It’s no secret in the LGBT community that accurate representation – or representation at all – has always been seriously lacking in the mainstream media. From sitcom cancellations like Ellen in the 1990s to the hackneyed stereotypes on shows like The L Word, and the “bury your gays” trope on shows like The 100, LGBT cinematic history has been awash with marred, inauthentic characterization. Occasionally, the media gods graced the public with a few gems, but for the most part, LGBT stories have always been on the proverbial “B” reel. This very pattern is something that AS220’s Cocktails and Screens events are hoping to change. This year, the program will host its first ever LGBT screening event in celebration of Pride Month.
From the genesis of Cocktails and Screens in September 2018, the staff has always been on the lookout for diverse filmmakers. “Right from the start, our mission was to provide a platform to tell diverse stories and not shy away from any subject,” says Jimmy Caputo, co-founder and co-host of the film program. Jimmy recognized early on that there are a lot of voices that have been silenced by Hollywood. The program has screened films pertaining to several serious topics including rape, abuse, autism, homelessness, conversion therapy, and Middle-Eastern conflict. So, when LGBT filmmakers and directors reached out to him in the early part of this year, he did not hesitate to dedicate a night to their work where people could enjoy art from a different perspective. Says Jimmy, “We are interested in giving everyone an equal voice.”
Cocktails and Screens is unique because it gives the audience the chance to interact with the directors after they watch their films and have more in-depth conversations about the work they just experienced. Jimmy says that many of the works screened at the event are meant to entertain, but the shorts have more of an agenda. They are trying to convey a poignant message and start an open, intellectual conversation about the issue. He also explains that these film festivals are special because the participants are passionate about their work. You won’t see a hyper-produced, cliched piece made to make a killing at the box office here. “Whether or not a given film or genre is your cup of tea, hearing the filmmakers speak passionately about their work, it’s hard not to become endeared to their project or at least to respect their efforts.” Cocktails and Screens Pride Event will be held June 6.