QFest comes to houston

Houston's annual LGBTQ festival returns with trailblazing films for 2019

Houston's annual LGBTQ festival returns with trailblazing films

Why Can't I Be Me? Around You QFest Houston
Why Can't I Be Me? Around You premieres at QFest.  Photo courtesy of QFest

From iconic, trailblazing films to a peculiar, tawdry cult classic, QFest, Houston's international, LGBTQ film festival, will screen several highly anticipated films during its 23rd annual event.

During the opening-night gala at Rice Cinema on Wednesday, July 24, there will be a showing of Paris is Burning, Jeannie Livingston's iconic 1990 documentary about New York City's ball culture — and the LGBTQ+ communities involved with it. This digital restoration will be followed by an afterparty featuring live performances.

A couple days later, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston will have a 30th-anniversary screening of Tongues United, the late Marlon Riggs's groundbreaking doc that focuses on black gay culture.

On Saturday, July 27, the 1984 doc Before Stonewall: The Making of a Gay and Lesbian Community, which chronicles the people and events leading up to the 1969 Stonewall riots, will screen at MFAH. Meanwhile, a pair of shorts blocks will play at Aurora Picture Show. Look for "Frame Change: Experimental Shorts," curated by local artist Emilý Æyer, and "Men's Own Stories," programmed by local art historian/former Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (CAMH) director Bill Arning.

On Sunday, July 28, Rice will have two, very intriguing presentations. First, a 15th-anniversary screening of Tarnation, the acclaimed documentary from Houstonian Jonathan Caouette, which traces his family history via Super 8 footage, VHS tapes, answering machine messages, etc.

Later that evening, expect a screening of Angel, the low-down, 1984 thriller about a private-school girl who moonlights as a call girl. The movie, which will be shown in glorious 35mm, co-stars the late comedian Dick Shawn as her transvestite friend.

Along with the usual collection of competing features and shorts, QFest will also have several premieres. Openly gay luchador Cassandro will be in attendance for the Houston premiere of Cassandro, the Exotico!, showing Thursday, July 25, at MFAH. The MFAH will also have the Texas premiere of Abel Ferrara's Pasolini, starring recent Oscar nominee Willem Dafoe as the provocative, Italian filmmaker, on Saturday, July 28.

And closing things out (once again at MFAH) on Wednesday, July 31, will be the Houston premiere of Why Can't I Be Me? Around You, a doc about a trans woman mechanic from Albuquerque. Filmmaker Harrod Blank (Wild Wheels) and subject Rusty Tidenburg will be in attendance.

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Ticket prices are $10 (opening night is $15), while a QPass is $75. For tickets, showtimes, and more information, visit the official site.