018, Paraguay, directed by Marcelo Marinessi), in Spanish and Guarani with English subtitles, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1001 Bissonnet, 713-639-7515, mfah.org/calendar/series/qfest, $8 to $10.

7 p.m., Reinventing Marvin (Marvin ou la belle éducation), (2017, France, directed by Anne Fontaine), in French with English subtitles, Rice Cinema, 2030 University, 713-348-4853, cinema.rice.edu or vada.rice.edu/events/qfest-rice-cinema, $10

7:30 p.m., Call Me Sis, (2018, South Korea, directed by Lee Sang-Woo), in Korean with English subtitles, Asia Society Texas Center, 1370 Southmore, 713-496-9901, asiasociety.org/texas, $10

9:30 p.m., Kill the Monsters, (2017, USA, directed by Ryan Lonergan), Rice Cinema, 2030 University, 713-348-4853, cinema.rice.edu or vada.rice.edu/events/qfest-rice-cinema, $10

Writer/director Anahita Ghazvinizadeh was a 2013–15 artist in the MFAH Glassell School of Art Core Residency Program. They, about gender identity, is Ghazvinizadeh’s feature debut and screens at 5:30 p.m. July 28 at MFAH.
Writer/director Anahita Ghazvinizadeh was a 2013–15 artist in the MFAH Glassell School of Art Core Residency Program. They, about gender identity, is Ghazvinizadeh’s feature debut and screens at 5:30 p.m. July 28 at MFAH.
Film still courtesy of Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and Luxbox

Saturday, July 28

Noon, The Sign for Love, (2017, Israel, directed by Iris Ben Moshe and Elad Cohen), in Hebrew with English subtitles, Rice Media Center 2, 2030 University, 713-348-4853, cinema.rice.edu or vada.rice.edu/events/qfest-rice-cinema, free. Insider tip: This smaller venue has limited seating.

1 p.m., Señorita María, La Falda De La Moñtana, (2017, Colombia, directed by Rubén Mendoza), in Spanish with English subtitles, Rice Cinema, 2030 University, 713-348-4853, cinema.rice.edu or vada.rice.edu/events/qfest-rice-cinema, $10

1:30 p.m., This Spring (Au printemps tu verras), (2017, France, directed by Nicolas Gerifaud), in French with English subtitles, Rice Media Center 2, 2030 University, 713-348-4853, cinema.rice.edu or vada.rice.edu/events/qfest-rice-cinema, free. Insider tip: This smaller venue has limited seating.

3 p.m., Octavio is Dead!, (2018, Canada, directed by Sook-Yin Lee), Rice Cinema, 2030 University, 713-348-4853, cinema.rice.edu or vada.rice.edu/events/qfest-rice-cinema, $10

5 p.m., Tempting Devils (Que le diable nous emporte), (3D, 2018, France, directed by Jean-Claude Brisseau), in French with English subtitles, Studio Movie Grill, 8440 South Sam Houston Parkway East, Pearland, studiomoviegrill.com/Locations/Texas/Pearland, $12. No one under 17 admitted.

5:30 p.m., They, (2017, USA, directed by Anahita Ghazvinizadeh), The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1001 Bissonnet, 713-639-7515, mfah.org/calendar/series/qfest, $8 to $10.

6 p.m., The Year I Lost My Mind (Jahr des Tigers), (2017, Germany, directed by Tor Iben), in German with English subtitles, Rice Cinema, 2030 University, 713-348-4853, cinema.rice.edu or vada.rice.edu/events/qfest-rice-cinema, $10

7 p.m., Sidney & Friends, (2018, UK, directed by Tristan Aitchison), Houston Museum of African American Culture, 4807 Caroline, 713-526-1015, hmaac.org, free

7:30 p.m., Shorts Program: Do Queers Dream of Neon Sheep?, (93 minutes), Aurora Picture Show, 2442 Bartlett, 713-868-2101, aurorapictureshow.org, free to $10

8 p.m., The Story of the Stone, (2017, Taiwan, directed by Starr Wu), in Mandarin with English subtitles, Rice Cinema, 2030 University, 713-348-4853, cinema.rice.edu or vada.rice.edu/events/qfest-rice-cinema, $10

10 p.m., He Loves Me, (2017, Greece/UK, directed by Konstantinos Menelaou), Rice Cinema, 2030 University, 713-348-4853, cinema.rice.edu or vada.rice.edu/events/qfest-rice-cinema, $10

Air (Luft) is a romantic drama, filmed in Germany and France, that has been described as a cinematic poem about first love. It screens at 4 p.m. July 29 at Rice Cinema.
Air (Luft) is a romantic drama, filmed in Germany and France, that has been described as a cinematic poem about first love. It screens at 4 p.m. July 29 at Rice Cinema.
Film still courtesy of Director/Co-Writer Anatol Schuster

Sunday, July 29

Noon, Dear Fredy, (2017, Israel, directed by Rubi Gat), in Hebrew and Czech with English subtitles, Rice Media Center 2, 2030 University, 713-348-4853, cinema.rice.edu or vada.rice.edu/events/qfest-rice-cinema, free. Insider tip: This smaller venue has limited seating.

1:30 p.m., Grey Violet - Odd One Out (Grey Violet - silmätikku), (2017, Finland, directed by Reeta Aalto), in Russian and Finnish with English subtitles, Rice Media Center 2, 2030 University, 713-348-4853, cinema.rice.edu or vada.rice.edu/events/qfest-rice-cinema, free. Insider tip: This smaller venue has limited seating.

2 p.m., Cracking Nuts, (2018, Turkey, directed by Tolgay Hiçyilmaz), in Turkish with English subtitles, Rice Cinema, 2030 University, 713-348-4853, cinema.rice.edu or vada.rice.edu/events/qfest-rice-cinema, $10

4 p.m., Air (Luft), (2017, Germany, directed by Anatol Schuster), in German with English subtitles, Rice Cinema, 2030 University, 713-348-4853, cinema.rice.edu or vada.rice.edu/events/qfest-rice-cinema, $10

6 p.m., Misty Eyes (Los Ojos Llorosos), (2018, Argentina, directed by Cristián Pellegrini), in Spanish with English subtitles, Rice Cinema, 2030 University, 713-348-4853, cinema.rice.edu or vada.rice.edu/events/qfest-rice-cinema, $10

Monday, July 30

6 p.m., Awards Night reception, Rice Cinema, 2030 University, 713-348-4853

7 p.m., Awards Night presentation, Rice Cinema, 2030 University, 713-348-4853

7:30 p.m., Closing Night: 1985, (2018, USA, directed by Yen Tan), Rice Cinema, 2030 University, 713-348-4853, cinema.rice.edu or vada.rice.edu/events/qfest-rice-cinema, $10

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