Austin Gay and Lesbian International Film Festival provides platform for fresh voices

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Fall is a great time to be in Austin with the advent of film festival fever that will soon overtake the city.

The nearest fest, which also happens to be the longest-running, is AGLIFF or The Austin Gay and Lesbian International Film Festival. It will take place at both the Alamo Drafthouse and the Paramount Theatre over the course of four days beginning Thursday, Sept. 10.

The festival, which will feature a diverse array of international and regional films, has experienced a great surge of popularity over the past several years due to the increasing attention it has received from the media and the support of Austin’s intellectual community.

“AGLIFF is cool because it gives everyone a chance to see exclusive films that don’t always make it to the theatres,” said Alex Barron, a professor at St. Edward’s University who has served the festival as a programmer and a judge. “It allows up-and-coming filmmakers to develop and explore their talents and receive feedback from a supportive community.”

Some of the highlights of the festival, handpicked by AGLIFF’s new program director Jim Brunzell, include highly acclaimed films such as “Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine,” “Regarding Susan Sontag” and “Appropriate Behavior,” as well as a special mystery screening that is supposed to knock the socks off of film-seekers and is predicted to land a top-notch spot on our list of the year’s top films.

This year, the film festival focuses more than ever on community, stressing on the importance of experiencing art together regardless of gender, sexual orientation or age. This is highlighted especially by the new division of “shorts” or short films.

Rather than grouping the films into men’s and women’s categories, the films are now grouped by genres that men and women can enjoy together. There really are films for every variety of person, ranging from comedy to drama, and every genre in between.

Another interesting aspect of the festival is the fact that it is very community-based and super accessible, with a startlingly cheap entry fee of $5 or $10 per film and $100 per badge, which will gain you entry into every film of the festival.

Even better, students only have to pay $50 per badge, making it much easier to see exclusive films on a budget, which is not something that every college student can boast.

Barron shared some advice for students: “Definitely get involved. Whether you go as a spectator or a volunteer, exposing yourself to Austin’s rich film scene is a great experience, especially for people who love cinema.”

Follow Victoria on Twitter @viacavazos