The first annual Newark LGBTQ Film Festival—the first of its kind in New Jersey—is coming to its namesake city from April 14-16.
Beatrice Simpkins, the Newark LGBTQ Community Center executive director—one of the organizers of the event—says her goal is for “the folks of Newark to really own this festival.”
The festival received more than 80 film submissions, including feature-length movies, short films, documentaries and experimental flicks that celebrate the history and future of art from the LGBTQ + BIPOC community in Newark and beyond.
The festival kicks off April 14 with a cocktail reception and a screening of the film The Inspection, followed by a panel featuring Elegance Bratton, the film’s director. The festival is also screening the 2008 documentary Dreams Deferred, which tells the story of Newark’s Sakia Gunn, a member of the LGBTQ+ community who was murdered in 2003. That movie’s director will participate in a panel at the festival, too.
The festival follows the tradition of the center, which opened in response to Gunn’s murder and violence against the queer community. The center is honoring Gunn’s legacy and family members, who are set to attend the festival.
Simpkins says the festival is for the entire community, adding that it will provide opportunities for workshops and networking. She hopes those in attendance will come away feeling visible and celebrated.
Festival organizers also include the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and other community sponsors.
If “people come away from this festival feeling positive about who they are as LGBTQ + BIPOC people in the city and what that represents,” then the festival will be a success, Simpkins says.