DOCUMENTARY TO MAKE SAN FRANCISCO PREMIERE AT
FRAMELINE FILM FESTIVAL SUNDAY, JUNE 30
SAN FRANCISCO (May 7, 2019)—The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus (SFGMC)—under the leadership of Dr. Timothy Seelig, Artistic Director and Christopher Verdugo, Executive Director—announced today that “Gay Chorus Deep South,” the documentary chronicling SFGMC’s life-changing Lavender Pen Tour through five southern states in the fall of 2017, is the recipient of the Audience Award at the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival following its world premiere on Monday, April 29. Hailed as “a powerful study in doing the unexpected” (Vice) and “one of the most moving documentaries to premiere this year” (The Daily Beast), the documentary will make its San Francisco premiere at the Frameline Film Festival on Sunday, June 30.
In this groundbreaking documentary developed and produced by Airbnb, Director and Writer David Charles Rodrigues, Writer Jeff Gilbert, Producers Bud Johnston and Jesse Moss, and Director of Photography Adam Hobbs followed the 300 members of SFGMC—along with special guests from the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir—as they embarked on an unprecedented bus tour through the Deep South, celebrating music, challenging intolerance, and confronting their own dark coming out stories to confront a resurgence of anti-LGBTQ laws.
The group made 23 appearances across Mississippi (Hattiesburg and Jackson), Alabama (Selma, Montgomery, and Birmingham), Tennessee (Knoxville), South Carolina (Greenville) and North Carolina (Greensboro and Charlotte) from October 7–14, 2017. The Lavender Pen Tour helped to share SFGMC's mission of community, activism and compassion throughout the South, supporting its LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters and promoting acceptance and love through music. SFGMC also joined with local non-profits and LGBTQ+ groups to help raise much-needed funds in support of their vital work to dismantle biased and discriminatory laws.
"SFGMC had no idea where our very first, two-year venture into the world of documentary would lead us—we just hoped the final product would be true to our story and our mission,” says Seelig. “The tour in it of itself was a success, but now having ‘Gay Chorus Deep South’ be named ‘the award-winning’ fan-favorite at Tribeca is simply the thrill of a lifetime.”
Adds Verdugo: “It is an immense honor to receive the Tribeca Audience Award and a further testament that the Lavender Pen Tour continues to touch, move, and inspire hearts on the stage and screen.”
“The entire reason we made this film was to bring this message of belonging of the LGBTQ community and all other communities that are considered ‘the other’ to as many people as possible in the world,” says Rodrigues. “The Audience Award at Tribeca is the ultimate celebration of exactly this. We are honored and humbled by this award. Thank you, Tribeca, from the bottom of our hearts.”
Academy Award-winning producer Bruce Cohen (SFGMC’s Unbreakable, Big Fish, Milk, American Beauty, Silver Linings Playbook), says: “Hearts and minds change literally before your very eyes as the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus go on a brave and emotional journey out of their comfort zone in the powerful and inspiring ‘Gay Chorus Deep South.’ Nothing reaches across the divide quite like the stunning sound of this extraordinary group.”
In addition to the Tribeca and Frameline festivals, Gay Chorus Deep South is also featured at the following festivals:
QDoc Portland Queer Documentary Film Festival, Portland, OR (May 2)
Hells Half Mile Film & Music Festival, Bay City, MI (May 3)
Montclair Film Festival, Montclair, NJ (May 5)
Reel Out Charlotte, Charlotte, NC (May 5)
Pink Apple Filmfestival, Zurich, Switzerland (May 7)
NorthwestFest, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada (May 10)
Mendocino Film Festival, Mendocino, CA (June 1)
Up next, members of the Chorus will present the 8th annual Dragathon fundraising event, Dragathon 3000: Queens in Space, on Saturday, May 11, 2019 from 6 p.m.–10 p.m. at Oasis (298 11th St., San Francisco). Proceeds benefit Ryan's Fund: The San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus Financial Assistance Network, which assists members with fundamental expenses including performance attire and tour and travel costs. Finally, SFGMC closes Season 41 with QUEENS, a concert commemorating the past, present, and future of the LGBTQ rights movement in celebration of Pride Month for three performances only June 21–22 at The Sydney Goldstein Theater (formerly Nourse Theater, 275 Hayes Street, San Francisco).
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For more than 40 years, the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus has courageously served as the international standard bearer for a powerful and accomplished mix of performances, human rights and community activism, empowerment and inclusiveness, establishing it as an icon among LGBTQ organizations. Founded in 1978, it was the first organization of its kind and is credited with starting the LGBTQ choral movement, galvanizing and changing the course of LGBTQ history. It continues to rally and inspire other arts-based community organizations around the world.
Under the leadership of Artistic Director Dr. Timothy Seelig, SFGMC has established a heightened level of performance standards bringing renewed audience and choral industry acclaim. Recent touring schedules, recordings, and outreach programs have broadened its impact and reputation in the community while maintaining its signature blend of humor, personality and ground-breaking performances. In 2019, SFGMC acquired a new facility that will act as both its permanent home for rehearsals and offices. The building will also serve as the first-ever National LGBTQ Center for the Arts and a community space for San Francisco LGBTQ artists.