The local LGBTQ+ film festival celebrates all aspects of queer living, from the bedroom to the boardroom.
Over my time living and loving as a queer trans woman, I’ve always felt that a queer life is one that shouldn’t go unexamined, but rather celebrated. And nothing celebrates queer lives better than Reel Affirmations, the D.C. area’s international LGBTQ+ film festival.
Kicking off on October 20 at their new festival venue Eaton Hotel, Reel Affirmations is The DC Center for the LGBT Community’s 30th annual tribute to the world’s queer filmmakers and presents a round of exceptional works celebrating queer lives like those in the DMV to places as close as Philadelphia or as far as Lagos. The live festival will screen 19 out of 32 films from 22 countries, all of which display queer people across nations and time periods reconciling social, sexual and inherently human issues.
Some standout additions to Reel’s lineup include the 15-minute drama “Safe Word”: an intimate look at kink by D.C. artist Christopher Cunnetto and Mike Donahue’s Troy. The film explores how queer sexuality can exist alongside heteronormativity, rather than against it.
While these films address LGBTQ+ identity through the lens of intimate spaces, other films in Reel Affirmations’ lineup center themselves in a more public forum — politics.
One film whose message rings loud given our current political state is “Kenyatta: Do Not Wait Your Turn,” which is having its D.C. premiere at Reel Affirmations. Focusing on the triumphs and obstacles that encompass North Philadelphia politician Malcolm Kenyatta’s political rise, this film serves as a refreshing reminder of what’s to come in governance: young, queer people taking office.
Other films that focus on queer lives in the socioeconomic sense include “Norwegian Dreams,” a tale of immigration and worker’s rights backdropped by queer identity, reminding viewers that inequality makes no exception and even affects the LGBTQ+ community in profound and unique ways.
Festival goers will even be treated to a screening of a previously lost film, 1979’s “Le Beau Mec,” a French film that laid the groundwork for the queer films we have today.
Reel Affirmations is a clear example of how pluralistic queer art can be and how it can take place in the bedroom, boardroom or even a factory (as seen in “Norwegian Dreams”). Like queer lives themselves, there is no limit to what Reel Affirmations can show the District. All thanks to the incredible team at DC Center and the legacy of pride they’ve laid out over the decades.
Reel Affirmations will be celebrating 30 years of screening at its “Reel Gleeful Celebration” party at the Eaton Hotel on Saturday, October 21 from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. For anyone who is unable to attend the festival in-person, the Reel Affirmations Virtual Film Festival will be presenting 43 films in a viewing window from October 23 to October 29.
Of the 43 films, 26 are exclusively online features not being shown at the live screenings.
Reel Affirmations runs from October 20th to the 22nd. General admission tickets begin at $15 for the live screenings and $10 for the virtual screenings. Get tickets here.