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Queer film festival debuts

Andrew Thagard | Wednesday, February 11, 2004

The Queer Film Festival, a four-day event showcasing gay cinematography, debuts tonight at Notre Dame with the award-winning documentary “Jim in Bold” followed by a panel discussion featuring the film’s producer.

The festival – the first of its kind at Notre Dame – may seem, to some, out of place on the campus of a Catholic university, though it offers an intellectual opportunity for the Notre Dame community, according to University spokesman Matt Storin and Liam Dacey, the festival’s organizer.

“We are an academic institution that has a whole [range] of classes, seminars and conferences, and that is what we are all about,” Storin said.

The festival, which will feature a series of film screenings, discussions and a writing workshop and will bring directors, screenwriters and producers to campus, is not specifically sponsored by the University as a whole, but rather by the Gender Studies Program, the Gay and Lesbian Alumni of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s and the Departments of English and Film, Television and Theatre.

“There is a difference between what the University … does in a University-wide sense as opposed to what our academic departments do as part of their missions,” Storin said.

He emphasized that the festival’s aim is to promote academic discourse and does not necessarily reflect the University’s position or views.

“The film festival is being co-sponsored by a number of academic departments,” he said. “I think the fact that faculty and students of the University expressed interest [in this] is not exactly ‘stop the presses’ news. It doesn’t carry any message of endorsement or disparagement … by the University.”

At the same time, Dacey, a senior Film, Television and Theatre major, said he hopes the festival will increase awareness on campus and make progress in dispelling the notion that the Notre Dame community is intolerant of homosexuals, fueled in part by its top ranking in the Princeton Review’s “where alternatives are not an alternative” list.

“We want to create an awareness that the gay members of the Notre Dame community are members like anyone else,” he said. “We also wanted to exhibit a lot of different films by gay artists that you wouldn’t normally see.”

Dacey said the festival’s events should appeal to faculty and students, regardless of their sexual orientation.

“It’s not just for gay people,” he said. “It’s for everyone to enjoy. It’s a way of [bringing] the community together.”

Dacey praised the support of Notre Dame’s academic departments that co-sponsored the festival and that the event has generated a surprising lack of controversy so far.

“We haven’t had any opposition with this,” he said. “We’ll see what happens when the next few days unfold.”