LONG BEACH -- Harris Glenn Milstead is better known by his stage persona: Divine, the larger-than-life drag queen recognized for, among other things, acting in John Waters films such as "Pink Flamingos" and "Hairspray."
Milstead's life -- from his humble beginnings as an overweight, teased Baltimore youth to his status as underground royalty -- is told in the documentary "I Am Divine," which will be screened next month as part of the QFilm Festival. The film also explores how the late Divine challenged the status quo of body image, gender identity and sexuality.
Long Beach's longest-running film festival since 1993, the QFilm Festival, presents narrative features, documentaries and short films about the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community.
This year's festival will be held Sept. 6-8.
"This year has been a banner year," said Ron Sylvester, president and chairman of The Center. "We received more than 150 submissions of feature films, documentaries and shorts, the most we've ever received.
"That tells us that QFilms is now viewed as one of the most significant LGBTQ film festivals in the country."
The festival will open with the Long Beach premieres of two award- winning features: "Reaching for the Moon," about lesbian poet Elizabeth Bishop, and Darren Stein's comedy "G.B.F.," starring Megan Mullally ("Will and Grace"), Natasha Lyonne, Horatio Sanz and Jonathan Silverman.
In "G.B.F.," a fight for supremacy between a school's most popular girls takes an unexpected turn when another classmate becomes the school's first openly gay student. As a result, the "gay best friend" becomes a magnetic for artificial friendships.
Other films on the schedule include James Franco's and Travis Mathews' "Interior. Leather Bar."; and the romantic-satire "Who's Afraid of Vagina Wolf"?
"Interior: Leather Bar" is based on the controversial 1980 film "Cruising" starring Al Pacino as an undercover cop investigating a murder in the NYC gay leather bar scene. The director of "Cruising" cut 40 minutes of sexually explicit material from the movie, which has never been seen publicly.
In their film, Franco and Mathews imagine what might have happened in those lost scenes.
Last year's festival was the most successful yet with over 1,200 attendees, a 20 percent increase from 2011, Sylvester said.
Many filmmakers and film cast members will attend the festival for audience discussions after each screening.
Festival events will feature parties and opportunities for attendees to meet and mingle with filmmakers, actors, critics and other industry professionals.
Jury awards will be given to films in several categories.
The QFilm Festival will open Sept. 6 and close Sept. 8. Film showings will take place at the Art Theatre, 2025 E. Fourth St, and the neighboring Long Beach Gay and Lesbian Center, 2017 E. Fourth St.
Advance tickets will go onsale Aug. 12 at qfilmslongbeach.com. The website will also have complete screening times and venues.
All net proceeds from the festival will benefit The Center.
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