First Eau Queer Film Festival

Story by Thom Fountain

The films presented at this weekend’s Eau Queer Film Festival, the first-ever LGBTQIA festival on campus, may have a common theme, but Crystal Kazik, a senior and director of the festival, said the films don’t focus on just sexuality.

“It was a lot of family, race, religion, bringing in different languages and different cultures so it would resonate with a lot of different groups and people instead of just the queer community,” Kazik said.

The festival, which begins today and ends Sunday in the Davies Theatre, features 13 feature-length and short films, three of which were produced by UW-Eau Claire students.

The 11 students organizing this weekend’s festival began working together while attending the Frameline34 Festival that takes place every summer as a part of WMNS 422, a travel seminar. Frameline34 is the premier LGBTQ film festival in the nation.

While there, the students focused on making short documentary films, as well as screening films that would eventually be brought back to the Eau Queer Film Festival.

“We were looking for production value,” junior Daniel Zamarippa, the operations coordinator for the Eau Queer Film Festival, said. “But also films that had interest to the Eau Claire community.”

While some of the films are for adult audiences, Zamarippa said there are some that are suitable for high schoolers, specifically FIT. A British film that deals with bullying and homophobia in schools, FIT has been screened in high schools across the UK, Zamarippa said.

The featured film at the Eau Queer Film Festival, Children of God, will air each night. The feature length film is set in the Bahamas and focuses on the hidden relationships of homosexuals in the violently homophobic Caribbean community.

Lisa Mercer, a senior involved in the festival, said attendees to this weekend’s festival will be among the first people worldwide to see these films.

The three student films will be screened Friday and will be followed by a discussion about the students’ trip to San Francisco and the films shown.

“Invisibility,” which was produced by Kazik, Zamarripa and Katilyn Donovan, focuses on the struggles of being comfortable as a bisexual. The three students interviewed members of the LGBTQIA community while attending the 2010 Pride Celebration in San Francisco.

Another student film, “Justice Delayed,” which was produced by Brenna Ehster, Dylan Jambrek, Christine Johnson and Roxie Schmidt, is a documentary looking at the California Prop 8 Campaign, which sought marriage equality.

“Share,” produced by Betty Matthews, Lisa Mercer, Tyler Thom and Xiangyun Chen, looks at the dynamics of the queer community through social networking sites, such as Facebook, MySpace and blogging.

Matthews said one of the things that made the trip successful was that it was so customizable.

“We were all given this equipment, we were all given a location, and we were all given an opportunity to pretty much do what we wanted,” Matthews said. “So I think the thing that we all got out of it was something a little bit different.”

Zamarippa said he hopes students and community members attend the festival with an open mind. Matthews agreed:

“We have a good range of films,” Matthews said. “So regardless of a person’s interest there’s really something everyone can be engaged with.”