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Scene from Kama'āina

Scene from Kama'āina (Photo courtesy of DC Shorts)

Despite the coronavirus pandemic halting most in-person events, the annual DC Shorts International Film Festival will continue for its 17th year. This year’s showcase will look different than others, returning virtually with 163 films and free online events. The event kicks off on September 10 and runs through September 23.

The festival includes 21 LGBTQ films with queer characters of diverse ages and backgrounds. While many of these films are within the designated LGBTQ category, eight of them will be shown across different showcases. Throughout various genres are examples of queerness at the intersections of race, family, love, and heritage.

According to Joe Bilancio, DC Shorts’ programming director, the variety of LGBTQ films throughout the festival are a way to bring LGBTQ experiences to the masses.

“We have the luxury of working with two different audiences because we do have a queer audience within this general audience,” says Bilancio.

Some of the LGBTQ films that will be available at the virtual event include:

BLACKN3SS: Between melanin and far away planets, BLACKN3SS proposes a dive into the journey of the black youth of the São Paulo city. A documentary on blackness, queerness, and spacial aspirations of the diaspora’s children.

The Fabric of You: Unable to show his true identity, Michael, a grieving tailor mouse, recounts sand reckons with the memories of a past lover in this animated short film.

I Love Your Guts: Two girls working the graveyard shift at a fast food restaurant fend off a belligerent drunk guy while also confronting their own friendship.

Kama’āina: Mahina, a queer 16-year-old girl, must navigate life on the streets in Oahu, until she eventually finds refuge at the Pu’uhonua o Wai’anae—Hawai’i’s largest organized homeless encampment.

T: A film crew follows three grieving participants of Miami’s annual T Ball, where folks assemble to model R.I.P. t-shirts and innovative costumes designed in honor of their dead.

Translucent: In this short documentary, filmmaker Azzan Quick documents their struggles and triumphs exploring their own gender identity and figuring out unapologetic ways to explain it to friends and family.

Although the festival loses the personal connection of hosting filmmakers and film lovers in person, Bilancio is confident the virtual component will add rather than subtract.

“We’re trying to keep a lot of the things that made us who we are—it’s just a matter of transferring them and seeing how they translate into this online world,” he explains. “We’re still trying to do virtually everything we did in the past.”


Passes run for $12 per showcase, with all access passes sold for $75. Tagg readers can get $20 off all access passes with the code “Tagg20.”




Clare Mulroy
Clare Mulroy
Clare Mulroy is a freelance journalist and trending reporter at USA TODAY. She is a recent graduate of American University and has experience covering entertainment, health, politics, breaking news and climate change. She is currently based in New York City.