Making gay and lesbian film fests more inclusive at Gender Reel

"A Condition of the Soul: Venus Demars" will be screened at Gender Reel.  Credit: Venus Demars
“A Condition of the Soul: Venus Demars” will be screened at Gender Reel.
Credit: Venus Demars

Joe Ippolito, who identifies himself as a trans-man, didn’t like what he was seeing at gay and lesbian film festivals. For him, there weren’t enough films about the gender non-conforming, the gender variant and the transgender community.

“There has been a lack of inclusion in gay and lesbian film festivals traditionally over the years around the country,” Ippolito says. “Most of them are getting better and they’re starting to recognize the importance of more inclusion of transgender people.”

That’s happening in part because of Ippolito. He founded the Gender Reel film festival in 2011 in Philadelphia and this year it’s going national with Gender Reel festival events in Minneapolis, Portland and Oakland and here, too.

The Philly Gender Reel takes place Thursday, Sept. 19, through Saturday, Sept. 21, at the Rotunda in University City.

“The gay and lesbian film festivals were not getting submissions of films from the transgender experience and the reason for that are larger issues, such as the funding sources,” Ippolito says. “They were mostly films about gay men [at the festivals] and they’re being funded by people who are privileged and white.”

The Gender Reel fest is a DIY affair of 22 films interspersed with live music performances over the three days. The Friday night program is free.

“It’s a fair amount of leg work,” Ippolito says of making the festival national. “All the films are sent to me on DVD and I download them to hard drives and I send the hard drives, which have all of the 22 films, to the festivals and they pull it up and show it.”

Film subjects in this year’s Gender Reel include gender non-conforming children, transgender women, a look at the Riot Grrrl punk movement of the ’90s with the trailer for “Riot Grrl: The Self Told Narrative” and a tribute to the late porn filmmaker and trans-man Christopher Lee. Two Lee films, “Ally of the Tranny Boy” and “Trans Grrls: Revolution Trans Porn Style Now,” will be shown 2 p.m. Satuday at Passionale on South Street, to an 18-and-over audience.

Ippolito, a city guy who’s currently living in Minneapolis, is working on his own film. “Growing Old Gracefully: The Transgender Experience” will explore the challenges the transgender community face while growing old.

He’ll focus on his film after this year’s fest.

“It’s about getting our work out and showing or highlighting our community and reaching people from other communities,” Ippolito says. “That’s what we need to do.”

Gender Reel
Sept. 19-21
The Rotunda
4014 Walnut St.
$10 for single day,$20 for festival pass
www.genderreelfest.com


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