Five virtual selections from the Seattle Queer Film Festival – Blogtown

RuPaul’s Drag Raceby BeBe Zahara Benet stars in Be BeBe at this year’s Seattle Queer Film Festival. Be BeBe


Editor’s Note: A version of this article originally appeared on our Seattle-based sister website, The foreigner. Because streaming access for this festival is available to everyone in the Pacific Northwest, we are sharing the virtual choices here. Sliding-scale tickets start at $ 15.

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The Three Dollar Bill Cinema’s 26th Annual Seattle Queer Film Festival kicks off this week, and my word does it have a fabulous series of films. Running October 14-24, there is a diverse lineup of films ranging from documentaries to narrative feature films and imaginative short film packages. All, of course, queer.

This year’s festival features a hybrid of virtual screenings and in-person screenings at some of Seattle’s best theaters. Lucky PNW moviegoers in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska can access this digital programming, unless otherwise specified that a selection is an exclusive in-person screening. There will also be plenty of live Q&A on the Seattle Queer Film Festival Facebook page and the T hree Dollar Bill Cinema YouTube channel.

Here are some of the films we look forward to at this year’s festival.


Opening night: American potato dreams
United States, 2021, 95 min., Dir. Wes hurley

It's Jesus!

It’s Jesus! American potato dreams

A locally shot and shot film that has premiered at SXSW, Seattle International Film Festival and North Bend Film Festival, American potato dreams is a deeply personal family story. In a sign that he’s someone to watch out for, writer-director Wes Hurley recreates how he came to America with his mother from the Soviet Union when she was mail-order bride. The film is divided into two parts both in style and in time. The first sees Hurley growing up in a frame framed like a darkly absurd room, with Jesus Christ serving as an imaginary friend. The second part portrays a more grounded life in Seattle, with Hurley struggling to find himself in strict family management with a controlling hand from his stepfather. The way the pieces fit together, including an unexpected reveal about her new family, is adorable. Everything flows with a lively tone that masks a captivating story of growing up and finding your way. One of the funniest films at the festival, it’s working within budget to spawn a compelling piece that represents what independent cinema can be.
(Buy streaming access here.)


Table’s center : Be BeBe
United States, 2021, 93 min., Dir. Emily branham

Baby on Baby.

BeBe on BeBe. Be BeBe

A smart, collaborative look at the person Marshall behind the drag performer who was crowned the winner of Season 1 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Be BeBe traces the journey of an icon with a compassionate eye. The film wears on its sleeve that it is a documentary filmed during the pandemic, unfolding like an extended virtual conversation between the filmmaker and the subject. It mostly contains archival footage and interviews that reveal Marshall’s upbringing, but with an extra layer on the way. We watch with Marshall, who offers commentary, both humorous and insightful, on the current documentary. Taking the audience through an early education in Cameroon through the experience of breaking into the American scene and being widely acclaimed, this is a comprehensive look at Marshall / BeBe that touches the reality of how Cameroon criminalizes homosexual and transgender people. It is a documentary as alive as its subject.
(Buy streaming access here.)


Tove
Finland, 2020, 150 min., Dir. Zaida Bergroth, in Swedish and Finnish with English subtitles

Tove focuses on the creator of Moomins.

Tove focuses on the creator of Moomins. Tove

A film that breaks the conventions of a biopic, Tove rises above other works of this hackneyed genre, with outstanding foreground performances and rich staging, all come together to create a loving portrait of acclaimed artist, author and illustrator Tove Jansson. Best known for creating the Moomins’ beloved comic book characters, Jansson is portrayed here as a multi-faceted vision, played with quiet gravity by Alma Pöysti. The film follows her life from the war in the mid-1950s, but her relationship with Vivica Bandler (Krista Kosonen) is at the heart of the film. I thought each image was fascinating.
(Buy streaming access here.)


See you later
United States, 2021, 74 min., Dir. Husband walker

Kris and Naomi.

Kris and Naomi. See you later

A humble film made with care, See you later is a moving journey to revisit the old parts of your life, and it finds expansion in writer-director Mari Walker’s dedication to her characters. Kris Ahadi (Pooya Mohseni) and Naomi Liu (Lynn Chen) meet after their relationship ended abruptly a decade ago. Kris has also made the transition since breaking up with Naomi. The two have gone in very different directions in their lives, almost feeling like strangers to each other. But they still have a connection. Mohseni and Chen expertly play their characters, perfectly capturing the feeling of people whose drunken confessions let sober thoughts escape. I found the ending surprising and sad.
(Buy streaming access here.)

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Jump, darling
Canada, 2020, 90 min., Dir. Phil connell

RIP Cloris.

RIP Cloris. Jump, darling

A sentimental film that presents one of the last performances of the legendary Cloris Leachman, this delicate drama leads with a confident hand. It focuses on Thomas Duplessie as Russell, an aspiring actor turned drag queen who, fresh out of a breakup, returns home to be with his grandmother in his small town. Margaret de Leachman, who passes by Gran often, is in her old age and worried about being put in a house. Just as Russell tries to figure out what he wants his future to be, Margaret faces what his end will look like. It is their central relationship that gives the film its beating heart. Tragedy surrounds the film, but in the midst of it all there are some outstanding drag performances.
(Buy streaming access here.)


For a rundown of the full film lineup and more, head over to the festival’s calendar of events here.

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In person at the Clinton St. Theater 10/29 and 10/30


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Darcy J. Skinner

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