According to David Weissman, co-director of the first annual Portland Queer Documentary Festival, most mainstream queer film fests have a difficult time getting audiences to turn out for documentaries—people are usually more drawn to narrative feature films.
So he and Russ Gage have responded by creating a fest that is nothing but documentaries. It's apparently the first of its kind in the world.
"It's an idea whose time has come, I hope," says Weissman.
"Our overall goal for programming the fest was to provide a well-rounded mix of films," he adds, "some that deal with large issues, and some that are just personal."
The films that will be shown over three days run the gamut, from Red Without Blue, about two gay twins, one of whom decides to have a sex change, to On The Downlow, about four bisexual African Americans in Cleveland, OH, to the politicized Saving Marriage, which closes out the event on Sunday. There are smaller films too—like Lesbian Sex and Sexuality, a short piece on the rise of lesbian-produced erotica through the '90s, and Eye on the Guy, about 1950s beefcake photographer Alan B. Stone.
"For documentaries," Weissman says, "it's hard to not be political."
At least part of the goal of the fest is to give the queer community in Portland—where we don't even have a real queer neighborhood—a sense of common space.
"Portland has a large, but not very visible, queer community," he says. That's because the city's "mainstream" has been so accepting, but the lack of a specific place "can lead to a certain level of complacency. It's hard to get a critical mass of queer people all in the same place here. One of the underlying goals for us is to have queer people get together in an environment that is socially, culturally, and politically welcoming."
In that, Weissman and Gage share a goal with the Q Center (69 SE Taylor), which will host the closing night party on Sunday after Saving Marriage.
"Plus, the fest will be a great place to find a date," Weissman says. "All of the smartest queers in the city will be there."