New queer film fest coming to Champaign-Urbana


CHAMPAIGN — SWIRL!, a new queer film festival, will be coming to Champaign’s Art Theater on Sunday, Sept. 29.

From the Facebook event:

SWIRL!, a brand new Queer Film Festival in Champaign-Urbana, will take place on September 29th at the Art Theater. Happening during CU PrideFest 2019, SWIRL! aims to shine a light on Queer filmmakers and celebrate art that is made for queer people, by queer people.

An inspiring selection of short films and feature length films have been curated, with different films and shorts showing at 2pm, 4pm, and 6:00pm – with a main feature film at each show time.

A screening of “Transgeek” is the 4pm headliner, followed by a panel discussion and Q&A with the filmmakers, Kevin McCarthy and Sayer Johnson.

The organizers of SWIRL! Queer Film Festival recognize the importance of seeing our experiences, struggles, and triumphs presented visually with all of the beauty, progress, tragedy, and honesty of this resilient and fragile human experience. Everyone is whole-heartedly invited to explore these diversities on September 29th.

Tickets are $10 general admission for each time block. You can also purchase a full day pass for $35, or $65 for two passes. Proceeds from this festival will go to the Up Center of Champaign County.

This years’ schedule:
2pm: [Shorts] First Day // Sam Did It // Boihood // Heather Has Four Moms
[Feature] Dykes, Camera, Action!

4pm: [Shorts] Magic H8 Ball
[Feature] Transgeek — a discussion and Q&A with the director, Kevin McCarthy and producer, Sayer Johnson, will follow

6pm: [Shorts] We Love Moses // Influence & Pressure
[Feature] Unsettled: Seeking Refuge in America

First Day (dir. Julie Kalceff, 2017) “First Day follows main character Hannah as she finishes primary school and begins her secondary schooling. Hannah experiences all the excitement and fear associated with this transition, but her first day of high school is even more significant: it’s the first day she will wear a girl’s uniform to school and go by her chosen name, rather than the boy’s name she was given at birth”.

Sam Did It (dir. Dominic Burgess, 2018) “ Sam, a morgue employee is having a regular day, up until he realizes he has to perform an autopsy on someone he knows. The patient on his table is the Alfred Molina (expertly played by Alfred Molina), or “always his marry in fuck, marry, kill”. With a sharp sense of humor, Dominic Burgess’ Sam Did It explores the feelings induced by the death of our favorite celebrities by taking us on the emotional roller coaster Sam goes through after losing his idol.”

Boihood (dir. Rhea Bozzacchi, 2017) “Boihood is the story about a group of Bois, getting ready for a party. Maggie, a baby-gay, new to the world of being a handsome lady, wants to impress a girl and turns to her friends for advice, unfortunately all of them have conflicting ideas. “

Heather Has Four Moms (dir. Jeanette L. Buck, 2018) “When Heather decides to lose her virginity for her 15th birthday, Mom’s wife must convince Mom, and Mom’s ex, and Mom’s ex’s partner that it’s time for Heather to have “the talk”. Which mom is ready to help Heather make a big decision? It’s a mother-daughter story. Times four.”

Dykes, Camera, Action! (dir. Caroline Berler, 2018) Lesbians didn’t always get to see themselves on screen. But between Stonewall, the feminist movement, and the experimental cinema of the 1970s, they built visibility, and transformed the social imagination about queerness. Filmmakers Barbara Hammer, Su Friedrich, Rose Troche, Cheryl Dunye, Yoruba Richen, Desiree Akhavan, Vicky Du, film critic B. Ruby Rich, Jenni Olson, and others share moving and often hilarious stories from their lives and discuss how they’ve expressed queer identity through film.

Magic H8 Ball (dir. Dan Hass, 2018) Burned by a cheating boyfriend (and some mild chlamydia) a heartbroken pushover turns to a mysterious Magic 8 Ball for the answers. But as he starts giving into his impulses, he risks his hurt turning into hate—and losing all control.

Transgeek (dir. Kevin McCarthy, 2018) “TransGeek is a documentary exploring the intersection of gender identity and geek culture. We interview people working in science, technology, gaming, science fiction/fantasy, and other geekish pursuits; to give voice to their stories. We explore how people express their authentic selves through geek culture; and how their gender identities have affected their professional development.”

We Love Moses (dir. Dionne Edwards, 2016) “When Ella was twelve, she had her first fight. And when she was twelve, she discovered sex. Now eighteen, Ella reflects on how her obsession with her older brother Michael’s best friend Moses left her with a secret she still carries.”

Unsettled: Seeking Refuge In America (dir. Tom Shepherd, 2019) “UNSETTLED is a feature-length documentary revealing the untold stories of LGBTQ refugees and asylum seekers who have fled intense persecution from their home countries and who are resettling in the U.S. The film follows four new arrivals, each of whom have escaped potential peril in their native countries for being different. They’ve landed in the purported “gay mecca” of San Francisco, yet even there, building a new life in an adopted nation is a precarious undertaking. As new leadership in America continues to restrict immigrants and drastically cut the flow of refugees and asylum seekers, UNSETTLED sheds light on a group about which few people know. What are the costs persecuted immigrants pay for seeking refuge? And how are everyday Americans stepping forward to help those most in need?”

Influence and Pressure (dir. A.J. Christensen, 2015 ) This film was written by two junior high students and chosen by a member of the local filmmaking group “Champaign Movie Makers” to be animated as part of the CU Film Society’s annual Pens To Lens student screenwriting and filmmaking competition. The filmmaker was drawn to this student script because it demonstrated a surprisingly mature view of gender constructs through a “thinking robot” metaphor. It premiered in August 2015 at the Pens to Lens red carpet gala.

Original Art Work by Matt Wiley

The Art Theater is at 126 W. Church St. in Champaign.