The Central Valley’s LGBT community will celebrate with film and festivities next weekend.
The separate events, the MoFest! 8 film festival Sept. 26 at the Gallo Center for the Arts and MoPRIDE in the Park at Graceada Park, will highlight and support the area’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender population and their allies. The events are not associated, and run by different nonprofit groups, but both hope to bring together the community in the spirit of pride celebrations in major metropolitan areas like San Francisco and New York.
MoFest is organized by and raises funds for the Modesto chapter of PFLAG (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays). This year’s event will feature nine short films, from six to 19 minutes each.
PFLAG Modesto board President Bill Dotinga said this is the second year the festival has focused solely on short films. Most of the shorts tell stories of young people and coming out. But, Dotinga said, each offers a different perspective on the well-trod subject of accepting one’s sexual orientation.
“They are sweet, awkward stories about coming out and discovering who they are. It’s a genre that is way overdone, but each of these tell sort of a unique story different from the ones we’ve seen so often in the genre,” he said. “And people really like the short-film genre. You can get little snippets of life stories. And if there is a film you don’t particularly like, you know you don’t have to sit very long until it’s over.”
Dotinga said the tone of this year’s selections is largely lighter than last year, with more humor and fun interspersed into the stories. This year’s lineup are the films “Jackpot,” “Babysitting Andy,” “Sam,” “Mum,” “Under the Table,” “33 Teeth, “Grotto,” “Yeah Kowalski!” and “The Language of Love.”
“The Language of Love,” by filmmaker Laura Scrivano, has won raves from talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres and actor Stephen Fry.
While the films have LGBT themes, Dotinga said they should appeal to everyone.
“MoFest is a cultural event for the community,” he said. “It’s more of a night at the movies rather than a night at the LGBT movies.”
Modesto’s official pride celebration, MoPRIDE, returns this year with an all-new leadership and nonprofit organization spearheading the effort. After last year’s event, the previous group quietly stepped away. Community members, led by married couple Bret Lampman and John Welsh, established the MoPRIDE nonprofit to put on the annual celebration and provide additional outreach throughout the year.
“When we realized the last pride organization was dissolved and there was going to be no pride, we said, ‘What can be done about this?’ ” Lampman said.
The nonprofit organization started in June and things came together quickly for the new group. There are 11 members on the board, and the group has held fundraisers and worked with area businesses to help sponsor a somewhat scaled down event this year.
The event will relocate in Graceada Park from the Mancini Bowl, which had been its previous home, to the smaller pavilion nearby. The event will include information, merchandise and food vendors, a beer garden, live entertainment and DJ music. New this year will be a variety of sporting events, including a doubles tennis tournament, 5K run/walk and ladies flag football exhibition. A teen garden for area youth will be run by The Place support group.
“I hope people have an enjoyable day with their own community,” Lampman said. “The idea is that this organization will continue for many years, not just to put on pride celebrations but to serve the entire LGBT population.”