From April 20–22, Reel Q brings back the Pittsburgh Underground Film Festival (PUFF) for a weekend of thought-provoking works about the LGBTQIA+ experience. The event includes a diverse array of feature-length and short documentaries addressing various aspects of LGBTQIA+ history and culture, including the HIV/AIDS crisis and the LGBTQIA+ influence on punk music. See schedule and details below:
Idol Worship: An Evening with Mink Stole and Peaches Christ
PUFF opens with a special presentation of Idol Worship: An Evening with Mink Stole and Peaches Christ at the Regent Square Theater. The show is an intimate, revelatory, and heartfelt happening that takes the form of a chat/variety show starring living legend and cult film icon Mink Stole, and is hosted by drag impresario and filmmaker Peaches Christ. The dynamic duo have been close friends for almost two decades and would like to invite you to join them for this special happening. With interviews, stories, film clips, anecdotes and live song this is a wildly entertaining, and uncensored exposé that aspires to be as hilarious as it is revealing.
Tickets cost $15 in advance, $20 a the door. VIP tickets are available for $40 in advance, $45 at the door. VIP tickets include a meet-and-greet with Mink Stole and Peaches Christ, an exclusive Q&A, early venue access, and reserved seats.
In Full Bloom (2015)
1 p.m. (Doors 12:30 p.m.)
The feature-length documentary by Michael D. Brewer chronicles the lives of 15 actors (13 transgender and 2 gay) whose paths cross during the production of Lovely Bouquet of Flowers, the unprecedented stage play created and written by Jazzmun Nichcala and director David Hays Gaddas. Fiction becomes reality, when behind-the-scenes footage of the rehearsal process and vignettes from the climactic performance are interwoven with expert testimonies and compelling personal interviews from the cast, that deal with family, inner conflicts, coming out, surgery, hormones, and the complexities of sexual identity and orientation. By sharing their own journeys and speaking to issues, such as relationships, spirituality, and careers, the film challenges the viewer to move past stereotypes and to see the commonalities we all share as human beings.
Nothing Without Us: The Women Who Will End AIDS (2017)
4 p.m. (Doors 3:30 p.m.)
Directed by Harriet Hirshorn, Nothing Without Us tells the story of the inspiring women at the forefront of the global AIDS movement. Combining archival footage and interviews with female activists, scientists and scholars in the US and Africa, the film reveals how women not only shaped grassroots groups like ACT-UP in the U.S. but have also played essential roles in HIV prevention and the treatment access movement throughout sub-Saharan Africa. The film explores the unaddressed dynamics that keep women around the world at risk of HIV while introducing the remarkable women who have the answers to ending this 30-year old pandemic.
Nothing Without Us screens at the Melwood Screening Room. Tickets cost $10.
Queercore: How to Punk a Revolution (2017)
7 p.m. (Doors 6:30 p.m.)
Director Yony Leyser presents the story of Queercore, the cultural and social movement that began in the mid-1980s as an offshoot of punk and was distinguished by its discontent with society’s disapproval of the gay, bisexual, lesbian and transgender communities. Underscoring interviews from figures such as Bruce LaBruce, G.B. Jones, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, John Waters, Kim Gordon, and many more are clips from movies, zines, concerts, and actions iconic to the movement. As steeped in the radical queer, anti-capitalist, DIY, and give-no-fucks approach as queercore itself, the movie reveals the perspectives and experiences of bands, moviemakers, writers, and other outsiders, taking audiences inside the creation of the community—and art—so desperately needed by the same queers it encompassed.
Expanding Gender: Youth Out Front
1 p.m. (Lunch 12:30 p.m.)
This short film program includes four documentaries that explore the varied identities of trans and gender-expansive youth and young adults. Selected works include Tomgirl, A Place in the Middle, Monica’s Story, and Passing.
Expanding Gender: Youth Out Front screens at the Melwood Screening Room. Admission is pay-what-you-can.
Tongues Untied (1989)
3 p.m. (Doors 2:30 p.m.)
Directed by Marlon Riggs, Tongues Untied blends documentary footage with personal account and fiction in an attempt to depict the specificity of Black gay identity. Besides detailing North American black gay culture, Riggs recounts his own experiences as a gay man, including the realization of his sexual identity and of coping with the deaths of many of his friends to AIDS. Other elements include footage of the Civil Rights Movement and clips of Eddie Murphy performing a homophobic stand-up routine. The film is a part of a body of recently released films and videos that examine central issues in the lives of lesbian and gay Black people. Riggs’ work challenged television’s generic boundaries of conformity during the late 80s and early 90s. The television documentary during this time was the conventional talking head, expert interviews, and personal testimonials commonly on public affair issues.
Tongues Untied screens at the Melwood Screening Room. Admission is pay-what-you-can.
For the first time, area LGBTQ+ filmmakers have the chance to screen their short movies in a local film festival created for and by them with the Pittsburgh Underground Film Festival (PUFF). Launched by Reel Q, PUFF celebrates “diverse LGBTQ+ communities through the presentation of overlooked and out-of-the-box films, workshops, lectures, and panels.” See below for event dates and details:
Ovarian Psychos (dir. Kate Trumbull LaValle and Joanna Sokolowski, 2012)
The event opens with Ovarian Psychos. The documentary follows The Ovarian Psycos Cycle Brigade, a raucous group in Eastside Los Angeles that uses their bicycles to confront the violence in their lives. At the helm of the crew is founder Xela de la X, a single mother and poet M.C. dedicated to recruiting an unapologetic, misfit crew of women of color, yet she struggles to strike a balance between motherhood and activism. Evie, a bright-eyed recruit, joins the crew despite poverty and the concerns of her protective Salvadoran mother. Meanwhile, Andi Xoch, a founding member and street artist, journeys to become a new leader within the crew.
Ovarian Psychos screens at 7 p.m. in the Melwood Screening Room. Doors open at 6 p.m. Cast members from the film will make an appearance.
Only In Pittsburgh!
Presented in cooperation with the Melwood Screening Room’s Film Kitchen series and the Indie Oaks Festival, Only In Pittsburgh! serves as a showcase for LGBTQ+ short films made by the local burgeoning film community. The featured works include the educational film parody How to Find a Man, the Dusty Springfield-inspired Mama Said, and The Toothmans, a documentary about a rural Pennsylvania family and their transgender daughter.
Only In Pittsburgh! begins at 12:30 p.m. in the Melwood Screening Room. Doors open at 12 p.m.
Lives of Their Own: Pittsburgh Queer History Project Screening
Join archivist Harrison Apple as she presents video content from the Pittsburgh Queer History Project, an oral history and media archive aimed at preserving a record of LGBTQ nightlife from 1960-1990. The lecture includes a full screening of the 1989 Ms. Pittsburgh Pageant. This event is free and open to the public.
The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson (dir. David France, 2017)
When Marsha P. Johnson, the beloved self-described “street queen” of Christopher Street, was found floating in the Hudson River in 1992, the NYPD called her death a suicide. Protests erupted but the police remained impassive and refused to investigate. Now, 25 years later, Oscar-nominated director and journalist David France (How To Survive a Plague) examines the death and extraordinary life of a trans icon.
The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson screens at the Melwood Screening Room. Doors open at 3 p.m.
The Revival: Women and the Word (dir. Sekiya Dorsett, 2016)
Jade Foster recruits a group of five dynamic poets and musicians to become stewards of a movement that builds community among queer women of color, upholds literary arts excellence, and occupies living rooms across the country. The documentary follows their international female-led, salon-styled tour.
The Revival: Women and the Word screens at 6 p.m. the Melwood Screening Room. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Event includes a post-screening poetry performance.
Breakfast with Queer PGH
Join Queer PGH for an early lecture about their mission to promote LGBTQ+ voices and perspectives. Created in 2016, the volunteer-run online magazine “made by and for queer folks in Pittsburgh” has become a platform for artists, writers, photographers, and “general queer enthusiasts.”
Toonseum sponsors a selection of short films from LGBTQ+ animators. The program includes the 1930s-style cartoon musical Happy and Gay, the animated documentary webseries Dating Sucks, A Genderqueer Misadventure, and a look at the work of Jeffrey Krell, an openly gay American cartoonist known for the syndicated comic strip Jayson.
Get Animated! starts at 12:30 p.m. in the Melwood Screening Room. Doors open at 12 p.m.
Spiritual sanctuary, sex, sisterhood and a gathering of faeries. A bearded nun. Through an intimate lens, this feature documentary takes us on a journey with Sister Missionary P. Delight, one of the founders of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. In 1979, Mish, as he is affectionately known by his friends, created an Order of gay male nuns to promote a philosophy of promulgating universal joy and expiating guilt. Both he and the Order have come a long way since then. Today, the Sisters are spread out across the globe, and Mish lives in the middle of the woods of the Deep South, in a community of Radical Faeries. JOY! follows Mish and his community over a seven year period, chronicling the history of the movement and the highs and lows of his own personal journey.
JOY! Portrait of a Nun screens at 2:30 p.m. in the Melwood Screening Room. Doors open at 2 p.m.
All PUFF events take place at the Melwood Screening Room. Tickets to all screenings cost $10. Lectures and workshops are free.