Classic queer films at BAM/PFA

  • by Jim Provenzano
  • Tuesday February 21, 2023
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A scene from Cheryl Dunye's 'The Watermelon Woman'
A scene from Cheryl Dunye's 'The Watermelon Woman'

Movie theaters are closing in record numbers, but some of us still enjoy the collective experience of a shared screening, particularly with LGBTQ-themed films.

Beginning on March 3, the UC Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive will host a two-month series called Pioneers of Queer Cinema. The Bay Area installment is part of a nationwide tour that highlights some of the most important LGBTQ films to emerge from American independent cinema over the past half-decade.

The national tour is organized by UCLA Film and Television Archive. The BAM/PFA edition highlights several iconic films that are especially noteworthy for their Bay Area connections, including Rob Epstein's "The Times of Harvey Milk" and "Tongues Untied," directed by Marlon Riggs (1957-1994), who lived in Oakland.

Also screening is the recently restored "Paris is Burning," the classic documentary about New York City's Black and fabulous ballroom culture, and one of the first AIDS-themed feature films, "Parting Glances," by Bill Sherwood.

Each feature will be preceded by some terrific short films, like Peggy Rajski's "Trevor," Barbara Hammer's "I Was/I Am," and Arthur J. Bressan Jr.'s "Coming Out."

The series of screenings will also include talks with notable filmmakers, actors and scholars, like Jenni Olsen, Susan Stryker, and Cheryl Dunye, who will attend the screening of her indie classic, "The Watermelon Woman."

For the full schedule (through May 3 at 2155 Center St. Berkeley) and to buy tickets ($5-$14), visit