Fresno Reel Pride Film Festival Thrills


Photo by: Toni Woodruff

Audience preparing for the viewing of ‘The Life of Lei: The Man Behind The Makeup’ at Tower Theatre for Fresno Reel Pride Film Festival Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018.

Story By: Toni Woodruff, Reporter

The five day Reel Pride Film Festival returned to Tower District on Sept. 19 – 23 with more than 40 films celebrating the LGBTQ community.

“It’s the only place where the gay is the star,” Tiana Perez, former member of the board of directors of Fresno Reel Pride, said. This year, Fresno Reel Pride celebrated 29 years.

“Tonight is the biggest crowd that I’ve seen in a really long time,” Perez said. “I think a lot of it has to do with Leilani.”

Paul Hernandez, a local drag queen better known by his stage name, Leilani Price, premiers in his own film, “The LIfe of Lei: The Man Behind The Makeup,” a documentary. Leilani Price brought a host of newcomers to Fresno Reel Pride.

Karina Rodriguez and Rose Margaryan said they attended the Fresno Reel Pride Film Festival for the first time this year in support of Leilani.

“She’s bridging the gap so there is more love and less hate not only in Tower and Fresno but in the Central Valley,” Rodriguez said.

Both Rodriguez and Margaryan described Leilani as a “trailblazer” for her efforts in the LGBTQ community such as Drag Queen Story Hour, an event where drag queens get the opportunity to read to children.

Fresno Reel Pride played in both Tower Theatre and Vista Theatre.
“There’s all types of films, but there are also family friendly films too,” Perez said.

Perez said the Fresno Reel Pride Film Festival is about spreading awareness and celebrating the LGBTQ community through film and giving gay men and women a place to belong.

“It’s really cool,” he said, “to see yourself portrayed on the big screen and not a background character.”