Utah Film Center announces 2023 Damn These Heels Queer Film Festival Program Lineup and Ticket Sales

20th Anniversary Edition, Damn These Heels Queer Film Festival advances LGBTQ+ cinematic stories, unveiling a curated lineup of independent features and shorts; online and in-person tickets are now on sale

Salt Lake City, UT, August 24, 2023 Utah Film Center announced today its collection of over 30 feature and short films chosen for its 20th anniversary Damn These Heels Queer Film Festival, a pioneering event showcasing LGBTQ+ cinema and culture. The 2023 festival will take place October 12th-15th, 2023, in person at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, along with a selection of films available online starting October 15th. Damn These Heels’ curated lineup of films is selected by an LGBTQ+ programming committee that cultivated the most impactful queer films for festival attendees this year. 

As the longest-running LGBTQ+ Film Festival in the Mountain West, Damn These Heels Queer Film Festival is a celebration, sharing queer film and queer love with everyone. “I encourage all film-loving Utahns to join us this year,” said Jade Velazquez, Festival Program Director. “The Festival experience is a cinematic journey that will delight your senses, ignite your imagination, and leave you craving an encore.” 

Committed to making the Festival as inclusive as possible, a “pay what you can” pricing model is available to festival goers — choosing what to pay based on their financial circumstances.

Damn These Heels Queer Film Festival is a space for compelling stories, insightful documentaries, and innovative filmmaking that highlight the rich and varied experiences of the LGBTQ+ community. For 20 years, the festival has grown and become a symbol of progress, acceptance, and celebration – while continuously pushing boundaries and challenging societal norms. Damn These Heels is a metaphor for stepping into someone else’s shoes and allowing one to gain new perspectives.

Film Programming Overview

Damn These Heels’ 20th anniversary edition is kicking off opening night with A Run for More. Feature and short film selections will begin screening Friday afternoon and continue throughout the weekend. Local Utah film picks include: A Spell for Queer Home, Hidden Pride, and Queen Bees. Audiences can look forward to a diverse program of storytelling that traverses cultures, generations, and emotions — offering a panoramic view of the queer experience. 

Tickets on Sale Now: Secure Your Spot

Tickets for the Damn These Heels 20th Anniversary Queer Film Festival are available now for purchase. Film enthusiasts, LGBTQ+ advocates, and cinema aficionados are encouraged to secure their spots early to be part of this milestone celebration. Tickets can be purchased through the official festival website www.DamnTheseHeels.org — where attendees can also find detailed information about screening schedules, special events, and guest appearances.

A Legacy of Celebration and Progress

“Damn These Heels Queer Film Festival has come a long way since its humble beginnings, and we are immensely proud to reach this momentous 20th anniversary,” said Mariah Mellus, Utah Film Center Executive Director. “Our commitment to amplifying LGBTQ+ voices and stories remains unwavering, and this year’s lineup reflects the incredible diversity and joy our community offers. We invite everyone to join us in celebrating two decades of pushing boundaries, fostering inclusion, and making history through the art of cinema.”

More than 33,000 attendees from Utah and across the United States have attended Damn These Heels. In 2023, we expect over 2,000 members of Utah’s LGBTQ community, local leaders, and filmmakers to attend the festival.

Feature Films

1946: The Mistranslation That Shifted Culture, 2022/ USA/ Documentary (Director: Sharon “Rocky” Roggio)

While uncovering the origins of homophobia of the conservative church, a gay seminary scholar and a straight activist make a shocking discovery: An erroneous translation in the Bible that has been weaponized against the LGBTQIA+ community ever since.

Winner: Audience Award – 2022 DOC NYC; Audience Award & Jury Award-2023 Wicked Queer Boston; Roxanne Mueller Audience Choice Award & Dream Maker Award-2023; Cleveland International; Audience Award-2022 Rainbow Visions Edmonton

A Run for More, 2022/ USA/ Documentary (Director: Ray Whitehouse)

Growing up, Frankie Gonzales-Wolfe learned to be a fighter, but never imagined having a chance to make history as the first openly elected transgender official in Texas.

Big Boys, 2023/ USA/ Dramatic (Director: Corey Sherman) 

In this coming of age story, Jamie bonds with his new camp friend Dan over cooking, games, and both being “big boys”. He finds all he wants to do is hang out with Dan and soon comes to terms with who he is and who he desires.

Outstanding First Feature Honorable Mention–2023 Frameline47; Grand Jury Prize For Outstanding Performance North American Narrative Feature, Isaac Krasner & Audience Award For Best Narrative Feature–2023 Outfest 

Fireworks, 2023/ Italy/ Dramatic (Director: Giuseppe Fiorello)

1982, in the heat of a Sicilian summer, two teenage boys, Gianni and Nino, meet and fall in love. The relationship soon becomes a topic of gossip in the small town, and while the two dream of living together, their community is determined to stop it.

Golden Delicious, 2022/ Canada/ Dramatic (Director: Jason Karman)

When basketball-obsessed Aleks moves in across the street, Asian-Canadian teen Jake finds himself trying out for the basketball team to get his attention in this classic coming-of-age drama set in the digital age.

Winner: Outstanding Feature Film, Outstanding Feature Director, Outstanding Feature Winner, Outstanding Feature Action-2022 Reelworld; Audience Choice for Best Feature-2022 Seattle Queer; Best Canadian Feature, People’s Choice Best Overall Performance, People’s Choice Best Feature-2022 Vancouver Asian; Audience Choice Awards Best Comedy-2022 Queer North Jury Award; Best Comedic Film-2022 Queer North

Heels Over Wheels, 2022/ Spain/ Documentary (Director: Pau Canivell)

The coexistence of a family of drag queens and a trans woman who travel by motor-home to Murcia to show their support for a child who was assaulted by another minor at the gates of his school.

Winner: Honorable mention of the Jury-2022 Wicked Queer Boston’s Film Festival

Kokomo City, 2023/ USA/ Documentary (Director: D. Smith) 

In the wildly entertaining and refreshingly unfiltered documentary KOKOMO CITY, filmmaker D. Smith passes the mic to four Black transgender sex workers in Atlanta and New York City.

Winner: Sundance Film Festival NEXT Innovator Award and the NEXT Audience Award-2023 Sundance Film Festival; Audience Award-2023 Berlinale

Lie with Me, 2023/ France/ Dramatic (Director: Olivier Peyon)

Novelist Stéphane Belcourt returns to the city of his youth, where he meets Lucas, the son of his first love. Memories flood in: irrepressible desire, bodies coming together, a passion that must be silenced?

Winner: Audience Award Winner, Best Narrative Feature-2023 Miami OutShine

Mutt, 2022/ USA/ Dramatic (Director: Vuk Lungulov-Klotz)

Feña, a young trans guy bustling through life in New York City, is afflicted with an incessantly challenging day that resurrects ghosts from his past.

Queendom, 2022/ France & Russia/ Documentary (Director: Agnilia Galdanova)

Gena, a queer artist from a small town in Russia, stages radical performances in public that become a new form of art and activism, and put her life in danger.

The Mattachine Family, 2023/ USA/ Dramatic (Director: Andy Vallentine)

Thomas and Oscar are a couple very much in love, but after their first foster child returns to his birth mother, they find they have different ideas about what it means to make a family.

Wonderfully Made, 2022/ USA/ Documentary (Director: Yuval David)

As religious discrimination against LGBTQ+ people intensifies in the US and abroad, a team of creatives upends 1700 years of religious iconography by producing photo art depicting Jesus as a member of the LGBTQ+ community.

Winner: Best Film – 2022 LGBTQ Toronto Film Festival

Short Films

Aikane, 2023/ USA (Director: Daniel Sousa, Dean Hamer, & Joe Wilson)

A wounded island warrior falls into a mysterious underwater world and is rescued by a valiant young man.

Apayauq, 2023/ USA (Director: Zepplin Zeerip)

Apayauq Reitan’s journey of gender, mental health, and purpose on her way to become the first out transgender woman to complete the legendary Iditarod sled dog race.

Winner: Audience Award, Best Documentary Short-2023 Inside Out Film and Video Festival

A Spell For Queer Home, 2023/ USA (Director: Amanda Madden)

Braiding together embodied exploration, spell songs, stories and wisdom from queer and trans folks across the country, the film asks- what does it mean to be at home as a queer person?

Dilating for Maximum Results, 2023/ USA (Director & Screenwriter: Nyala Moon)

A whack, irreverent comedy about a black trans woman who tries to dilate, after four years of not dilating, to hook up IRL with her online boyfriend.

Winner: Grand Jury Best Short Film-2023 San Francisco Transgender Film Festival; Grand Jury Best US Short Film-2023 Outfest Los Angeles LGBTQ+ Film Festival

Greetings From Washington, 1981/ USA (Director: Rob Epstein, Frances Reid, Greta Schiller, and Lucy Winer) 

A kaleidoscope of music, dance, stories and laughter shared at the first gay and lesbian rights march on Washington.

Happy BirthGay, 2022/ Israel (Director: Niv Manzur)

A mom throws her son a grandiose surprise BirthGay party, celebrating a year of his coming out of the closet.

Winner: Best Short Film Award TlvFest-2022 Tel Aviv International LGBT Film Festival

Hidden Pride – Life at BYU as a Queer Student, 2022/ USA (Director: Fletcher Gibbons)

Five queer past and present BYU students tell of their struggle to live truthfully to themselves and their identities while trying to avoid academic and social backlash from the conservative Mormon University.

Holy Madonna, 2022/ Ecuador (Director: Esteban Vera, Screenwriter: Esteban Vera & Salvador Yugcha)

Martina, a young novice, helps priest Francisco with funeral masses but must confront her own fears and past in the LGBTQ+ community after the death of drag queen Aphrodite, leading her to embrace love and authenticity.

Insta Gay, 2023/ Canada (Director: Simon Paluck) 

A gay millennial reels after breaking-up with a popular influencer. 

Queen Bees, 2022/ USA (Director: Riley Nickel)

A vibrant documentary following local drag in the scene of Utah. Join a group of local SLC queens through their ups and downs, local pressures from a conservative environment, and celebrate the art of drag.

Mama Doesn’t Want to Go to the Beach, 2023/ Spain (Director: Ana Belén Barragán Castañeda)

A transgender mother resumes her hormone treatment while her daughter begins puberty. Their bodies’ changes make going to the beach a new chore.

Pop-Off, 2023/ USA (Director: Rance Collins)

A nervous young gay man has an eye-popping first experience hosting a hookup.

Shafted, 2023/ USA (Director: Del Shores & Emerson Collins)

This standard romantic comedy about finding love in an elevator falls apart when the filmmaker is forced to step out of the fantasy and decide whether he believes in the story he’s telling.

Shifting Bodies to Fluid Fiction, 2023/ Austria (Director: Daniela Gutmann)

A fluid examination of physical closeness– matching itself in repetitions, reflections, as well as irregularities.

Stone, 2023/ UK (Director: Jake & Hannah Graf)

A young woman’s discovery that her father was a transgender woman makes her rethink her childhood.

We All Die Alone, 2022/ USA (Director Jonathan Hammond)

The hubris of an inept conflict negotiator leads two warring gangs into an 8-way standoff. The consequences are both comical and tragic in this whip-smart short.

Y, 2023/ Croatia/ Animation (Director: Matea Kovač)

An empty paper depicts a struggle between artistic composition and decomposition. A woman reminisces on her tumultuous relationship with a former girlfriend.


About Damn These Heels Queer Film Festival

Damn These Heels Queer Film Festival began in 2003 with a handful of screenings during Pride week and at 20 years, is dedicated to showcasing the best of LGBTQ+ local and global cinema. As the longest-running queer film festival in the Mountain West, the festival offers over 30 independent films that support local queer organizations and supporters, and engaging film discussions fostering dialogue with community change-makers and film storytellers. For more information, please visit www.DamnTheseHeels.org. Connect on Facebook and Instagram.

About Utah Film Center

Utah Film Center connects people, stories, and ideas through film, artist support, and media arts education. By amplifying diverse perspectives in Utah through the medium of film, they help set the scene for a richer understanding of our neighbors, fellow human beings, and the world around us. With festivals like Damn These Heels and other year-round screening programs, Utah Film Center provides access to voices and stories that would otherwise be inaccessible for Utah audiences. Utah Film Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and visit more utahfilmcenter.org for more information.

Press Contact:

Alicia Kim

Public Relations Coordinator


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