'That's my life': F-M LGBT Film Festival brings diverse stories to the big screen

FARGO -- "There's a place where you are seen. Let us show it to you." That's the motto of the Fargo-Moorhead LGBT Film Festival screening Wednesday, Sept. 12, through Saturday, Sept. 15, at the Fargo Theatre that seeks "to celebrate lesbian, gay,...
Two boys in a college theater class do some thinking about the nature of representation in "Untitled Tenderness Project," a short by Rebecca Shoptaw screening Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018. Special to The Forum

FARGO - "There's a place where you are seen. Let us show it to you."

That's the motto of the Fargo-Moorhead LGBT Film Festival screening Wednesday, Sept. 12, through Saturday, Sept. 15, at the Fargo Theatre that seeks "to celebrate lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender lived experience" through innovative films.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the cultural event, and founder Raymond Rea couldn't be more pleased to reach this milestone.

"I'm happy that (the LGBT Film Festival) has not only survived, but thrived in Fargo-Moorhead over the years," says Rea, an experienced filmmaker and professor of film at Minnesota State University Moorhead. "Not only have we become a legitimate film festival in the sense of bringing in film submissions from all over the country, but also all over the world."

In the past, the festival has hosted only three screenings, but recently has grown to five screenings encompassing all genres of high-quality films that celebrate the LGBT lived experience "and all of the diversity encompassed in that," Rea says.

"(Filmmakers) don't have to be LGBT filmmakers to be able to submit to the festival," he explains. "Occasionally, there will be a straight ally that will make a fabulous film about the LGBT experience."

Relatable stories

The first screening launches at 8 p.m. Wednesday with a comedic short called "Heather Has Four Moms," a light-hearted tale about a 15 year-old who has to navigate "the talk" about birth control with her four moms.

The festival ends Saturday with "The Carmilla Movie," a romantic sci-fi movie about a former vampire adapting to a new life in Toronto with her girlfriend in an attempt to escape her dark past.

Films in between range from documentaries and comedies to narrative features that tackle topics such as relationships, gender identity, homophobia and more.

Rea, who is transgender, says the idea for the FM LGBT Film Festival came from a Queer Film Series he curated for MSUM after moving to the community from San Francisco in 2008. The idea inspired Rea and a group of cohorts in the LGBT community to bring the festival to Fargo-Moorhead in 2009 because when they went to movies, they rarely saw representation of their own lives, he says.

"One of our main goals in this geographic region is to show the (local LGBT) community images, real-life stories and characters we can relate to - that we can look up to and say, 'I understand that,' or 'That's my life,'" Rea adds.

Most of all, Rea says, the film festival is for anyone who enjoys watching high-quality films from all over the globe.

"(Films) affect us differently than any other type of storytelling device. When we sit down and watch a film, we are really in the film," he says. "Every single film that we show has really high production value. You should come to this festival even if you just want to see good films."

Tickets are $10 for individual passes and $30 for festival passes for moviegoers 17 and older. Tickets are available at the door one hour before each screening. To see the festival lineup and film descriptions, visit www.fmlgbtff.com.

If you go

What: 10th annual Fargo-Moorhead LGBT Film Festival

When: 8 p.m. Sept. 12-14, and 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. Sept. 15

Where: Fargo Theatre, 314 Broadway N.

Tickets: $10 for individual passes or $30 for festival passes; can be purchased at the door.