The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Q-Fest films in Woodland Theater

UW-Eau Claire students organize a week-long queer film festival
Student programmer Emily Luebke and Gender & Sexuality Resource Center Director Kallie Friede pose before the Woodland Theater where Q-Fest films are playing.

Throughout the week of Oct. 17-21, UW-Eau Claire’s Gender & Sexuality Resource Center hosted Q-Fest, which is a student-run queer film festival. Seventeen films and two short film series were shown at various times and dates in the Woodland Theater of the Davies Student Center.

The preparations for this annual festival take place months prior to the actual event. 

Each summer, a cohort consisting of 11 students and three staff travels to San Francisco for an immersion program that lasts two weeks. All participants attend an LGBTQ+ film festival in the Castro District called Frameline.

Frameline is the world’s largest and oldest festival specifically for queer films, which takes place during San Francisco Pride. The Castro District is known for its significance to the city’s LGBTQ+ and allied communities, preserving the unique culture and history of the area.

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The main goal of this trip was for students to collectively screen hundreds of the films being presented at this festival, as well as to document their experiences on the streets of San Francisco and their interactions with people of the community.

After returning to Eau Claire, the team of students began the process of planning Q-Fest, choosing which films they strongly believed should be shown. The primary focus was to celebrate the diversity of queerness, portraying how it intersects with other forms of identity.

“We picked films based on the best representation, quality and what we thought the students would appreciate,” Quinn Lester, a fourth-year psychology and family studies student who helped put together this event, said.

The idea behind Q-Fest goes beyond simply showing films; it is meant to be educational and celebrative of the queer community in all of its different forms.

Brett Farmer, a fourth-year public relations student and student body president who attended the immersion program and was involved in organizing Q-Fest, spoke more on the festival’s overall purpose.

“I think it’s incredibly important for people to understand that there are more stories out there about queerness that many mainstream queer films don’t show,” Farmer said. “It’s more than just being queer, it’s the joy and struggles that come with it too. It’s an amazing variety.”

Along with the films being shown, student programmers also gave presentations concerning a multitude of topics on Wednesday, Oct. 18. 

These topics were chosen by groups of Q-Fest students with the intent to represent different perspectives, share their own experiences, address different systems of oppression and connect their ideas to the community of Eau Claire.

“It’s not only a research topic, it’s also the experiences and things (students) saw while in San Francisco. It ties in the immersion experience to each of their presentations,” Kallie Friede said, the director of the GSRC.

There were three presentations given in total: “Anti-LGBTQ+ Legislation,” by Maggie Armstrong, Emily Luebke and Scout McKnight; “Impact of Addiction,” by Brett Farmer, Maggie Minnick, Quinn Lester and Jacksen Wolff; “Are You Afraid of HIV,” by Josh Holness, Erin McMichael, Miles Perreault and Primrose Walker.

UW-Eau Claire students were able to attend each film and presentation free of charge. The program also provided free popcorn, candy, snow cones and pizza, as well as chances to win different prizes as well. 

Q-Fest organizers encourage more students to get involved with the event next year. Emily Luebke, a fifth-year special education and elementary education student programmer of the festival, shared her takeaways from the experience.

“I’ve learned to become such a critical thinker through this program. You learn about various experiences and identities that differ from your own,” Luebke said. “What we really want people to take away from this event is to have an open mind.”

Matczak can be reached at [email protected].

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Isabella Matczak
Isabella Matczak, Staff Writer

Isabella Matczak is a first-year English student and this is her first semester on The Spectator. She thoroughly enjoys any horror/vampire-related films, walks in the forest, cats, thrifting, yoga, reading and spiced chai.

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