Merced County Times Newspaper
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Merced Queer Film Festival Returns To Merced, Sept. 8

Even though things were unfortunately delayed due to unexpected circumstances, the much-anticipated Merced Queer Film Festival is returning to Merced for its second installment with a focus of “Celebrating with Pride.”

Come and enjoy a specially-curated selection of films from not only local artists, but around the world, starting Sept. 8, and running through Sept. 10. The festivities will be taking place across a number of esteemed Downtown Merced locations, such as the Multicultural Arts Center (MAC), the Mainzer, and the Merced Theatre. Tickets and information regarding screenings can be found online at:

The Merced Queer Film Festival is an event planned and organized through the collaborations of Workshop 44, Robert Jerome Pagan Creations, and Central Valley Pride, with co-directors Robert Jerome Pagan and Jennifer McQueen heading the ship. Notably, this film festival will be kicking off, and running alongside the Central Valley Pride 2023 Pride Festival in downtown Merced, which will be holding the first ever Merced Queer Battle of the Musicians.

Robert Jerome Pagan, program director for the Merced Queer Film Festival and president of the MQFF Academy, had this to say about his experiences with the event: “My most cherished aspect of the event has been witnessing the incredible gathering of talented queer artists from local, national, and international backgrounds in Merced. Their collective effort to highlight queer cinema and amplify our voices is truly inspiring. Additionally, I appreciate how this festival embraces the diverse range of perspectives within the queer community, acknowledging that each person’s experience is unique and not uniform for all.”

When asked by the Times what make this event unique, he replied by saying, “There are numerous aspects that set MQFF apart and make it truly special. Notably, we’ve earned a remarkable 5-star rating among filmmakers on FilmFreeway, a significant platform within the industry. Our commitment to being community-oriented is unwavering. Moreover, we proudly hold the distinction of being the first Queer Film Festival of its nationwide magnitude to offer complimentary general admission tickets to all films. Additionally, in regard to the Academy of Artists, our voting and awards process involves previous winners, donors, and other members of the film industry.”

This year, the original voice of Mulan from the animated movie is nominated for her role in “Glitter and Doom.” Additionally, a nominee hails from the CW’s latest hit, the new “Walker, Texas Ranger.” Notably, a substantial amount of local talent will also grace the screen, including Colton Dennis, Heike Hambley, and many others.

When asked for a message to the community, Pagan responded with, “My message to the community is a reminder that community signifies diversity. MQFF’s uniqueness lies in its embrace of multiple viewpoints and experiences that collectively weave the fabric of queer culture. A genuine community emerges when we actively engage in listening and finding common ground. No single filmmaker, leader, or activist can represent everyone; instead, our collective responsibility is to advocate for our rights. While MQFF celebrates individual creativity, its foundation rests on the notion that a chorus of voices can bring about transformative change in the world.”

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