September 3, 2014  •  by Jane Carter

aGLIFF: Educating & Supporting the LGBT Community Through Film

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Celebrating its 27th year, aGLIFF (Austin Gay & Lesbian International Film Festival) has seen unprecedented growth since it inception. Expanding from a small, four-day run of four films to a multifaceted non-profit running community programs year-round, the organization culminates with their annual film festival, which features over 100 films covering a wide range of issues from race and immigration status to religion and gender identity. So what does it take to organize a festival of this magnitude? We sat down with aGLIFF Executive Director Aaron Yeats for more on the festival, how it’s grown over 27 years and his tips for organizing your own event. __________________________________________________________________________________________ 0493c27Ticketbud: Tell us a little bit about the festival! Aaron Yeats: aGLIFF is the 4th oldest Gay & Lesbian Film Festival in the country. This year aGLIFF celebrates 27 years. Excitingly – this year – we return to the all-new Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar. We open this year with a special screening of “Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine” – with guests Judy and Dennis Shepard and the director of the film. Each evening a post evening party is hosted for festival badge holders and guests. This year, over the course of five days, we are showcasing more than 100 films, with four parties and unlimited air-conditioning! aGLIFF 2013 Badge Holders receive entry to all films, parties and special events. Badges start at $100 and   individual tickets are $5 before 5PM and $10 for screenings after 5PM. People can buy badges and individual tickets on TB: How did you come to be involved with aGLIFF? AY: Personally, I became involved in 1997 as a freshman at The University of Texas at Austin. It was my first experience in gay culture. I was too young to visit bars and in 1997 very few young people were out and open regarding their sexuality. Over the last 18 years I’ve enjoyed hundreds of films, made countless friendships, all of which has driven me to volunteering and supporting the festival. TB: What are some your favorite parts/experiences of the festival? AY: Community. aGLIFF brings folks out of their various personal circles and into a single place where they can share a common experience. Enjoying a film is a simple way to create a bond  with other folks – whether sharing the ticket line or sitting next to a stranger and soon-to-be friend. agliff3 TB: In it’s more than 27 years of existence, aGLIFF has seen tremendous growth. Tell us more about that growth, the impact you’ve seen in the community and what the future looks like for   the festival. AY: aGLIFF started as a 10-day festival screening two films an evening. In the launch years of aGLIFF – most stories were those of HIV/AIDS. Over the last quarter century LGBT film and stories have become the story of friendship, love, family and community. agliff2 We are no longer a festival of queer community challenges – we are a festival for everyone – as we all have out and proud brothers, sisters, cousins, colleagues and friends. Queer culture has moved from the  underground to one of pride and cultural anchors for many cities. TB: What has organizing the festival been like? What advice would you offer to others organizing similar events? AY: Festival and event organization is never easy, but it is always fun! The gratifying experience of watching an event develops from the ground up and in the end seeing the laughter, smiles and developing friendships (and love). 999805_10153542227955433_986673141_n Festivals are born from long days and many hours – of course. Festival planning requires passion and dedication. My recommendation – you must love the experience you are creating. And in the end – it’s always worth it to see your audience experience your own passion and enjoyment. TB: Any other information you’d like to pass along for people interested in attending the fest? AY: The festival includes a badge-holder lounge sponsored by Deep Eddy Vodka. Between films, badge holders can mingle and enjoy cocktails before joining the line for their next film.  Individual tickets before 5PM are only $5 and after 5PM are $10. These prices are below the general admission prices for Alamo Drafthouse films, and for a very specific reason – this festival is about community just as much as it is about film. We are offering this festival experience to a many people as possible and cost.]]]]> ]]>