Following a summer travel seminar to San Francisco during Pride Week, UW-Eau Claire students and faculty are set to present the first annual Eau Queer Film Festival Thursday through Sunday in the Davies Theater.
Featuring a mix of 10 feature-length and short films from around the world, the festival centers on issues that continue to face members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
Betty Rae Matthews, a non-traditional student originally from Eau Claire, said the films were all picked at the Frameline Film Festival in San Francisco in June. In addition to picking the films, students were in charge of contacting the film companies and setting up the screenings at the Eau Queer festival.
Matthews said Eau Queer is unique because it will show many of the films before most major cities.
"We could have really brought in any films," Matthews said. "But there were just so many good films in that festival and we had such a good time working with Frameline, we didn't feel the need to go outside of that."
Of all the films she viewed at Frameline, Matthews said a short film called "Just Friends" stood out as a one that had to be shown at Eau Queer.
"It's just a really sweet film that still deals with some of the complexities of trying to be queer in a world that doesn't always like or understand it," Matthews said.
Assistant professor of communication and journalism Ellen Mahaffy and assistant professor of sociology Pam Foreman led the group of students on the trip, which was meant not only to bring back material for a film festival, but also allow students to experience Pride Week.
Mahaffy said the festival was a great experience for students because of the global perspective of the films and the fact that none of the films took a mainstream approach to sexual differences.
"It's a way to form community, be supportive of one another and know there's other people like you," she said.
In addition to watching films, the students were left to their own devices to produce documentaries on various aspects of Pride Week, some of which will be shown at Eau Queer.
Although the festival's films are centered around issues of homosexuality, Matthews said all members of the community are encouraged to come.
"It's totally for everyone," she said. "Of course we want as many people possible from campus to get there, but its definitely open to the community."