Your Guide to the NC Gay and Lesbian Film Festival

The North Carolina Gay and Lesbian Film Festival (NCGLFF) takes place in August at Durham's Carolina Theatre.

Posted By Discover Durham Staff on Aug 14, 2018

The festival features short, documentary, and feature films, including both independent and mainstream productions, that celebrate and investigate gay, lesbian, and transgender life. In addition, the festival includes screenings of classic films, a family day, and other events that offer a party-like atmosphere.

The festival dates back to 1995, when the NC Pride Parade approached the Carolina Theatre with the idea of hosting a gay and lesbian film festival in conjunction with Pride's annual parade and festival.

“At the time there might have been a gay and lesbian film festival in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and other major cities, but the idea of a smaller city like Durham holding one was nonexistent,” said Jim Carl, senior director of the Carolina Theatre.

In its first year, the festival attracted a few hundred people, but now, 21 years later, the North Carolina Gay and Lesbian Film Festival attracts 15,000 people. "The lobbies are packed. The screenings are packed,” Carl said. “It's a fun event; it's not stodgy.”


Film Selections and Special Events

NCGLFF gives visitors a chance to see a variety of films that you most likely won't have the chance to see in a theater anywhere else. Screenings range from programs of short films and international films to screwball comedies, dramas, and more. Past Jury Awards winners have included intriguing men's, women's, and trans features. Some are:

BEST MEN'S FEATURE: Evening Shadows

Directed by Sridhar Rangayan

This heartwarming story about LGBT people in India as well as the struggles they face presents themes on religion, family, and culture, and is the closing night selection of the festival.

BEST WOMEN'S FEATURE: Freelancers Anonymous

Directed by Sonia Sebastian

Featuring performances from Amy Shiels (Twin Peaks: The Return), Meagan Cavanagh (A League of Their Own) and trans actress Alexandra Billings (Transparent), this romantic comedy is a commentary on workplace politics as a group of women work to develop an app for freelancers.


Directed by Gabriel Silverman & Fiona Dawson

This captivating story of four transgender troops risking discovery, relationships, and their livelihood brings the fight for the right to defend our liberty into focus. This documentary also took home the Audience Award at this year's SXSW Film Festival.

Free Family Screening | A free screening of Shrek (2001). The film screening starts at 11am in Fletcher Hall at Carolina Theatre, and families are welcome to stop by the main lobby beginning at 10 am for free kids activities.View the NCGLFF website to learn about all the films and read the festival guide.

Where to Stay

When you come to NCGLFF, don't forget that the Carolina Theatre is situated in the heart of Downtown Durham, a walkable district with plenty of new things to see and do. There are five hotels within walking distance of the Carolina Theatre:

  • Durham Marriott City Center Marriott City Center is connected to the Carolina Theatre, offering ease of access to festival activities.
  • 21c Museum Hotel Explore the hotel’s art collection and snag a selfie with the 21c mascot – a hot magenta penguin (.1 miles from the Carolina Theatre).
  • The Durham A mid-century boutique hotel with a celebrated restaurant and rooftop bar (.2 miles from the Carolina Theatre).
  • Aloft Durham Downtown Located near the American Tobacco Campus, Aloft offers a modern aesthetic, heated pool, and proximity to plenty of dining and entertainment options (.4 miles from the Carolina Theatre).
  • Residence Inn Durham McPherson/Duke University Medical Center Area The newly constructed Residence Inn has apartment-style suites, heated pool, and fitness center near the Brightleaf District (.6 miles from the Carolina Theatre).
  • Unscripted Durham An eclectic hotel with a rooftop deck, pool, and unique cocktail and cuisine options. (.1 miles from the Carolina Theatre).

What to Eat

You’ll also find a variety of restaurants and bars in Downtown Durham, ranging from grab-and-go options you can snag between films to celebrated hot spots where you can unwind after a film-filled day. (Check out our comprehensive list of downtown restaurants here.)

  • Mothers & Sons Trattoria Specializing in handmade pasta, antipasti, and traditional Italian dishes. Dinner only (.2 miles from the Carolina Theatre).
  • Beyù Caffè This restaurant, café, and live music venue is the perfect place to grab brunch, lunch, or a latte to unwind between showings. (.2 miles from the Carolina Theatre).
  • M Sushi An upscale sushi restaurant that offers an authentic Omakase dining experience (.2 miles from the Carolina Theatre).
  • Rise Biscuits and Donuts A local favorite for indulgent breakfast and lunch offerings (.2 miles from the Carolina Theatre).
  • Bulldega A neighborhood grocery that offers the essentials alongside grab-and-go meal options (.3 miles from the Carolina Theatre).
  • Littler A dinner-only restaurant serving inventive dishes in an intimate environment (.3 miles from the Carolina Theatre).
  • NanaSteak A modern steakhouse in a chic space with abundant natural light (.4 miles from the Carolina Theatre).

Between the films, the special events, and a great location in downtown, NCGLFF is a great opportunity to experience Durham!

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Discover Durham Staff