One of the longest running LGBT film festivals has changed names for its 31st birthday. The Austin Gay & Lesbian International Film Festival, happening September 6-9, is now officially the All Genders, Lifestyles, and Identities Film Festival. Festival director Jim Brunzell says this year is the perfect time to address issues of inclusion and intersection the queer community has faced all year. And judging by the festival’s lineup it’s totally walking its talk.
In addition to screenings and panel discussions, aGLIFF has added legacy awards to its programing this year. The legacy awards aim to celebrate filmmakers and artists who have made significant achievements in queer cinema that have profoundly impacted the LGBT community. The first honorees include Austin filmmaker Yen Tan, whose films 1985, Pit Stop, and Ciao have been critically acclaimed for over a decade. Jake Graf is also honored as Breakthrough Filmmaker, after his short films Brace, Chance, and Dawn and Dusk screened at aGLIFF in 2014, 2015, and 2016.
Call Her Ganda, pictured above and directed by local Austin filmmaker PJ Raval, is part of aGLIFF’s opening night selection. The documentary, fresh from winning the Audience Award for Best Documentary at Toronto’s Inside Out film festival, investigates the story of Jennifer Laude (above), a Filipina trans woman who was brutally murdered by a U.S. Marine. Three women who investigated the case — an activist attorney, a transgender journalist, and Jennifer’s mother — are spotlighted pursuing justice and taking on hardened histories of U.S. imperialism.
Meanwhile, Mapplethorpe, directed by award-winning filmmaker Ondi Timonoer, will close the festival. The film stars Matt Smith as the complicated gay artist and looks at his rise to fame in the ‘70s through his untimely death in 1989 to AIDS complications.