by Danielle Connor
I spent this past spring on the road doing publicity for WIFV/NE member Kaitlin Meelia’s first film, “Play in the Gray“.
All The Kings Men (ATKM), the drag-based theater troupe the film follows, promoted the film for over a year, playing the trailer at their shows and getting fans excited. Their dedicated fan base commented on the film’s Facebook page, reposted our announcements, and contributed money to keep the campaign going.
Our world-premiere, however, was at the Atlanta Film Festival – where ATKM’s fan base is much smaller. “Play in the Gray” is an intimate portrait of ATKM – their art, lives, and coming out stories. We knew from rough cut screenings that the film provokes deep thoughts in audience members of all persuasions about their own gender and sexuality. In collaboration with groups working to educate on acceptance and advocate for equality, the film is a conversation catalyst that has the power to provoke change. I started contacting local LGBT advocacy and community groups weeks in advance of the premiere.
We were welcomed with open arms by the LGBT community in Atlanta, as they blasted their lists, helped publicize our screenings, offered quotes for local press, and helped coordinate an after-party. The crew and members of ATKM were present, the troupe offering an entertaining performance following the screening. For Meelia, and all those involved, the experience of premiering in Atlanta, a festival with such rich history, was a real honor.
After an inspiring screening at Lynchburg College in Virgina, we continued to the Indie Spirit Film Festival in Colorado Springs, CO. Celebrating it’s third year, this festival seems ready for the long-haul with Director Chris Loud, and a cast of dedicated supporters. Everyone kept thanking us for coming to Colorado Springs with “Play in the Gray,” explaining that awareness around LGBT issues was much needed in the region. We met with young people from the Palmer High School Gay Straight Alliance and OutYouth Services who all described the large population of conservative Christian groups surrounding the city as their greatest source of oppression. The Q&A following the film was vibrant – one mother traveled 3 hours to watch the film with her lesbian daughter, and members of the Denver transgender community made a special trip for the screening.
We couldn’t wait to return to Boston. Upon acceptance to the Boston LGBT Film Festival, WIFV/NE jumped on board as a co-sponsor and our friends in the LGBT and film community helped spread the word. The screening sold out.
June 3 at the Stuart Street Playhouse in Boston, Meelia hosted an independent screening of the film and Boston audiences once again showed up to support “Play in the Gray.” ATKM’s fan base and the LGBT community came, in addition to other lovers of film, mothers, brothers, fathers, parents, cousins – humans of varied ages who are interested in exploring the edges of individuality, self-expression, and comedy.
This fall our goal is to screen the film in festivals, at colleges, and in theaters across the country. It recently screened at the Cambodia LGBT Film Festival, and we’re looking forward to more surprising locations near and far. You can see it at the Rhode Island International Film Festival in August. Stay tuned for details.