Bringing a film to a film festival is not necessarily such a hard thing to do, other than meeting the criteria for entry and of course, having the artistic merit. As St. Louis Q-Fest 2010 was about to begin, the rather salacious and trans-exploitative film by Israel Luna was being prepared for its debut at the Tribeca International Film Festival in New York City. While I had previously looked at Q-Fest's line up here in St. Louis and saw there was no 'Transgender-related' offering, I did note to myself 'maybe next year' and then actually had a sigh of relief, as I did prefer not having to address such an issue such as 'TO#WK' rather than have just 'anything' offered up to settle the inclusive mindset that I possess.
In the course of watching many films where there is a transgender individual portrayed, I have come across any number of the scenarios where it is exploitative in any sense of the word or the person is portrayed in a 'down-on-the luck' scenario and rarely if ever is the transgender portrayed as successful or as a well-educated or 'tech' person. As we all know (and if you don't, I suggest some rather high intensity, remedial reading over at 'Wiki') the transgender individual is no less smarter, no less intellectual than most anyone else. Yet most films will dwell upon something else thus perpetuating the myth that 'gender identity disorder' is an impairment or psychosis of the brain function.
So with the possibility of TO#WK being brought to town, I contacted the Artistic Director of Cinema St Louis, which produces the St Louis International Film Festival ((SLIFF) and we began to look at bringing the film “Paulista” to SLIFF this year. After a copy of 'Paulista' was obtained by SLIFF, we sat down for a acceptance screening and it was indeed accepted and will be shown at the Festival here in St. Louis, in November. What follows, is my estimation of what it takes to bring a good film to a festival. Note: I am writing this from a 'Transgender aspect, it should apply in most any case.
1. Know the film, either through reviews by a reputable film critic or through reviews coming from other transgender folks who have seen it at other festivals. There's no point in bringing in a film you don't like yourself. And the first thing the selection committee / Artistic Director will be looking for is credible artistic value. Don't waste their time.
2. Determine the criteria from which selections will be chosen: Remember, most film festivals will not bring in a film that has been previously fully released to the public and/or available for sale on DVD or Blu-Ray.
3. Establish contact and meet with the Festival's Artistic director / Selection Committee: Explain why a marginalizing / exploitative film is damaging / dehumanizing to the Transgender Community and hurtful to the entire Community as a whole. Then explain why a trans-positive film is needed in a film festival, including the need for Transgender representation in the festival.
4. Ask to attend the acceptance screening of the film: While many films may seem innocuous simply by title or summary, there still may be that one little bit that is unacceptable as far the point you are trying to make. Remember, you are representing the Transgender Community. Also, you will be able to have a feel of what the 'age-level' will be for those “Not Rated” films, with regard to vulgar language and sexual situations. Remember that vulgarity and sexual situations are quite acceptable in a film if it isn't being used to titillate or becomes the main feature of the film. Be prepared to answer questions as to why the film is acceptable to the Trans Community
5. Is there a person, group, organization or business willing to financially sponsor the film?: Many festivals are produced and run by non-profit organizations and there is a cost to bring in the film, promote, advertise and show the film. Having a sponsor no doubt makes it attractive to the festival, but do yet remember, the film itself must pass other success criteria.
Revlon Robyn (aka Robyn Carolyn Montague)
for TOXIC Ticked off Tra**ies With Knives Clearinghouse
June 7, 2010