For Jonathan Mcneal, LGBT films are as vital now as they were the first year when he and four sponsors presented Dayton’s now iconic festival. ‘Look around. We are under attack again, and that means being vocal, being clear and being strong. Our hope is to educate and build community through the film festival!’
Dayton’s LGBT film festival, a much-respected, much-antipated event, is the longest running LBBT film festival in Ohio.
In it’s 12th year, the festival has one helluva line-up this year. ‘We have some must-sees,’ says McNeal.
‘God’s Own Country‘ is really amazing.’ Indiewire wrote about the film ‘…..It’s a British Brokeback but better…’ One film ‘Rebels on Pointe‘ will actually get two showings due to its overwhelming popularity.
The Dayton LGBT Film Festival runs from October 13-15th. The dates are not by chance. ‘I learned early on that October works best. Films premiere in mid-summer. We want to get what’s hot and fresh. And honestly, we moved from September because Oktoberfest and other festivals are just too much to compete with!’ McNeal adds.
The films are only part of the big weekend. There will be gay-themed items for sale from Agnes and Orson Gifts, and some very special guests. ‘We have six guests attending this year. 3 from SENSITIVITY TRAINING. 1 from ALASKA IS A DRAG. 1 from CURMUDGEONS. 1 from SOMETHING NEW. It’s incredible to see that many folks involved in film-making coming to Dayton. So proud of that!’ (**Spoiler, the actress/guest from Sensitivty Training is from Beavercreek…a local star!)
Sponsorships have grown exponentially from the early days. ‘We have had some sponsors, square one salon and the priority board, that have been involved since the get-go. They had faith in me and the Dayton Community. This year, we are excited to add Westminster Financial and AARP to the mix!’
The festival has had consistent growth and festival passes sell out quickly. The crowds are diverse, and although there are still some in the community who have the ‘not gay, no way’ mentality, that sentiment seems to be changing.
This is an interesting year for the film festival in many ways. ‘5 of the feature films are by women! Our opening film has big names like Bette Midler and LaVerne Cox. And the opening night will end with a great party at Mudlick Tavern.’
The kick-off party, sponsored by Neon Aficionados Lisa Hanuaer and Sue Spiegel, is a great opportunity to discuss the opening film, have a drink and meet the guests. ‘People love the party. It is a great community builder.’
For McNeal, a dozen years after taking his acclaimed RubiGirl Documentary around the LGBT film fest circuit, it feels great to share his vision of a more diverse, more accepting world here at home….in Dayton.
For More information on The Dayton LGBT Film Festival, go to DAYTONLGBT.COM.