On April 3 and 4, the SUU Pride Alliance B.W. Bastian Film Festival took place in the Sharwan Smith Student Center Theatre at Southern Utah University. The event, which was part of SUU’s Pride Week, was themed “Pride and Poetry.”
On Monday, April 3, the film “The Revival: Women and the Word” was screened, and a talk back with the film’s director, Sekiya Dorsett, immediately followed. The discussion was facilitated by Utah Shakespeare Festival Interim Artistic Director and Director of New Play Development Derek Charles Livingston.
Tuesday, April 4, featured a showing of the film “Wild Nights with Emily,” as well as a keynote address and Q&A with queer poet Willy Palomo. Palomo is a founding member of Plumas Colectiva, a collective of Latinx literary and art creators, and directed the Utah Humanities Book Festival and Center for the Book at Utah Humanities from 2019-2022, giving them a strong understanding of different cultures in Utah.
“When I was working in Utah humanities, I had the joy of being able to travel all over the state and get to meet a whole bunch of different communities,” said Palomo. “It was always very difficult to get a mixed audience, but when people were in a room, I was always impressed with how much folks were willing to lean to the other side.”
The goal of the festival was to provide a space where queer voices like Palomo’s could be heard through art.
This event took several months to organize and started last semester. Pride Alliance Executive Team Member/Counseling and Psychological Services Counselor, Andrea Donovan, is the principal investigator of the grant. She emphasized the importance and centrality of Film Festival intern Emily Waite’s work on this event.
“This event requires a diverse range of collaborative and leadership-oriented tasks,” said Donovan. “The Film Festival Internship calls for very creative, nuanced sensibilities. Emily Waite was an effective, responsive and insightful collaborator and leader.”
This year of the Festival marked an incredibly important moment to have discussions about queer topics in Utah.
“I think we need to enter these conversations with a lot of compassion and care,” said Palomo. “When you get people who are passionate, sometimes I feel like there’s more middle ground then we like to give credit for.”
This annual festival continues to amplify work and support discussions of queerness in the context of intersectional equity and inclusion, as well as to contribute to the queer community through the arts.
“Where there’s violence and oppression, there’s always resistance; we always fight back, we always respond,” said Donovan. “We never do nothing. There are so many ways we respond to marginalization, and all of these responses are important. Art, queer joy and gathering are resistance to oppression and certainly the work of justice.”
Another goal of the B.W. Bastian Foundation Film Festival is to build and provide support to the queer community.
“This is the first time I’ve experienced hearing student voices in this light. It has allowed me to become a better person and amplify the stories that will go on to inspire others,” said Waite.
Article and photos by: Tessa Cheshire