The Five Best Films at the CinemaQ Festival

Deep in Vogue follows gay black men in the Manchester Vogue scene.EXPAND
Deep in Vogue follows gay black men in the Manchester Vogue scene.
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While Pride Month is over, Denver's queer festivities certainly are not. From Tuesday, July 16, through Saturday, July 21, the Denver Film Society will host CinemaQ, a celebration of the year's best LGBTQ cinema from around the globe. With a mix of documentaries, narrative movies, short films, receptions, panels and in-person discussions with filmmakers, the festival aims to showcase the diverse perspectives and issues that affect today's queer community.

The festival opens with a July 16 screening of Scream Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street, a documentary about the making of Nightmare on Elm Street's sequel; it will wrap on July 21 with a showing of Circus of Books, a documentary about a straight couple who became one of the largest distributors of gay porn in the U.S.

Here are our top five picks for the festival:

Lucy Lawless in Queering the Script.EXPAND
Lucy Lawless in Queering the Script.

Queering the Script
Wednesday, July 17, 7 p.m.
Queering the Script is a ninety-minute documentary described as "a sparkling celebration of queer fangirls and the shows they love." Including stars like Stephanie Beatriz, Lucy Lawless and Angelica Ross, as well as many queer fangirls, the documentary traces the evolution of queerness in television from coded subtext to plot lines specifically centered around queer relationships. This is a must-see for anyone interested in the importance and impact of accurately representing diverse identities in popular culture. If you're unsure why a film festival like CinemaQ matters, this is the perfect starting point. Make sure to stick around for the post-film in-person discussion with Stephanie Ouaknine, Queering the Script's producer.

Christian Malhieros stars in Socrates.EXPAND
Christian Malhieros stars in Socrates.

Thursday, July 18, 9 p.m.

As one of the festival's foreign picks, Socrates follows a gay teenager living on the margins of São Paulo, Brazil, as he tries to survive on his own following the sudden death of his mother. Shown in Portuguese with English subtitles, Socrates is the debut feature film from Brazilian-American filmmaker Alexandre Moratto, and the first film produced by the Querô Institute, meaning that teenagers from low-income communities in Brazil served as the film's co-writers, producers and actors. Anyone who is sick of seeing queerness represented exclusively by white American men in rainbow crop tops during Pride season should definitely attend this screening.

Shorts Program
Saturday, July 20, 12 p.m.

If you can only attend one event but still want to see as many films as possible, the CinemaQ Shorts Program is your best bet. The program will include seven different short films — six American and one Iranian — ranging from eleven to fifteen minutes in length. With a diverse mix of cultures, cinematic styles and sexual identities represented, this jam-packed showing offers a nice sampling of this year's LGBTQ cinema in one efficient hour-and-a-half-long showing.

A still from Amy Watson and Dennis Keighron-Foster's Deep in Vogue.EXPAND
A still from Amy Watson and Dennis Keighron-Foster's Deep in Vogue.

Deep in Vogue
Saturday, July 20, 9 p.m.

Deep in Vogue is an intimate look at Manchester's Vogue scene from directors Amy Watson and Dennis Keighron-Foster. The documentary follows house mothers and other members of the scene as they get ready to compete in the Machester ICONS Vogue Ball. It explores both the internal and external politics of the Vogue scene, connecting the original 1980s Vogue movement to its modern counterpart. With a focus on queer people of color and how they've carved out a safe space for themselves in the underground ball scene, Deep in Vogue emphasizes just how vital it is for queer people of color to develop their own artistic outlets outside of mainstream popular culture.

Marie-Claire Olivia in Olivia.EXPAND
Marie-Claire Olivia in Olivia.

Sunday, July 21, 12 p.m.

Starring beloved French actresses Simone Simon and Edwige Feuillere, Olivia is a 1951 French film that has been newly restored nearly seventy years after its original release. Simon and Feuillere play rival house mistresses competing to be the students' favorite at a nineteenth-century French boarding school. Olivia, which was also directed by a woman, Jacqueline Audry, is considered a trailblazing feminist film released at a time when homosexuality was still widely criminalized. Though homosexuality is never overtly discussed in the movie, Olivia provides an eye-opening look at how same-sex desire has historically been coded into classic films.

CinemaQ Film Festival runs July 16 to 21 at the Sie FilmCenter, 2510 East Colfax Avenue. Passes for the full series are $75 for members, $90 for non-members; prices vary for individual screenings.

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