The title alone conveys the event's chipper attitude and humor: Movie Dearest, The Baltimore Pride Film Festival. Baltimore Pride and the Creative Alliance will present this three-day salute to "the rich history of queer cinema - old, new, narrative, documentary, campy, cutting edge," Wednesday through Friday.
In an e-mail interview, Kirsten Anchor, director of Creative Alliance MovieMakers (or Camm), says she can barely control her excitement. "I've got to be honest," she writes. "I am a queer filmmaker as well as a film programmer, and I am continuously disappointed by gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender film festivals. ... Often the films are just bad and the programming is just narrow - attractive, half-naked white guys starring in boring films about nothing."
The answer to her own plea - "Give me something different!" - came when Scott Baum and Ron Crognale, the organizers of Baltimore Pride, contacted Anchor, aiming to expand their cultural reach beyond their weekend celebration (June 18 and 19). It was natural for Baltimore Pride to link up with Anchor and Camm.
Creative Alliance in general has been booming, with much of its expansion due to partnerships with organizations like the Community Arts Project. And it's been actively showcasing gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender talent - indeed, the Charm City Kitty Club, a volunteer group within CA, "has become a nationally known cabaret booking international GLBT acts (on the same stage as local GLBT acts)," Anchor continued.
After a single meeting in January, Anchor and Baltimore Pride "forged a partnership to put together this festival, knowing we had very little time ... but also knowing this was a partnership we wanted to build off of." Both CA and Baltimore Pride "drew on our volunteer base to construct the festival committee."
They hoped to create a festival that would be "equally about identity politics, community building and aesthetically sound and interesting films."
And Anchor stresses that last point: "The films need to be good enough to stand on their own without the GLBT tag attached. ... The GLBT community deserves access to diverse voices and well-made films and can handle being challenged. Our main goal was diversity in terms of identity and in terms of form, but not at the expense of quality."
Co-sponsors include Black Pride and the National James Baldwin Literary Society, for Rodney Evans' 2003 feature Brother to Brother, about a gay black college student who time-travels back to the Harlem Renaissance (Evans will serve as host at the screening); Equality of Maryland for Silvie Levey and Pascal Vasselin's 2004 documentary Colonel Jin Xing, about a male colonel in China's People's Liberation Army who in 1995 became a woman, then a mother, and the most renowned modern dancer in Shanghai; and the GLBT Community Center of Baltimore for a face-off between the 1981 camp classic Mommie Dearest and the 2003 attempt to create a camp satire, Die Mommie Die!
"I am most pleased with the way we were able to choose films that would engage very different groups while also being interesting to the casual viewer," says Anchor, who calls it "the best outreach project" she's worked on at CA. "Not to mention that the festival is going to be downright fun and funny at moments! We do know how to have a good time. The short films will be a riot and I don't know if I've ever seen a program like the Who's Your Mommie Battle Royale - ever. It is about the campiest thing I can imagine at the moment."
What follows is a schedule in brief; each full night of programming begins at 6 p.m. Tickets range from $5 to $25.
Call 410-276-1651 or go to www.baltimorepride.org or www.creativealliance.org.
June 1: Querelle, Fassbinder's 1982 gay cinema classic
Party With Bacchus: Vernon Reynolds reception
June 2: Brother to Brother, includes a reception with director Rodney Evans
Lesbian Jokes: Armed and Humorous, shorts presented by Charm City Kitty Club
June 3: The documentary Colonel Jin Xing, about a female modern dancer in Shanghai who had been a male colonel in the People's Liberation Army. Showing with the short Transliteration
Who's Your Mommie Battle Royale Double Feature - Mommie Dearest, Die Mommie Die! - plus VIP reception and Pride filmmaker party.