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Local film fest moves to broaden horizons

photo courtesy of A Woman Reported
"A Woman Reported" is a short film that tells the story of one woman's escape fantasies before being the victim of a hate crime. It appeared at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival and will be appearing tomorrow at the Lesbian Looks Film Festival.
By Lauren Hillery
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, September 23, 2004
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ACTION! Will makes a comment about Grace's small boobs. Grace retaliates with a comment about Will's inability to keep a partner. Jack discusses his sexcapades. Karen downs some pills with a martini.

If this typical banter from "Will and Grace" is the quintessential picture of gay culture in the media, then something is missing from this picture. However, that missing piece has been found. The UA's Lesbian Looks Film and Video series offers a variety of film styles and subjects that extends far beyond the traditional representation of gay culture in the media.

Since its creation 12 years ago, this film festival has grown substantially, said co-founder Beverly Seckinger, associate media arts professor.

"It started in a very modest way. It's grown over the years from picking stuff out of a catalogue kind of stuff, to putting out a call for work," Seckinger said.

Instead of searching for works, the festival now receives over 100 submissions a year. However, only a handful of films are chosen. For instance, in this year's festival, only 12 works are featured.

Although similarly themed film festivals have become more prevalent in recent years, Lesbian Looks offers films never before seen in Tucson or, sometimes, anywhere else.

Lesbian Looks is a three-day festival beginning tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. The first night features nine distinct short films. These films range from romantic comedies to films of cultural inspection to fairy tale spin-offs.

The second night, Friday, Oct. 8, features two documentaries: "Fly Cherry," directed by Jessica Sharzer and "Liberty: 3 Stories about Life & Death," directed by Pam Walton. The first two nights are both free and are held in the Modern Languages Auditorium, Room 350.

Walton's film examines 30-year-long friendships that are challenged to deal with loss and death through humor, love and courage.

Walton used this film as a way of dealing with the death of a close friend.

"My dear friend Joyce Fulton was dying of a brain tumor and it was very hard for me. The only way I could face the situation, actually, was to take my camera with me when I went to see her. I documented the two years that she was dying," Walton said.

She then extended the film after another close friend neared the end of her struggle with lymphoma.

According to Seckinger the film goes backward in time, starting with the death of Fulton, and gradually brings her back to life.

"You get to know her retrospectively," Seckinger said.

The second part of the film shows the life of the other character and includes the woman from the first portion alive and well.

Walton hopes her film shows more than a strong group of lesbians coming together for support.

"I hope 'Liberty' reminds everyone who sees it that life is worth celebrating," Walton said.

The program that night is co-sponsored by Wingspan's LBT Breast Cancer Health Project.

The final night represents the first time a film in the Lesbian Looks festival will be shown outside the UA campus. "The Girl" will be shown Thursday, Oct. 21 at 7 p.m. at The Loft Cinema, 3233 E. Speedway Blvd. The film is a based on a short story by Monique Wittig, a former UA professor, of the same title. Wittig died about a year ago from a heart attack.

This screening costs $10 and benefits the Monique Wittig Scholarship Endowment. It also includes speakers before the showing and a reception afterward with music by the Betty Diamond band.

"I really want to emphasize 'The Girl,'" Seckinger said. "It is a way to raise money for the scholarship endowment and also to celebrate her life and work. Hopefully we can pack The Loft."

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