Queer Black Cinema International Film and Music Festival Puts Special Focus On Transgender Films Of Color

September 18, 2008

(New York, NY) Queer Black Cinema International Film and Music Festival will kick off Thursday, October 30th in New York with a night of live acoustic soul music performances by LGBT & LGBT friendly artists.  Festival goers will have a great opportunity to mix and mingle with filmmakers and industry professionals over smooth music and delicious chocolate treats.  The festival will continue Friday, October 31st with the New York and Opening Gala film of Kortney Ryan Ziegler’s “Still Black:  A Portrait of Transmen.” The film is a one-of-a-kind documentary that explores the everyday triumphs and tribulations of Black transmen.  “Still Black” is co-produced by Awilda Rodriguez Lora featuring Kylar Broadus, Carl Madgett, Louis Mitchell, Nicholas Rashad, Jay Welch and Ethan Young. QBC Int’l Film and Music Festival will take place October 30 – November 2nd at the Brecht Forum 451 West Street (between Bank & Bethune Streets), New York, NY 10014.  For more information on volunteering, sponsorship and/or tickets go to www.queerblackcinema.org.

“Still Black:  A Portrait of Black Transmen” is a neo-noir documentary that explores the lives of six Black transgender men living in the US.  Through the personal stories of their lives as artists, students, husbands, fathers, lawyers, and teachers, the film offers viewers a complex and multi-faceted image of race, sexuality, and trans-identity.

Trans theme films are becoming more visible with the new wave of film festivals that are trans centered.  However, people of color trans them fillms are still few far and beyond to exist, particularly films with people of color subjects made by People of Color filmmakers.  Ziegler and co-producer Awilda Rodriguez Lora, have taken on the challenges to use this film as a catalyst heighten the visibility and uniqueness of Black transmen- a group deeded obscure compared to the dominant images of transwomen.

Ziegler is no stranger to the academic arena as well.  She is best known for her “controversial” blog, BLAC (K) ADEMIC.  Currently, a doctoral candidate at Northwestern University, Kortney’s scholarly work focuses on queer performance art and experimental queer cinema.  The intellectual artist highlights and examines the films of Isaac Julien; queer artist, La Performera; hokum blues singer, Gladys Bentley; and drag king extroardinaire, Dred.  Kortney presented at numerous conferences in San Francisco, Santa Cruz and Chicago including screening her past work at Queer Black Cinema’s monthly film series, Frameline, Seattle Transgender Film Festival and Queer Women of Color International Film Festival at the University of Illinois-Chicago.

“Screening ‘Still Black’ is not only an honor for QBC but a necessity.  Many people whether they are a part of the gay and lesbian community or not still do understand fully the difference between sexuality and gender or what it means to experience transphobia and racism.  For some, the only image in film that has any transgender people of color as a reference famous actors and comedians who trade suits for dresses and perform in drag for comedic effect.  Many have misconstrued what it is like to be a transgender person in the real world- not a parody.  Universal 1999 film, “Life” featuring Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence attempts to discuss LGBT issues when the ‘Biscuit’ character played by Miguel A. Nuncey Jr. portrays a gay man (transwoman or dressed as women) who is up for parol but chooses to get himself killed when he tries to escape, fearful of his family acceptance.  Famous mogul, P-Diddy, attempts to include trans people by casting transwoman, Laverne Cox on his reality show,  Some may argue he missed the mark because there were next to no discussion about transphobia and racism which clearly took place on his show and why some people including Cox’s colleagues reacted the way he did during a few of the competition tasks.  However, I applaud Diddy’s efforts to make trans people more visible particularly on a major channel like VH-1.”

“Screening ‘Still Black’ and having Kortney here to present the film shows our commitment to represent the ‘T’ in the LBGTQ community,” proclaims QBC executive director Angel L. Brown.  A panel discussion is scheduled to take place around “Still Black” ad special invited guest on the experiences of being a Transgender of color.

Other films set to screen at the multi-day film festival that are transgender-themed or speak to gender fluidity are Hanifah Walidah’s “U People and Crossing”– a short co-directed by Trans Entities stars, Ignacio Rivera and Khane Morris.

The festival focus lineup includes:  New York premiere and Closing Gala Film “Friends and Lovers” TV series/featured film based on “Ski Trip” directed by award winning filmmaker, Maurice Jamal. Jamal is known for working on hit TV show “The Dave Chapelle Show” as well as writer/director/producer of “Dirty Laundry” featuring Rockmond Dunbar and Loretta Devine.  The four day multi-media festival will pay tribute to LBGTQ youth of color who left us all too soon due to homophobic hate crimes with centerpiece film “Dreams Deferred:  The Sakia Gunn Project” by Chas Brack.  Hit, narrative film, “Truth Hall” by Jaden Dixon is also a Centerpiece that focuses on sisterhood and the drama and deep rooted secrets that go on from college into adulthood.  The film also includes important key issues about Black Women with HIV and will highlight QBC’s annual “Just Be:  The Black Gay Erotica Poetry and Short Film Competition on HIV/AIDS Awareness Prevention.  “Truth Hall” most recently premiered at Urban World Film Festival 2008 and was the opening film at the American Black Film Festival 2008.

Other titles include popular online urban lesbian of color hit web series, “The Lovers and Friends Show” by Charmine Johnson, “Bitch Can’t Get A Date!” featuring radio personality and comedian Keith Price, “Seen, But Not Heard” by award-winning pioneer filmmaker, Cyrille Phipps, QBC’s premier of KIN4Life, “Make Up Girl” music video and many other great music videos, short films and features about and from the Black LGBTQ experience/perspective.

“This year, Queer Black Cinema is premiering a well needed Black LGBTQ film festival in New York outside of the pride festivities.  With the support of the LGBTQ community, we aim to go beyond the average LGBT outreach by challenging and encouraging straight allies, movie goers and professional film critics to not only attend the festival but write about some of the most socially conscious well needed films that highlight the Black LTQ experience as well, “ Queer Black Cinema founder Angel L. Brown states.

All festivities screenings will be held at the Brecht Forum451 West Street (between Bank & Bethune Streets) New York, NY 10014.  For more information on tickets, programming, volunteering or sponsorship opportunities visit the Queer Black Cinema website at www.queerblackcinema.org.

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