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New LGBT Film Festival Brings Independent Shorts and Full-Length Films to Houston

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Queer Hippo International will be April 1–3.
By B. Root

On April 1 through 3, the first annual Queer Hippo International will take place at the Houston Museum of African American Culture.

Presented by Qwest Films Network, Queer Hippo is a celebration of LGBT cinema that seeks to bring together authentic stories and audacious audiences for its annual showcase of original documentaries, films, teleplays, music videos, animations, and shorts. According to their website, the mission of Queer Hippo is “to show people we are more alike than we are different. We aim to offer a space where queer artists can come together and showcase their works, and audiences can come and enjoy a fresh, diverse perspective in cinema.”

The festival will be screening a wonderful lineup of independent films, such as: In the Grayscale, MAJOR!, and Oriented.

In The Grayscale
In The Grayscale

Kicking off Queer Hippo on opening night will be In the Grayscale. The directorial debut of Claudio Marcone, In the Grayscale follows Bruno (Fransisco Celhay), an architect who’s currently separated from his wife, Soledad (Daniela Ramirez), as he begins exploring his unresolved bisexuality. When Bruno is hired to design a public monument and comes into contact with Fernando (Emilio Edwards), a gay Santiago historian who is to be his city guide as he sets about his commission, Bruno finds himself attracted to Fernando. What ensues between the two men is both a romance and ideological debate about the nature of sexuality. For Fernando, homosexuality is a black-and-white concept; but for Bruno, it’s not that simple.

MAJOR!
MAJOR!

One documentary the festival will be screening is the newly-released MAJOR! Directed by Annalise Ophelian and StormMiguel Florez, MAJOR! explores the life and campaigns of Miss Major Griffin-Gacy, a formerly incarcerated black transgender elder and activist who has been fighting for the rights of trans women of color for 40 years. A veteran of the Stonewall Riots and a survivor of Attica State Prison, Miss Major is known as “Mama” to many within her community. Miss Major is a fierce advocate for trans women of color who have survived police brutality and incarceration in men’s jails and prisons. As the film’s website proclaims, MAJOR! is more than just a biographical documentary: “It’s an investigation into critical issues of how the Prison Industrial Complex represents a widespread and systematic civil rights violation, as well as a historical portrait of diverse LGBT communities, told with love and humor, and personalized through the lens of a vibrant and charismatic woman.”

Oriented
Oriented

Another documentary that will be shown during Queer Hippo is Oriented. An official selection of NewFest and Los Angeles Film Festival, Oriented is an intricate look into the lives of three gay Palestinian friends exploring their national and sexual identities in Tel Aviv during the Israel-Gaza conflict of 2014. Khader is from a prominent Muslim mafia family and lives with his Jewish boyfriend. Fadi is a passionate Palestinian nationalist who finds himself falling in love with an Israel “Zionist.” Naeem is a descendant of a small northern village who must confront his family with the truth of his sexuality. Determined to change their reality in the face of a seemingly hopeless situation, the three friends form a nonviolent, cultural resistance group called “Qambuta” that fights for gender and national equality. Through their activism, they address what it means to exist with the burden of a multifaceted identity.

Among these feature films, Queer Hippo will also be showing The Revival: Women and The Word and the closing night film Suicide Kale, as well as national and international short films. The festival will also be presenting awards for the films that honor the best directing, cinematography, screenwriting, music video, and animation.

What: Queer Hippo International LGBT Film Festival
When: April 1–3
Where: Houston Museum of African American Culture
Tickets and Details: queerhippo.com

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B. Root

B. Root is a frequent contributor to OutSmart Magazine.

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