While this season marks only the third edition of Queer Takes at the Walker, the series continues a rich history of LGBT cinema in the Twin Cities that started in the late 1980s with Jenni Olson’s series Lavender Images, which grew into a program at Film in the Cities, which initiated the first Minneapolis/St. Paul LGBT Film Festival. In 1995, the University Film Society picked up the festival and the series continued for the next few years at the Bell Auditorium, when I offered to assist in the programming. In 1999 the University Film Society and Oak Street Cinema merged, and the festival continued over the next few years at Oak Street until Minnesota Film Arts could no longer produce the festival and the Walker launched Queer Takes.
This new edition of Queer Takes has deep connections to the institution. Abigail Child, whose work was included in the 2006 Women with Vision Festival and is part of the Walker’s collection, has a new documentary on the African American male “downlow” scene. Gregg Araki presented his early feature film Long Weekend O’ Despair at the Walker in May 1989. In 1992 Araki’s The Living End, which had an area premiere at the Walker as a 16mm print, returns in an enhanced version through a high-definition transfer and a remixed sound track.
This year’s Queer Takes also spotlights filmmakers focusing on those fighting for dignity and their place in the world, made manifest in brutally honest characters such as the aging hustler in Before I Forget and the intersexed teen in XXY. By focusing on the important work being preserved by the Outfest Legacy Project, the Walker hopes to support the history of groundbreaking films that pushed boundaries for the LGBT community such as Lizzie Borden’s Born in Flames and Bill Sherwood’s Parting Glances. In order to move forward, we need to look back and respect others who have blazed trails of acceptance that we often take for granted.
—Dean Otto, assistant curator, Film/Video