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Fresno Reel Pride Film Festival Thrills

Audience+preparing+for+the+viewing+of+%E2%80%98The+Life+of+Lei%3A+The+Man+Behind+The+Makeup%E2%80%99+at+Tower+Theatre+for+Fresno+Reel+Pride+Film+Festival+Thursday%2C+Sept.+20%2C+2018.
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.

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.

Photo by: Toni Woodruff

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

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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.”

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About the Contributor
Toni Woodruff, Reporter

Toni Woodruff is a 19-year-old journalism and communications major at Fresno City College. She was born and raised in Fresno. She graduated from Edison High School in 2016 where she was involved in sports and leadership.

Amongst her many passions, Toni has found herself most at home when writing, especially poetry. She has competed in and won many local poetry slams and was given the opportunity to say an original piece at her graduation, baccalaureate and various Black Student Union events. Toni also spends a considerable amount of time writing short stories that often dismantle stereotypes and stigmas that she is faced with through playful and humorous but serious fiction.

Toni is in place to transfer from Fresno City College in the fall of 2020. She has hopes of going to either San Francisco State University or another university on the east coast. Toni will be going into the public relations field, she shows interest in crisis communications as well as social media management.

Over the years, Toni has had ideas and rudimentary plans on a television series she hopes to one day make come to life. She shows immense concern about the type of representation teens and young adults from all different identities are being exposed to and what stereotypes those media outlets might be pushing instead of challenging.

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