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Out with the Old, OutSouth with the New: Your Guide to the NCGLFF

Before a name change, the last year of North Carolina Gay and Lesbian Film Festival (NCGLFF) celebrates a quarter-century of the LGBTQ+ community.

Posted By Discover Durham Staff

Next year will bring an exciting new change to the North Carolina Gay + Lesbian Film Festival with a thoughtful renaming: the OutSouth Queer Film Festival. This transformation is a tribute to a quarter-century of embracing and celebrating the LGBTQIA community.

The festival features short, documentary, and feature films, including both independent and mainstream productions, that celebrate 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.

After 24 years of proudly presenting world class LGBTQIA cinema, the tradition continues.

This incredible festival dates back to 1995 when it debuted as the Q Film Fest. That was the same year that 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, 24 years later, the North Carolina Gay and Lesbian Film Festival attracts over 15,000 people. "The lobbies are packed. The screenings are packed,” Carl said.


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. To celebrate the final year of NCGLFF, this year will feature a special free screening of "Paris Is Burning" in Fletcher Hall on Thursday, August 1 at 8 p.m.

Look forward to the following new developments this year:

  • Durham-based lesbian activist Mandy Carter will introduce a screening of "Before Stonewall" on August 17, and hold a post-film discussion.

  • NCGLFF no longer categorizes films or shorts programs into Men's, Women's or Trans. Each film program now has themes under the synopses which provide readers a wider array of identification choices.

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:

  • 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 Hotel 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).

  • 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.)

  • Mothers & Sons Trattoria Specializing in handmade pasta, antipasti, and traditional Italian dishes. Dinner only (.2 miles from the Carolina Theatre).

  • Beyù Caffè This restaurant and café 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).

  • 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