HughE Dillon: QFest Film Festival

Amber Rose and more at the kickoff of 18th annual movie event.

Opening night of the 18th Annual QFest kicked off with a pre-party at Cafe Nola. Running till July 23rd (my birthday by the way), the festival will be screening 107 films—including 42 feature films, 13 documentaries, 52 short films, seven world premieres, one North American premiere, two U.S. premieres, 16 East Coast premieres, and 26 Philadelphia premieres. Thom Cardwell, director of development for QFest, with James Duggan, Queertimes.

At the pre-party, I ran into a lot of old friends, sometimes ones I only see once a year doing the film festival. Below: Michael Marsico, Philadelphia Fight, Renee Gilinger, East Passyunk Avenue Business Improvement District, and Matthew Ray, ChatterBlast Media.

Below: At the Ritz East for the opening night movie, Elliot Loves, Gloria Casarez, Mayor Nutter’s director of LGBT affairs, opened the evening by presenting Thom Cardwell and a proclamation congratulating the 18th Annual festival. With her are long-time QFest volunteers Bryon Lee and John Lyons.

Below: Model and Smirnoff Vodka spokesperson Amber Rose, surrounded by the Smirnoff girls, hosted the after-party at Table 31. Amber tells me that the first place she went to when she arrived back home was Max’s Steaks at Broad and Erie in North Philly, her favorite place and old stomping grounds. Wednesday night she had a reunion at her hotel, the Ritz Carlton. Her mom (who named her Amber because she was born in the fall when the leaves were that color) and cousins hung out with her. She loves coming back to Philly.

I caught up with the cast of Elliott Loves, a story of a man’s search for love and his relationship with his mother who is also on the same path. The movie cost $80,000 to make and took more than an entire year to film because the director, Terracino, had to keep raising money during the process. Recently, the movie won the Audience Award for Best Feature at the 2012 Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival. Below: Cedric Leiba Jr., Quentin Aroujo, Elena Goode, Terracino, and Juan Caceres.

Below: Heather Coutts and Kelly Burkhardt.

Below: Breaking Glass Pictures’ Susan Helfrich and Rich Wolff. They have two films in the festival this year, Our Paradise and Nate & Margaret.

Below: PR rep Sara Ann Kelly (her girlfriend, chef Christina Wilson, is still surviving after five weeks on Hell’s Kitchen—pretty darn good), Randal Mrazik, GM of Uncle’s and Tavern on Camac, Tara Lessard, Gay Philly Calendar, and WMMR’s Pierre Robert. Tara said Elliot Loves was a poignant film, with a deeper understanding of self-awareness. She loved it.

Below: Curtis P. Mason, Roz Fulton and Belmo Mayers.

Below: When Amber Rose was posing with fans, I noticed Wiz Khalifa’s mom, Katie “Peachie” Wimbush, was sitting at her VIP table. Tickets are still available for QFest, and if you’re not into movies, the parties are very fun, too. I would say that there was a good percentage of people attending the party at Table 31 who only went to the party and didn’t see the movie.