USD Hosts the Queer Film Festival

Krista Pinyan – Contributor

Last Thursday, Feb. 25, marked the first showing of the Queer Film Festival here at the University of San Diego. The first film that was shown was “Pariah”. “Pariah” is a story of a 17-year-old African American woman in Brooklyn struggling to embrace her identity as a lesbian.

Although the showing has passed, fortunately, “Pariah” isn’t the only film in this festival. This Thursday, March 3, there will be a showing of “Tangerine”, a 2015 comedy-drama, that follows the adventures of a transgender sex worker in Los Angeles.
So the real question is, why should we be interested in attending the showings of these films?

According to Jillian Tullis, assistant professor of communication studies, these films will teach offer USD students a different perspective on relationships and love, something unique that many may not be used too. Tullis urges her students in her interpersonal communication class to engage in these films in order to try and learn the ways in which particular forms of communication influences how we relate to one another.

“I like for my students to see relationships that might, on the surface, appear different from their own,” Tullis said. “In the case of the Queer Film Festival, mediated representations are a very powerful tool to shape our thinking and beliefs. We can see how alike we are, but also develop empathy for others.”

Professor Tullis has already seen two of the three films that are being screened at this year’s festival, “Pariah” and “Tangerine”. She admits that these films narratives are excellent and they encouraged her to think more about the experiences of teens who are grappling with their sexuality.

“I want my students to be exposed to the experiences of all people, including those who are sometimes marginalized or othered,” Tullis said. “The Queer Film Festival creates the space to do that and to learn about communication while fostering the inclusion of the diverse voices that make our local and global communities so special and unique.”

This is the second year that PRIDE is putting on the festival, which is held as a part of a series of events in conjunction with PRIDE’s Celebration of Gender Expression: Supreme Drag Superstar.

Evelyn Kirkley, advisor for PRIDE and director of the women’s and gender studies program, hopes that the audience will take away new ways of understanding sexuality, and gender, as intersected with race, ethnicity, identity, and socio-economic class status.

“The theme of the Queer Film Festival and Supreme Drag Superstar this year is intersectionality,” Kirkley said. “I hope that after viewing these films, students can ask questions like, how is our identity comprised of many separate identities, often based on factors we have no control over? And how are those identities viewed in our society?”

The films shown during the Queer Film Festival are chosen by USD English Studies professor Ivan Ortiz along with Languages and Literature professor Martin Repinecz. The two instructors offer diverse perspectives on sexuality, gender identity, and gender expression. There are both narrative and documentary films, but most are independent films that received limited release.

There have yet to be films submitted by students or staff from USD, however if someone has a film they’d want to submit they are encouraged to email Kirkley.

For those of you who may need a movie break after returning home from the mayhem at Mango Deck during Spring Break, you are in luck.

On March 31, Hedwig, a comedy-musical about an East German rock singer released back in 2001, looks at the complexity associated with gender identity, stardom, and of course, looking for love.

All of these films will take place in The Hahn University Center room 119, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Along with the next upcoming showings of films, the fifth annual PRIDE Celebration of Gender Expression: Supreme Drag Superstar will be held on Thursday, April 14 at 7 p.m. in Shiley Theater.

Films, specifically addressing topics of sexual orientation and gender identity, attempt to create open and honest dialogue. The purpose is to allow people to better understand relationships that may not be familiar to their own.

Showing the Queer Film Festival and having an after film discussion promotes diversity and communication among students, faculty, and staff at USD. This furthers the desire and intent to reinforce an inclusive environment where everyone feels welcome.