The 18th annual Damn These Heels Queer Film Festival kicks off this weekend as the longest running queer film festival in the Mountain West.
From the 9 to the 18 of July, Damn These Heels will show 25 feature films and 25 short films. There’s a variety of ways to enjoy the films this year, with screenings online, outdoors and in-person at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center in Salt Lake City.
Ash Hoyle is the director of programming for Damn These Heels. He said that adapting the festival for the pandemic helped them to increase access to the films.
“It's really exciting to me to be able to reach so many more people and to lower the bar of entry to participating in our festival through our digital offerings,” Hoyle said.
Hoyle said that films are a “powerful engine for empathy."
“The name, Damn These Heels, comes from the idea that, you know, through film and film viewing and filmmaking, it's a way to build empathy and walk in one another's shoes, heels or otherwise,” Hoyle said.
Hoyle said that what the festival tries to do is help people better understand each other and the issues facing the LGBTQ community. He said in Utah especially, there’s a lot of work to be done.
“There's a lot more work to do," Hoyle said. "There's a lot further to move the needle. And I think we see that very poignantly in our home state of Utah, where there's still a lot of legislation and a lot of legal battles that are playing out on the frontlines right now, particularly around transgender issues that, you know, prove what, what empathy still needs to be built, and, you know, our presentation of films is one, I think, really, really human way to do that.”
More information about showing and tickets can be found at damntheseheels.org.