The 11th annual event offers 11 movies with LGBTQ focus

COURTESY PHOTO - A highlight at QDoc, 'Jewel's Catch One' tells the story of entrepreneur Jewel Thais-Williams, a key figure in the Los Angeles LGBTQ community.If you're looking to enrich your knowledge of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) topics, be sure not to miss the upcoming Portland Queer Documentary Film Festival, better known as QDoc.

Calling itself the only documentary film festival in the United States devoted solely to the LGBTQ topic, it's in its 11th year and will show 11 movies from May 18-21 at the Hollywood Theatre, 4122 N.E. Sandy Blvd.

"I think the best way to care about something is to be given the opportunity to learn about it," says Molly King, festival co-director.

Its opening title, "The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin," on May 18 already is sold out. It was the winner of the South by Southwest's Documentary Spotlight award.

It takes a look at the evolution of San Francisco's gay culture, with a specific look at a former staunchly conservative senator, Jesse Helms, who evolved into a "gay rights pioneer."

For those who didn't snag a ticket to that one, don't fret — perhaps catch "Jewel's Catch One" instead.

Showing at 6:30 p.m. Friday, May 19, it focuses on Jewel Thais-Williams, an entrepreneur who opened a nightclub in Los Angeles in 1973, just as disco culture was on the rise.

The club was called Jewel's Catch One, which ultimately became one of the city's hot spots.

But more than that, Thais-Williams created the Village Health Collective, a natural health clinic across the street for the nightclub, and hosted a 12-step program and meetings for the LGBTQ community.

Both Thais-Williams and the director of the documentary, C. Fitz, will attend the show.

There's plenty of variety among the other films, including titles like "Chavela," which focuses on Mexican singer Chavela Vargas (described as a Mexican lesbian diva, or "The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson," which investigates the death of Johnson, a black transgender activist.

Or, "Conversations with Elders," a project by QDoc co-founder David Weissman. It's the second installment in his series that aims to capture the experiences of gay men of the "pre-Stonewall generation" in collaboration with younger-generation of gay men as editors. It takes place at noon Sunday, May 21.

Festival organizers hope that the festival might provide an opportunity for people to expand their usual viewing catalog.

"If festival-goers can walk away with a mind more opened and a heart more full, we have succeeded," King says.

To view the full lineup, visit

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