The beautiful chronicles of ‘Cured’ fight for dignity


Beautiful animation and rich historical detail make a short film about gay commercial artist JC Leyendecker as compelling as many of the more than 900 selections shown this year at the DC Shorts International Film Festival, which runs September 9-19 in person. at the Edlavitch Jewish Community Center (1529 16th St., NW) and online.

Director Ryan White’s short film “Coded” is one of many LGBTQ, “local” and international submissions to the District Short Film Festival, which is entering its 18th year as a hybrid event due to the pandemic in Classes. “Coded” is a biopic about JC Leyendecker, a gay commercial artist from the 1920s-30s who coded gay themes into his advertising drawings.

Safety protocols for the festival, which was completely virtual last year, include an online viewing option for those uncomfortable or unable to attend events, and requiring in-person attendees to wear a mask. and to present their vaccination card to enter the place.

“When they buy the ticket online, before they can proceed with the purchase, they have to click on the fact that they recognize the rules,” said Raedorah Stewart, DC Shorts Site Manager and Volunteers.

She added that on the site “your vaccination card must match your ticket and you must wear a mask”. Additional masks will also be available at the door.

In July, concerns about the highly transmissible Delta variant of the coronavirus led the CDC and Mayor Muriel Bowser to recommend even fully vaccinated people wear masks indoors.

Although 57% of district residents are fully immunized, according to the DC Coronavirus website, as a precaution, DC’s shorts will screen 95 shorts online and host five in-person screenings at the Jewish Community Center and two. at the Goethe-Institut (1377 R St., NW).

Stewart told The Blade the festival also had fewer volunteers this year in order to maintain good social distancing at the venues. But despite the extra precautions, enthusiasm remained high.

“This year’s volunteers are thrilled and relieved to come back to something familiar to them,” said Stewart, who identifies as a queer black woman. “Having this global experience shared throughout history has become a key to making our festival unique and standing out. And we do it with such strict protocols… it advances the whole atmosphere of the festival.

She said the goal for her and her volunteers was to make this experience as enjoyable as possible for the guests.

When asked which of the hundreds of shorts was his favorite, Stewart laughed and “pleaded the fifth.”

“It’s like asking a mother who her favorite child is,” she said, saying each one is special and unique.

Joe Bilancio, director of programming for DC Shorts, told The Blade that the festival normally receives between 1,500 and 2,000 entries for works that must have been completed the previous year to be eligible.

As the number of submissions was down this year, he said his team were surprised at the number of submissions despite unprecedented constraints.

“We were shocked that there was so much content,” Bilancio said. “For example, this meant that if someone used to work with an editor in a collaborative suite, they now had to do it through Zoom.”

And he said the quality of all the movies was impressive given the pandemic constraints.

“I liked Ryan White’s ‘Coded’,” said Bilancio, a gay man who also struggled to find a “favorite” among the large selection. “He made a movie about hidden messages in coded products for the LGBTQ community.”

Bilancio identified with the film’s idea that different people have different perceptions of the same experience, one of the main reasons he enjoys programming the DC Shorts Film Festival.

Christian Oh, the chairman of the festival’s board of directors, identifies as heterosexual, but the film “God’s Daughter Dances” particularly resonated with him as an American of Korean descent.

“Even though it focuses on the LGBTQ community from a light perspective, there is the military,” Oh said of director Sungbin Byun’s comedy-drama about a transgender dancer who is called by the South Korean army.

“It makes you wonder what other people face in their homelands that we don’t know. “

Oh is also working with the DC Asian American Film Festival and Stewart is helping with the LGBTQ Reel Affirmation series.

“These stories are important,” said Oh, filmmaker and instructor. “And must be told from the perspective of the people who are facing these issues.”

“And they’re fun,” said Stewart, who enjoys being part of an arts community.

In-person screenings include “Animation Domination,” “Cinema 10% LGBTQ,” and “Homegrown Showcase,” which is a special selection of films made by local DC filmmakers.

The local filmmaker’s showcase will be screened at the Goethe-Institute on the festival’s opening night at 6 p.m. and will feature “Miss Alma Thomas: A Life in Color” about the first black woman to have her paintings exhibited at the White House in 2009, “Ourselves, in Stories” on the independent comic book community’s inclusion efforts, and “Out to Vote” on activist Bobby Perkins and the fight to restore the voting rights of those formerly incarcerated in Baltimore .

The festival also includes four free filmmaker workshops, which Oh says are essential for networking and increasing representation.

“This short format offers more fairness and access to minority storytellers,” he said. “Two filmmakers meet and produce a film for the next festival.

And that connection, he said, is important, especially now with the limitations associated with the pandemic, which can also cause economic damage, further limiting the reach of new and unique voices.

“Many are dying because they don’t have the ticket economy,” Oh said. “Support creative people, especially locally. They are in a lot of pain. If you can support them virtually or in person, do so. We open our doors to all communities – Asian, LGBTQ, black, Latino, everyone. “

General admission for in-person displays is $ 15, while individual online access is $ 12. An all-access festival pass, which includes all live and online showcases, costs $ 140. For more information visit

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