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TJ Murphy, executive director of Pittsburgh’s Reel Q Film Festival
Pittsburgh’s Reel Q film festival celebrates 35 years this October. In this episode, executive director TJ Murphy highlights some of the organization’s history. Reel Q is the longest running LGBTQ+ film festival in the region (as well as the sixth longest running in the world), and Murphy shares some memorable moments. For him, the festival is about community, coming together, and the conversations that take place with each film. He explains how he stumbled across a flyer at (now-defunct) Pittsburgh Filmmakers and began his tenure with the organization as a volunteer. Learn about what changes are in store for this year’s virtual programming, including Murphy’s can’t-miss suggestions and details on their drive-in movie event on Oct. 17.
Reel Q’s history
Reel Q Founder Rich Cumming is quoted as saying that the major motivation for the festival was the book, “The Celluloid Closet,” by Vito Russo. The book exposes how gays have been portrayed in film over the last 70 years, and focuses on the stereotypes and oppression that Hollywood mainstream films perpetuate. And as such, having an LGBTQ film festival is important and worthwhile; it gives an opportunity to show the issues and problems the gay community faces and to break down these stereotypes.
Another history highlight is Reel Q’s local premiere of “Before Stonewall,” a documentary that details the history of the LGBTQ+ movement in America. It was first shown in Pittsburgh in 1984, for multiple years afterward, and again to a packed house at the Warhol Museum in 2019.
What are Murphy’s can’t-miss films this year?
“All of them,” he jokes, before mentioning “The Rehabilitation of the Hill,” a lesbian love story shot almost entirely in Pittsburgh’s Hill District; “Alice Junior,” a Brazilian film about a transgender teen; the Black Excellence programming, which features six films that highlight queer black experiences all around the world; and the drive-in movie showing “Hellbent” (considered to be the first gay slasher film).
For all the details on Reel Q’s 35 Anniversary Film Festival or to purchase tickets, head to their website.
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