Twisted Arts Film Festival spreads local and global LGBTQ2+ stories

On Nov. 9-13, Twisted Arts held its second annual film festival, celebrating LGBTQ2+ cinema, at the Circle Cinema (10 S. Lewis Ave, Tulsa, OK). The festival featured 10 films as well as live appearances, panels, and performances from Honey Mahogany, Mink Stole, Peaches Christ, and Sara Cunningham.

One of the most popular live appearances was the show prior to “All About Evil,” featuring Peaches Christ, the director; and Mink Stole, the actor. Peaches Christ became familiar with Mink Stole from John Waters, a gay filmmaker of transgressive cult films. Stole said, “The gift that John gave me is the same gift he gave all of you, a place in the world where you wanted to be in.”

Mink Stole and Peaches Christ perform prior to the showing of the movie, “All About Evil.” Photo by Zane Yost.

This idea permeated throughout the festival. Kevin Lovelace, founder of Twisted Arts, said, “Twisted Arts is dedicated to advancing, celebrating, elevating, and amplifying LGBTQ+ artists by showcasing the best independent films, music, performances, and all forms of mixed media.”

Lovelace noticed in 2018 that Tulsa did not have an LGBTQ+ film festival. He started creating a nonprofit to spread marginalized stories through the medium of film.

He said, “I started working at film festivals in 2000 in Chicago, which is where I discovered my love for film and festivals.” He worked as the creator and programmer for the Pittsburgh Underground Film Festival, as well as on the board of the directors and juries of different film festivals. Twisted Arts Film Festival made its debut in 2021. The festival opened with a locally shot, directed, and produced film, “The Sounds of Identity,” a documentary about the first ever transgender woman performing an opera lead in the U.S. with a professional company, the Tulsa Opera.

The organization seeks to highlight both local and global LGBTQ+ artists throughout the year with programs, including the Twisted Arts Film Festival, monthly film screenings and performances, and an LGBTQ+ youth filmmaking summer camp.

The international films included “Sirens,” a documentary about a lesbian metal band in Lebanon, and “Moneyboys,” a film about a Chinese gay man.

Lovelace said, “Moneyboys began filming in China, but due to the authorities’ anti-LGBTQ+ stance, it was deemed too unsafe, and so production moved to Taiwan. We want to tell stories from around the world because representation matters! It is mind blowing to me that in a country of over 1 billion people, there is so little representation of Chinese LGBTQ+ artists.

The festival also displayed indigenous LGBTQ+ representation with films such as “Wildhood,” a film about the coming-of-age story of a rebellious Mi’kmaw teenager, and “Pure Grit,” a documentary about a growing up queer on Wyoming’s Wind River reservation.

Tulsa is no stranger to attacks against LGBTQ2+ spaces, such as the Donut Hole shop vandalism in October of this year or the attack on the Dennis R. Neill Equality Center in 2017. Twisted Arts has been recognized to celebrate LGBTQ+ people through its exhibition of art forms that address bigotry and prepare people to be accepting of others through this medium.

More information about Twisted Arts events can be found on its website.

The Circle Cinema, 10 S. Lewis Ave., according to its mission, is to use film to foster understanding and appreciation of the diversity of the human experience and create community among its movie goers. Photo by Zane Yost.