According to its website, QDoc is “the only festival in the US devoted exclusively to LGBTQ documentaries.” This year’s weekend-long showcase covers a wide range of topics, from aging to gender identity to portrayals of queer characters in popular culture. I wasn't able to watch everything on the lineup, but the films I did see were uniformly great.
My personal favorite: Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street (screening Fri May 3), which examines the lasting effect Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge had on the life of its star, Mark Patton. Though it's now celebrated as "the gayest horror movie ever made" (and Patton is revered as the first male "scream queen"), Freddy’s Revenge was released at the height of the AIDS epidemic, when being openly gay meant being treated like a diseased pariah. In the unexpectedly moving Scream Queen!, Patton explains why he chose to leave the entertainment industry and searches for closure more than three decades after the film's release. Patton and directors Tyler Jensen and Roman Chimienti will be in attendance at Friday's screening.
Another highlight from this year’s bill is Cassandro, the Exotico! (screening Sun May 5), which was shot over the course of five years and centers on Mexican professional wrestler Saúl Armendáriz, AKA the “Liberace of Lucha Libre.” It’s fluid and at times difficult to follow, but well worth witnessing the luchador’s magnetism and emotional strength as he reckons with his aging body. Also be sure to catch the Q Shorts (screening Sun May 5), which include A Great Ride—a snapshot of older lesbians living in communities across northern California—and Dress Up Like Mrs. Doubtfire, which examines how Mrs. Doubtfire presented one of the first “family-friendly” examples of cross-dressing in film.
Although I didn’t watch these, Gay Chorus Deep South (screening Thurs May 2)—which follows the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus on their 2016 tour through America’s southern states—and the Chelsea Manning documentary XY Chelsea (screening Fri May 3) both look incredible as well. Whatever you see, it’s impossible to go wrong; once again, QDoc has delivered an impeccably curated lineup of films that tell queer stories with joy, vividness, and empathy.