appalachian queer film festival huntington west virginia

After a three-year hiatus, the Appalachian Queer Film Festival returns to West Virginia. Following stints in Lewisburg, Morgantown, and Charleston, the 2023 festival will be held in Huntington October 6-8 at the Foundry Theater located downtown inside of City Hall.

Founded in 2014, the festival’s mission is to promote Queer and Trans film and filmmakers across the world, to offer Queer and Trans content to the underserved Appalachian region, and to discover and amplify LGBTQ+ artists in the Appalachian region.

Friday, opening night, will feature KOKOMO CITY, a documentary about trans sex workers in New York and Georgia, which won jury awards at both Sundance and Berlinale. After the screening, there will be a live Q&A with two of the lead actresses, Dominique Silver and Daniella Carter.

Saturday night will feature, QUEER FOR FEAR, a docu-series that discusses queernand trans narratives in the horror genre. We’ll be screening Episode 3, which has a thread on the cruel pseudo-scientific practice of conversion therapy, which the City of Huntington recently banned. Following the screening, there will be a live Q&A with series director, Tom Maroney, who is also a West Virginia native. The afterparty will start at 9pm at Stonewall nightclub featuring drag performances from the East End Ghouls group queens.

Sunday, They will also feature student films and international films, many of which have a rural theme, connection, or context. For the first time, AQFF will feature local filmmakers as well as multiple world and regional premieres.

The festival will also feature panels with experts and activists discussing LGBTQ+ issues in the region, such as drag show bans, transphobic legislation, book bans, and “don’t say gay” bills. We will also be hosting an afterparty for a chance for attendees and community to connect more.

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“We feel that Huntington is a perfect fit,” said Festival Co-Director, Jon Matthews. “The City’s ban on conversion therapy really impressed me, so I reached out to city council member, Tia Rumbaugh, and things just snowballed from there.” According to Matthews, Council Member Rumbaugh connected the festival with Huntington’s Foundry Theater, which has agreed to host the three-day event.

“We feel that the Appalachian Queer Film Festival is an important institution and we’re proud to host the festival,” said Rachel Allinder, Founder of Foundry Theater, a nonprofit arts organization.

The festival’s announcement comes as the West Virginia legislature has introduced several bills that threaten the LGBTQ community. But AQFF organizers say that Huntington is a bright spot for the state.

“In 2019, the Human Rights Campaign gave Huntington a perfect score in a report on LGBTQ inclusion, making it the most LGBTQ-friendly city in West Virginia,” said J Gallliene, AQFF Board Member and Co-Director, “and we’re so proud to show it off to filmmakers coming from outside the region.”

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**Press release and images provided by AQFF

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