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Caroline Burke / Gavel Media

Boston's Wicked Queer Film Festival Promotes Needed Representation

After a two year COVID hiatus, Wicked Queer: Boston’s LGBTQ+ Film Festival returned in-person to three theaters in the city on top of hosting virtual screenings. 

The 2022 festival, which ran from April 7 through the 17th, held screenings at the Brattle Theater in Cambridge, the Institute of Contemporary Art, and the Bright Family Screening Room at the Emerson Paramount Center. The virtual showings will continue through the end of “#Gaypril” until April 30th, and each screening will have an online encore on their streaming website. The festival featured both tailored compilations of shorts as well as full length films, all of which encompass a wide range of queer narratives. The compiled shorts put together a host of inclusive stories, some organized by gender identity, religion, or race, and all of which can allow audience members to feel their representation on screen. 

Wicked Queer, the fourth oldest LGBTQ+ film festival in North America, was founded in 1984 by Boston filmmaker George Mansour. The organization is entirely volunteer based and dependent on ticket sales and donations. On their website, they write, “Our mission is to build community and to celebrate Queer storytelling and filmmaking through the uplifting of voices and stories not yet heard and to present and preserve the vibrancy of our histories.” An amplification of these narratives is needed in the art scene of any community but especially in Boston, where the queer community doesn’t always feel as present as it might in other cities. 

A friend of mine tagged along with me for the festival’s showing of six compiled shorts titled “Women’s Shorts: Women Rule the World” at the Paramount Center on April 9th. The shorts–titled “Noor and Layla,” “CC Dances the Go-Go,” “Static Space,” “This is Katherine,” “Play,” and “Abby and Emily go to Palm Springs”–fluctuated between tender dramas, animated comedies, and eerie, slow-paced thrillers. The characters in all of the stories were either women or non-binary and a majority of the directors were women, which allowed for relatability among what was an audience of mostly women. Such relatability took the form of self-deprecating, borderline homophobic jokes in “CC Dances the Go-Go” and “This is Katherine,” which connected the audience in their laughter. The most visually beautiful in its colors and frame, “Noor and Layla” told the story of two Muslim women falling in love in a creative reverse-chronological structure that paralleled the five calls to prayer of Islam. 

The end of the screening was followed by a vote for each audience member’s favorite of the shorts–I was partial to “CC Dances the Go-Go” for its laughs. It was also refreshing to be exposed to small-scale productions that aren’t circulated in the same way high-budget blockbusters are. These smaller films capture a tender humanity that typically gets lost in the million dollar productions we watch on streaming services or in theaters. Such was the case for these shorts and the festival as a whole; they have clearly chosen some compelling and important pieces.

With a student culture of strong heteronormativity, Boston College can feel suffocating at times for many students here. Sure, a new LGBTQ+ resource center may be coming to our campus next year in the revamped BAIC, but this lackluster lumping together of AHANA students and LGBTQ+ students isn’t a constructive step in the right direction. For BC to respond to the pleas of queer students for so long by merely grouping them with other underrepresented students here is thoughtless. A lack of both physical space and resources, on top of a heteronormative student body, creates challenges and a sense of alienation for many LGBTQ+ students. It’s important to create spaces where LGBTQ+ students feel included and valued, and art events like Wicked Queer can help us to escape BC's heteronormative bubble. Coordinate a cozy virtual screening in your dorm with a group of friends, and celebrate films of the LGBTQ+ community.

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Lover of goat cheese, the Coolidge Corner Theater, & songs with brass instruments