Seattle Queer Film Festival Returns for 26th Year

Wednesday September 15, 2021

'Potato Dreams of America' will be the opening Film of this year's SQFF
'Potato Dreams of America' will be the opening Film of this year's SQFF  

The following is a press release from the Seattle Queer Film Festival:


Three Dollar Bill Cinema has announced the gala and spotlight screenings for the forthcoming 26th annual Seattle Queer Film Festival, taking place October 14-24.

The largest festival of its kind in the Pacific Northwest will be a hybrid of both virtual and in-person screenings at various venues, including: The SIFF Egyptian, Northwest Film Forum, the Erickson, Broadway Performance Hall, the Museum of Pop Culture, and Ark Lodge Cinemas. Early-bird discounted passes go on sale Friday, September 3; regular passes and tickets go on sale September 16).

And on September 12, Three Dollar Bill Cinema will present a preview event, highlighting special films from its 2021 program and celebrating its volunteers, donors, sponsors, and community partners. It will feature live entertainment from Audra Boo and others, as well as food and drink built around a speakeasy theme.

The 26th annual Seattle Queer Film Festival will be comprised of 55 programs, including narrative features, documentaries, short film programs, panel discussions, workshops, and companion Q&As with filmmakers, producers, and film subjects.

Audiences will be able to attend in-person screenings and events throughout the festival, as well as enjoy programming from the comfort of their homes. There's something for everyone, no matter one's comfort level with returning to in-person events. Also, in an effort to keep all of our events as safe as possible, all in-person attendees will be required to show proof of vaccination and wear a mask during all festival events.

"Our goal is to create an inclusive and supportive environment for all members of our community," said Billy Ray Brewton, Three Dollar Bill Cinema's new managing director. "This extends to the safety our audience feels when they're 'in our hands,' so to speak. The health and safety of our audiences and supporters is of paramount importance to us, and everything we've done in 2021 is to ensure that folks have an amazing time, in the most comfortable way possible."

This year's gala screenings are all Pacific Northwest in-person premieres. Opening the festival is "Potato Dreams of America," the new feature film from Seattle's own Wes Hurley, about a young Russian boy and his mother adjusting to life in the United States. Closing the festival is the documentary "Fanny" The Right to Rock," the riveting true story of one of the most important (and sadly, forgotten) all-women rock bands in music history, revered by everyone from Bonnie Raitt to the late David Bowie. The festival's centerpiece film, "Being Bebe: The Bebe Zahara Benet Documentary," chronicles the story of BeBe Zahara Benet, who went from performing at Minneapolis Pride to being crowned the winner of season one of "RuPaul's Drag Race."

"For our 25th anniversary last year, we bravely pivoted and launched two successful virtual festivals," said SQFF Festival Director Kathleen Mullen. "In 2021 we are ready to step up to a hybrid model, with virtual screenings and workshops available in the U.S. Pacific Northwest, and in-person screenings at Seattle venues. The program is fun, social issue oriented, and full of dramedy that will surprise and shake you up!"

Additional spotlight screenings will include "Jump, Darling," a heartwarming and hilarious story of a drag queen who returns home to live with his elderly grandmother, featuring the final screen performance of the great Cloris Leachman; Lauren Hadaway's "The Novice," an award winner out of Tribeca that focuses on a young rower who rises through the ranks of her school's team; and "Death and Bowling," in which a transgender actor struggles with what it means to be seen, after the beloved captain of his bowling league dies and a mysterious stranger shows up at the funeral.

Three Dollar Bill Cinema's championing of and commitment to local films and filmmakers is on full display throughout this year's program as well, including: "Yes I Am: The Ric Weiland Story," a documentary by local Seattle filmmaker Aaron Bear about the second employee of Microsoft, whose personal life threatened to unravel all the amazing work he'd done as a programmer and philanthropist featuring Zachary Quinto; and "Hetero," from local filmmakers KJ Kieras and Bentley Eldridge, about a group of kids who band together to save their beloved Gay-Straight Alliance. In focusing on both the past and future of Seattle creatives, Three Dollar Bill Cinema hopes to showcase the broad, diverse talent in the city.

Audiences will have an opportunity to preview these films plus many others at the 26th Annual SQFF Preview, a speakeasy-themed event on September 12 at The Rhino Room. From 5 to 6 pm, guests will be invited to enjoy sponsored alcohol tastings and delicious hors d'oeuvres, and mingle with all the amazing people who have enabled Three Dollar Bill Cinema and the Seattle Queer Film Festival to make it to 26 years. From 6 to 7pm, host Rebecca M. Davis will guide attendees through a sneak preview of some of the most exciting films coming up at SQFF, and there will be live entertainment from special guests Adra Boo, D Dynasty, and Betty Wetter. This event is free but available only to Three Dollar Bill Cinema sponsors, donors, members, and community partners. If you wish to join the festivities, you can become a member or donor and make the cut! Visit threedollarbillcinema.org for details.

Early-bird discounted passes go on sale Friday, September 3, and will be available through September 15. During this time, virtual passes can be purchased for $99 (discounted from $150), and hybrid passes can be purchased for $150 (discounted from $200). Pass prices will increase on September 16, when the full festival lineup launches and individual tickets go on sale.

The festival takes place October 14-24. For press credentials or high-res images, to preview any films, or to arrange interviews, please contact Billy Ray Brewton at [email protected].
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Opening Film: "Potato Dreams of America"
Dir. Wes Hurley; 2021; USA; 95 min.
An autobiographical dark comedy about a gay boy growing up in the Soviet Union, his mail-order-bride mother, and their adventurous escape to America.

Closing Film: "Fanny"
Dir. Bobbi Jo Hart; 2021; USA; 96 min.
The untold story of a self-formed California garage band — including queer and Filipina American bandmates — that morphed into the ferocious rock group Fanny, the first all-women band to release an LP with a major record label. Revered by everyone from Bonnie Raitt to the late David Bowie, Fanny had a groundbreaking impact on music that has been lost in the mists of time...until now.

Centerpiece Film: "Being Bebe: The Bebe Zahara Benet Documentary"
Dir. Emily Branham; 2021; USA; 90 min.
A story of performance, persistence, and purpose, this exceptional documentary explores the life of the first winner of the culture-shaping phenomenon, "RuPaul's Drag Race."