Bellisario alumni and their films to be part of online film festival

June 01, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A handful of alumni from the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications at Penn State will participate in and their films will be featured during a virtual film festival coordinated by the Centre LGBTQA Support Network and Centre Film Festival in mid-June.

The three-day festival, State College PRIDE, includes nine films and five question-and-answer sessions with filmmakers from June 12 to 14. All of the sessions will be available free online.

A team of Penn State faculty members who helped launch the inaugural Centre Film Festival last November helped make the event possible when the Centre LGBTQA Support Network was forced to cancel a planned parade and other activities because of the coronavirus pandemic.

"When PRIDE was canceled, we supported the decision, but we were devastated," said Tamar London, co-chair of the Centre LGBTQA Support Network. “When Pearl Gluck from the Centre Film Festival suggested making an LGBTQA+ film festival the centerpiece, we were delighted. It's the perfect medium for a festival that has to take place online.”

Gluck, an assistant professor of film, said the online format provided numerous opportunities. The films will be interwoven with other online events.

“We are able to have more than a dozen filmmakers from across the country join us for discussions and Q&A sessions,” London said. “That includes our GAYLA, drag story hour, arts and crafts activities, an LGBTQA+ information session for the community, drag bingo and a virtual PRIDE parade.”

Gluck said the partnership exemplifies the mission of the Centre Film Festival, which is to bring local stories to film and to create a platform for multimedia storytelling, dialogue and screenings.

“We believe central Pennsylvania is rich with screen-worthy stories and the talent to make them, and we are thrilled to work with State College PRIDE to make that happen,” she said.

Several of the films selected for the event have some strong Penn State connections.

The festival opens June 12 with “Clementine,” a film written and directed by Centre County native and Bellisario College alumna Lara Jean Gallagher. She will be part of a panel discussion following the film.

Fellow alumnus B. Kelly, director of “The Real Thing,” will be part of a panel of short film writers and directors who will discuss their art June 13 following the screening of Kelly’s film.

In memoriam to author and AIDS activist Larry Kramer, the online festival will be screening the documentary “How We Survived the Plague,” which documents the history of ACT UP, an organization Kramer helped found. The film, which will be screened June 14, is an Oscar-nominated documentary feature that was edited by Bellisario College alumnus Tyler Walk. Walk and director David France will participate in a panel discussion after the screening. Walk won a Special Jury Award for Editing at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year for his film “Welcome to Chechnye,” which premieres on HBO this month. 

Other films include shorts and the feature documentary “Circus of Books,” which will be followed by a Q&A with the director and her parents — the owners of the gay bookstore in the Silver Lakes neighborhood of Los Angeles that became an epicenter of activism.

“During my self-isolation, it’s been so encouraging to work on an event that’s spreading community and joy,” said Morgan Seiff, a Penn State film major and Schreyer Honors Scholar who has helped pull together the online festival. “I’m especially excited about our lineup of independent queer films, and I’m happy to help bring them to people’s computer screens.”

A complete schedule of events and description of the Centre LGBTQA Support Network PRIDE events may be found on its website.

“We're so proud of what we've put together — incredible films, lots of opportunities for interaction with the filmmakers and an array of fun activities to round out the festival,” London said.

Along with Gluck, Bellisairo College faculty members Curt Chandler, an assistant teacing professor in the Department of Journalism, and Bill Hallman, a lecturer in the Department of Telecommunications, have been vital in making the virtual festival possible. He was also a driving force behind the Centre Film Festival.

Last Updated June 02, 2020