CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Reel Out Charlotte film festival returns to Camp North End, 1824 Statesville Ave., for a newly expanded week of film screenings and special events April 28-May 5, organizers announced. A program of Charlotte Pride, the 11th annual film festival is presented by American Airlines and Rosedale Medical. The event will feature several local and regional premieres, including some of the past year’s most widely praised cinematic releases.

“Reel Out Charlotte is a film festival devoted to highlighting the experiences of LGBTQ people,” said Daniel Valdez, president of the Charlotte Pride Board of Directors. “LGBTQ themes and storylines are still often left out or toned down in mainstream American cinema and outright censored in other places across the globe. We’re proud to present an opportunity for members of the local LGBTQ community to see our lives, our loves, our triumphs and our challenges uniquely played out on the big screen.”

Among the films to be screened are: May 2, 7:30 p.m., “They” — A 2017 feature-length drama, also making its Charlotte premiere, telling the story of a non-binary Chicago teenager exploring their gender identity; May 3, 7 p.m., “Rafiki” — A 2018 Kenyan feature-length drama initially banned from its home country due to its portrayal of a lesbian romantic storyline — with a Pride reception in partnership with Charlotte Black Pride and Charlotte Pride held from 5:30-7 p.m.; May 4, 3 p.m., “Tucked” — A 2019 British film making its Charlotte premiere. This feature-length drama explores the relationship between an older drag queen and a new-to-the-scene performer. “Tucked” & Tipsy Drag Brunch precedes the film screening at 1:45 p.m. Admission is $20 and includes brunch-style hors d’oeuvres, two mimosa drink tickets, drag performances and the film screening; May 4, 9 p.m., “Wild” (“Sauvage”) — A 2018 French feature-length drama which follows the story of a 22-year-old sex worker, starring Félix Maritaud of 2017’s award-winning film “BPM” (Beats Per Minute) — a 2018 Reel Out Charlotte selection (This North Carolina premiere was met with controversy at its debut at the Cannes Film Festival in 2018, where some critics walked out of the screening due to its honest and frank depiction of the lead character’s experiences.);  May 5, 5 p.m., “Gay Chorus Deep South” — a 2019 film which made its debut at this spring’s Tribeca Film Festival, making its Southeastern U.S. regional premiere during Reel Out Charlotte. This feature-length documentary follows the Gay Men’s Chorus of San Francisco during their 2018 tour through the Deep South, including scenes from their stop in Charlotte. The screening is preceded by a special performance from the Gay Men’s Chorus of Charlotte.

Other films making their local or regional premieres during the film festival include: “Sorry Angel,” April 28, 6 p.m., followed by a panel discussion on the representation of HIV and the AIDS crisis in film; “Freelancers Anonymous,” preceded by a Women’s Reception, April 30, 6 p.m.; “Brief Story from the Green Planet” (“Breve historia del planeta verde”), May 1, 9 p.m., presented with Charlotte Latinx Pride; and “When the Beat Drops,” Friday, May 3, 9 p.m.

TransMilitary,” will screen on May 4, 7 p.m., presented with Charlotte Trans Pride and followed by a talkback/panel discussion with transgender veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces.  Among the several panelists are: Kelli Baron, who served for two years in the U.S. Navy as an Electrician’s Mate (Nuclear) as a 3rd Class Petty Officer, and Adrian Chavez, who served nearly five years as a Nuclear Machinist Mate as a 2nd Class Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy. The moderator for the panel is Charlotte Pride Board of Directors Vice President Nan Bangs, Commander, U.S. Coast Guard Reserve (ret.). Bangs, who is cisgender, served for 22 years, partly under the now-repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. Notable missions for Bangs included 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and the BP Oil Spill. The documentary chronicles the lives of four individuals defending their country’s freedom while fighting for their own, coming out as transgender to top brass officials in the Pentagon in hopes of attaining the equal right to serve. The ban on transgender service members was initially lifted in 2016, with President Donald Trump now re-instating the ban.

The film festival’s opening reception on April 28, 5-7 p.m., will include out transgender actor and director of color Nava Mau. Free and open to the public, the reception will feature short remarks from Mau and a screening of her short drama “Waking Hour.” Hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar will be available.

Other special events include Reel Out Charlotte’s Annual Short Films Showcase, a free community screening of the best in recent LGBTQ-themed short films. Audience members will be invited to vote on their favorite film, which will be awarded Best Short-Viewers’ Choice. The shorts showcase will be held May 1, with doors opening at 6:30 p.m., and short films beginning at 7 p.m.

Other free film screenings and events include a screening of the documentary “Families Like Yours,” presented by EY in partnership with PFLAG Charlotte, May 2, 6 p.m., and “From Stonewall to Selma,” May 4, 5 p.m. Both free screenings will be followed by panel discussions discussing the films and current topics.

A detailed schedule of film screenings, special events, film trailers and ticket purchases can be found online. All-access passes are $40 each and include a pack of 10 tickets and special perks including plush lounge seating provided by West Elm. Individual film screenings are $5 each.


Lainey Millen

Lainey Millen was formerly QNotes' associate editor, special assignments writer, N.C. and U.S./World News Notes columnist and production director from 2001-2019 when she retired.