Interview with Festival Director Kanithea Powell (Queer Hippo International LGBT Film Festival)

Queer Hippo is a celebration of queer cinema that brings together authentic stories and audacious audiences for its annual program of original documentaries, dramatic films, original teleplays, music videos and shorts. With filmmaker forums and panels, live music performances, distributors, engaging community and student programs, Queer Hippo brings together today’s most original storytellers to a place where they can collaborate and connect.

 Matthew Toffolo: What is your Film Festival succeeding at doing for filmmakers?

Kanithea Powell: Queer Hippo provides an amazing platform for queer independent filmmakers. We have had films premier at our festival and go on to win major festivals as a result of winning in Queer Hippo. That says a lot about our ability to choose quality films that tell compelling stories.

MT: What would you expect to experience if you attend the
festival this year (2017)?

KP: Another great year of queer films. Last year Queer Hippo represented over 19 different countries. That’s huge. Expect 2017 to give you nothing less than diverse authentic stories, amazing shorts, moving features and documentaries.

MT: What are the qualifications for the selected films?

KP: The subject matter must be queer.

MT: Do you think that some films really don’t get a fair shake from film festivals? And if so, why?

KP: There are so many great films out there looking for a platform.

If you are a small indie film with a great story, you may not get the attention you deserve when you are up against a larger film with major cast. You can get lost in the shuffle, and that’s unfortunate.

MT: What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

KP: We love cinema. Being able to provide a safe space for our audience to come and enjoy our selection of films means everything. We are in an environment where it is important to tell those stories and continue to show people we are more alike than we are different.

MT: How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

KP: FilmFreeway has made this process simple and affordable. The platform works flawlessly for the festival programmer and the filmmaker. The site was easy to navigate and gave me exactly what I needed. This allowed us to get about the business of finding great films for our audience.

MT: Where do you see the festival by 2020?

KP: Queer Hippo will be the best place to experience queer cinema.

We will be leaders in providing educational and distribution opportunities for filmmakers.

MT: What film have you seen the most times in your life?

KP: Shine & The Color Purple

MT: In one sentence, what makes a great film?

KP: Storytelling is the beginning and end to a great film.

MT: How is the film scene in your city?

KP: Houston has a small, intimate film scene. Austin gets a lot of the work but I think that will change over the next few years.



Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 2 times a month. Go to for more information and to submit your work to the festival.