TWIST: Seattle Queer Film Festival Ready To Entertain Seattle

Three Dollar Bill Cinema presents the 22nd annual TWIST Seattle Queer Film Festival. It runs October 12-22nd and presents five gala film events, 48 Features, 13 Shorts Programs, over 11 days at various locations around Seattle.

To quote a Stephen Sondheim lyric, “Something for everyone.” From scary to sexy, from love to heartache,  from in to out, from top to bottom, from hairs and bears to leather and BLUF, from conservative to liberal, from despair to delight, from transgenders to trailblazers, from local to foreign filmmakers, from webcomics and shorts to documentaries and feature films—we go on and on. Bottom line, TWIST’s roster includes a film to satisfy every taste, with unique programs such as the animated SaturGay Morning Cartoons with a cereal bar buffet.

The “Queer Ghost Hunters” are going to be shooting an episode in Seattle on Friday the 13th (There’s a screening on that day, and for an extra $30, you might be one of the lucky 13 folks who join the Spector Seekers following the screening on a hunt for Queer Ghosts.)

Given the current climate of hate in our political atmosphere, TWIST’s celebration of commitment to the latest and best in queer film is both timely and meaningful.

Armistead Maupin and his husband, Christopher Turner

Armistead Maupin and his husband, Christopher Turner

This year’s festival opens with the Seattle premiere of “The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin,” an in-depth look at one of the queer community’s most beloved writers and important activists, as well as the creator of “Tales of the City.” If you attend this film you might win tickets to meet Armistead Maupin at Benaroya Hall on October 16th.

Co-directors Jennifer Kroot and Bill Weber’s film celebrates Maupin, following his evolution from a conservative son of the Old South into a gay rights pioneer whose novels inspired millions to reclaim their lives. Their documentary moves nimbly between playful and poignant and laugh-out-loud funny. With help from his friends (including Neil Gaiman, Laura Linney, Olympia Dukakis, Sir Ian McKellen and Amy Tan), Maupin offers a disarmingly frank look at the journey that took him from the jungles of Vietnam to the bathhouses of 70’s San Francisco to the front line of the American culture war. This story of stories is a true gift, reminding us that community is to be cherished, and that each and every one of us has a significant role to play in its creation. To quote Maupin, “I surrendered my youth to the people I feared when I could have been out there loving someone. Don’t make that mistake yourself. Life’s too damn short.”

Following the screening, the gala reception kicks off the festival’s celebrations with DJs, food, and drink (ticket or pass required). For the first time ever, the opening night gala will be at KEXP’s new Gathering Space. The closing night gala is at Il Fornaio inside Pacific Place. Themed receptions will follow each of the three centerpiece features.

Trudie Styler Director of "Freak Show"

Trudie Styler Director of “Freak Show”

TWIST’s closing night gala presents Trudie Styler’s star-studded film “Freak Show,” based on legendary club kid James St. James’s young adult novel. Addressing the contemporary issues facing today’s youth, her feature film directing debut follows the coming-of-age story of Billy Bloom, a funny, good-hearted, cross-dressing teen who becomes the new student at an ultra-conservative high school. Although accosted with Bible-thumping cheerleaders, jocks, and bullies, Billy takes a stand. Determined to be who he is and not bow to peer pressure, he refuses to change his outlandish outfits or behavior. Instead, he decides fight back by running for Homecoming Queen on behalf of misunderstood freaks outcasts and underdogs everywhere.

No doubt, as Mrs. Sting, Styler’s personal connections played a role in securing Alex Lawther (The Imitation Game) as Billy, Abigail Breslin (Scream Queens) as Lynette and a list of cameos that include Laverne Cox (Orange Is the New Black) as an anchorwoman, Bette Middler (her first film in nearly four years) as Billy’s inspirational mother and John McEnroe as a screaming coach (of course).

At one Q&A, Styler talked about how certain bullies receive great power, sometimes even leading to the White House. And bullying is indeed often associated with the so-called dark triad–narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy.

A film about standing ground in the face of adversity, being true to one’s self at all costs, “Freak Show” is the perfect way to end a film festival about the diverse and changing landscape of the LGBT community.

In between the opening and closing, TWIST hosts three additional galas as Centerpiece Films: Damon Cardasis’s “Saturday Church,” Pouria Heidary Oureh’s “Apricot Groves,” and Robin Campillo’s “BPM.”

In this Glee-ful coming-of-age musical, “Saturday Church,” Ulysses (dynamic newcomer Luka Kain) struggles to come to terms with the reality of a dismal home life with his bigoted aunt Rose (Regina Taylor).

“Apricot Groves,” makes a triumphant return after screening at the 2017 Translations: Seattle Transgender Film Festival. The film tells the story of Aram, an Iranian-Armenian transmasculine youth, who immigrated to the United States in childhood, and travels back to Armenia for the first time to propose to a girlfriend Aram met and lived with in America. A story of family, faith, brotherhood, and love, “Apricot Groves,” is a moving reflection on the themes of secrecy and identity, as well as an intricate example of the endurance and complications that permeate conservative religious expectations.

"Apricot Groves" At TWIST: Seattle Queer Film Festival

“Apricot Groves” At TWIST: Seattle Queer Film Festival

Based on his life as an ACT UP activist in the early ’90s, writer-director Robin Campillo, “BPM “ tells the heart-wrenching love story of courageous, resilient people who fought for our very existence. He draws on his personal relationships and experiences fighting pharmaceutical companies for the release of new life-saving protease inhibitor drugs, against the backdrop of fear and indifference from the general public and government. At the Cannes Film Festival, the film won the Grand Prix, Queer Palm, and Film Critics’ Awards.

At the SaturGay Morning Panel, “Queers & Women in Comics,” you’ll learn about the trailblazers who are shifting the climate in the superhero and online comic universe, including local transgender webcomic personality, Jesska Nightmare. This overview is particularly relevant, considering recent developments of the Wonder Woman phenomena. Panelists include: Tatiana Gill (Moderator and Seattle cartoonist), Roberta Gregory (LGBT comics creator since the mid ‘70s), Isabella Price (comics creator and filmmaker) and Jessica Nightmare (writer, illustrator, and cartoonist).

TWIST also presents a special workshop, “How to be a Trans Ally,” including the screening of “Genderize,” in which three young siblings share their thoughts on gender. In 2012, transgender filmmaker Chase Joynt sat down with Benton (12), Madeleine (10) and Dexter (6) to talk about gender, puberty, school, and parents. Four years later, he revisited the kids to see what’s changed — but not before the kids flipped the camera on the adults to ask some questions of their own. The result is a poignant, hilarious, and urgent call for a life where family matters, gender is fluid, and everyone gets live a life where they can choose their own adventure. This is a helpful intro to transgender concepts and vocabulary.

Emerson Collins in "A Very Sordid Wedding"

Emerson Collins in “A Very Sordid Wedding”

Following the screening, Aidan Key, director of Gender Diversity and founder of the Gender Odyssey conference, leads an open discussion, which is free and open to all. Questions and thoughts are welcome. Hopefully, you will gain more understanding of gender-nonconforming folks, as well as tools for allyship. The discussion will be followed by a screening of Trans shorts.

TWIST: Seattle Queer Film Festival has been held annually in October since 1996. The festival has grown into the largest event of its kind in the Pacific Northwest, gaining industry and audience recognition for showcasing the latest and greatest in queer film–from major motion picture premieres to emerging talent. An important venue in the Seattle film scene—and highly-anticipated social event of the season—the festival provides unique opportunities for visiting and local filmmakers to engage and entertain over 10,000 attendees.

A Short List of Celebrities attending TWIST

Ian Nelson (Actor, “Freak Show”)
Shane McClelland, Susan Crawford, and Michelle Apgar (cast of “Queer Ghost Hunters”)
Emerson Collins (Actor, “A Very Sordid Wedding”)
Luka Kain (Actor, “Saturday Church”)
Bill Weber (Co-director/editor, “The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin”)
Lyric Seal (cast of “Snapshot”)
Ben DeLaCrème (Special guest, “The Haunting”)
Wes Hurley (Local director, “Little Potato,” “Rusalka”)
Carlos Pendraza (Local writer, “Something Like Summer”)
Danny Tayara (Local director, “The Curse,” “Pizza Roles,” “You’ve Got Tail”)

Galas & Centerpiece Films

Opening Night Gala: “The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin”
SIFF Cinema Uptown – Thu, Oct 12, 7:15PM
Jennifer Kroot & Bill Weber; 2017; USA; 91 min.

Closing Night Gala:  “Freak Show”
AMC Pacific Place – Sun, Oct. 22, 7:00PM
Trudie Styler; 2017; USA; 91 min.

Centerpiece Film: “Saturday Church”
SIFF Cinema Egyptian – Sun, Oct. 15, 7PM
Damon Cardasis; 2017; USA; 81 min.

Centerpiece Film:  “Apricot Groves”
Pouria Heidary Oureh; 2016; Armenia; 80 min.; in Armenian and English with English subtitles

Centerpiece Film:BPM”
AMC Pacific Place – Fri, Oct. 20, 6:45PM
Robin Campillo; 2017; France; 140 min.; in French with English subtitles.

Panel Discussion

SaturGay Morning Panel: Queers & Women in Comics
SIFF Cinema Egyptian – Sat, Oct. 14, 12:15PM
Tickets $5

Workshop: How to be a Trans Ally
“Genderize,” 2017 Audience Award winner for Best Documentary Short, Translations Film Festival
Northwest Film Forum – Thu, Oct. 19, 5PM
FREE: Open to All

Friday the  13th “Queer Ghost Hunters” Screening
Fri, Oct. 13, 9:45pm
Egyptian Theater

SPECIAL NOTE: The Three Dollar Bill Cinema Showcase is Sun, Oct, 22 at 1pm, AMC Pacific Place, includes local films from this year’s Reel Queer Youth summer filmmaking program.

TWIST: Seattle Queer Film Festival runs October 12 to October 22nd at various Seattle locations; festival passes range from $85-$240; regular screening tickets are $11 in advance and $13 at the door, $8 for Three Dollar Bill Cinema members, $9 for people with disabilities, youth under 21, and seniors over 65; Opening, Closing, and Centerpiece film prices range from $15-$33 and include a reception. Five documentaries being shown at 5pm are just $5. For a complete list of festival films and events, go to

About Three Dollar Bill Cinema

Three Dollar Bill Cinema provides access to films by, for, and about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) people and their families, and a forum for LGBTQ+ filmmakers to share and discuss their work with audiences. We curate themed screenings throughout the year and produce programs in partnership with other arts, cultural, and service delivery organizations. Our biggest programs are TWIST: Seattle Queer Film Festival, Translations: Seattle Transgender Film Festival, Reel Queer Youth, and the free Three Dollar Bill Outdoor Cinema in Cal Anderson Park. For more details, visit


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Starla Smith

Starla Smith

Starla Smith is a career journalist, writing features for such publications as The New Yorker, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Daily News, The Des Moines Register, Vibe and a prize-winning Gannett Newspaper. She helped launch Theater Week Magazine and eventually became its publisher. As a regular contributor to Playbill, her interviews and photos were featured in Playbill and Playbill-on-line. Smith was featured in the New York Times "Style" section for her "Word Portraits," specialized tributes, speeches, and presentation profiles. And she covered theater and features for City Search, Digital City, and the Tena Duberry WOW! Radio show. She previously served as astrology guru for Out Magazine, and she hastens to assure her readers that "Starla" is indeed her real name.

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