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Level Ground, a film festival that seeks to facilitate conversations about religion and LGBT issues, kicked off Thursday in Pasadena, Calif., and will continue through the weekend.
Among Level Ground events:
* Author Jeff Chu will interview Alan Chambers, former president of shuttered "ex-gay" group Exodus International
* A screening of Give Me Sex Jesus, a film that includes interviews with religious leaders, historians, LGBT people and others in an exploration of the history of "sexuality and purity within the Christian church"
* A screening of The Homestretch, a documentary about homeless teens in Chicago
* A bullying-themed performance for kids ages 4-12
* Other film screenings and discussions with filmmakers
* Opening and closing galas and an awards brunch
This is the second year that Level Ground will be held in Pasadena, where five venues will be host to film fest events. Level Ground co-executive director Samantha Curley told the Pasadena Star-News that this year's festival will highlight youth, homelessness, racial inequalities, and mental health issues.
"The festival is trying to help people form relationships across their differences and disagreements to learn how to value people over ideology. ... Both faith and sexuality are parts of very wide and deep identities. They can coexist together," she said.
Level Ground, which emerged out of a student organization at the evangelical Fuller Theological Seminary, lists its mission as using art "to create safe space for dialogue about faith, gender, and sexuality."
"As social and political opinions in the United States continue to shift, faith communities and LGBT people are often left hostile, defensive, and largely afraid to talk with one another," its website says. "Yet these difficult conversations are needed now more than ever. "Level Ground uses art to create space within our communities where we can learn to engage one another across our differences and disagreements."