FilmScene and Iowa City Pride promote pride all year with LGBTQ films

FilmScene, in partnership with Iowa City Pride, has monthly screenings of LGBTQ films throughout the year.

Lauren Arzbaecher, Arts Reporter

FilmScene is promoting acceptance and positive visibility of the LGBTQ community with films showcasing queer stories and queer creators year-round, not just during Pride Month.

FilmScene programming director Rebecca Fons said the cinema’s initial goal was centered on creating a balanced mix of intersectional stories. The theater accomplishes this by regularly screening films created by and about people who are typically underrepresented in mainstream media.

FilmScene began screenings in collaboration with Iowa City Pride in early 2018, showing at minimum one queer film every month.

“I think our series Pride at FilmScene provides an example about reaching out to the community,” Fons said. “If you work with groups in the community, such as Iowa City Pride, they will communicate to you what they want. They came to us and said they really wanted something that is year-round, inclusive, and not just convenient but infused into FilmScene’s programming.”

IC Pride is grateful for the partnership with one of Iowa City’s most popular arts organizations, said Christine Hawes, the community outreach and publicity chair for the IC Pride Board.

“This partnership was one of the first things we did to expand the efforts of Iowa City Pride to be more than a once-a-year festival,” Hawes said. “It was part of an overall effort to build in some year-round events that Pride could organize to help people connect and network with each other.”

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Screenings centered on those not frequently given the spotlight also extend into the student body with the help of the Bijou Film Board. The student-run organization contributes to FilmScene programming as well as hosting its own film-series events. Last year, Bijou hosted a student film festival, Arts Amplified, to showcase art from minority voices.

“While contemporary mainstream film is continually becoming more inclusive of queer identities, and this is great, there is an expansive world of queer film that is elusive to a casual movie-goer because they only play in smaller theaters, like FilmScene,” Bijou Executive Director Molly Bagnall said in an email to The Daily Iowan.

This year’s Pride celebrations come with added significance. It has been 50 years since the police raid at Stonewall in June 1969, a landmark event that invigorated the fight for LGBTQ+ rights in the U.S.

To commemorate the 50th anniversary, FilmScene showed the documentary Stonewall Uprising as part of Pride Week events. The screening featured a performance by the Quire of Eastern Iowa, a nonprofit chorus for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. The group will also kick off the live performances for Pride on June 15.

FilmScene will soon have a second location in the Chauncey Tower, set to open in late summer or early fall. Fons said the additional screens will be beneficial in continuing and expanding FilmScene’s partnership with IC Pride with more flexibility to move the Pride screenings from its current Monday night slot to a more high-traffic time. In addition to a more prominent screening time, Hawes had some plans for the partnership.

“One of our goals is to pair each Pride at FilmScene showing with a community group,” Hawes said. “The group would pick the film and hold a reception beforehand so that it becomes a real community networking experience.”