John Scagliotti heads to Knoxville’s GLBT film festival

His friendly voice and easy-going manner belie the depth of experience that John Scagliotti brings to his work.

The Emmy-award winning journalist, director of “Before Stonewall” and “After Stonewall” along with PBS’ renowned “In the Life” series, will grace the Knoxville community with his presence in early June.

ReelKnox, a first-ever GLBT film festival that will kick off the Pride celebration for 2006, brings him to Knoxville. The project is a cooperative effort between a local GLBT group formed after last year’s GLBT Liberation Forum as part of Pride 2005 and the Knoxville Museum of Arts.

Beginning on June 2, and running through the entire weekend, the highlight of the film festival will be Scagliotti’s latest documentary entitled “Dangerous Living: Coming Out in the Developing World.”

This feature-length film focuses on the challenges faced by GLBT people across the globe. The moving stories told by these brave people illustrate the oppressive conditions faced by our people in developing nations such as Egypt, Brazil, Honduras, Vietnam, the Philippines, Uganda, Pakistan, and several others.

The first-person accounts of oppressive conditions in countries where homosexuality in all forms is outlawed, with punishments ranging from prison sentences to lashings to the death penalty, makes for an agonizing look at the way in which GLBT people confront oppression in places where there is little or no support.

“The fulcrum on which this project turned was the situation in Egypt with the Cairo 52,” Scagliotti reflects. “The whole idea came from a need to consider the lives of GLBT people and liberation in the developing world.”

The Cairo 52 were arrested on May 11, 2001, on a floating gay nightclub call the “Queen Boat,” moored on the Nile near Cairo. They were charged with "habitual debauchery" and "obscene behaviour." All 52 men were incarcerated in two cells with two beds each from May through November when their trials concluded. They were subjected to beatings and repeated forensic examinations.

Scagliotti’s career as a journalist and filmmaker spans more than three decades. Starting at age 20 when he began his career in radio, he quickly moved toward addressing GLBT issues and has had a stellar career doing just that. His outstanding PBS series, “In the Life,” broke ground on as the first national series about gays and lesbians. Beginning in 1991, local stations subscribing to the series grew from an initial six stations to more than 100, as it addressed issues of concern to the GLBT community via the public airwaves. Television and film star, Rosie O’Donnell, will host an upcoming segment.

His credits include two outstanding films chronicling the history of the GLBT movement in the United States. “Before Stonewall” examines the climate, conditions, and players in the days before the famous 1969 Stonewall Rebellion. “After Stonewall” tells our story from Gay Liberation and the women’s music movement to the Gay Games and Ellen. The ninety-minute documentary first aired on PBS in 1999.

“The Knoxville community is honored to host Mr. Scagliotti as we kick off the local Pride 2006 celebration with a sample of his truly astounding work,” notes Suzanne Pharr, former director of the historic Highlander Center and founding member of Southerners on New Ground, a group of black and white southern lesbians whose stated goal is to promote social change across the South.

“I had the privilege of spending a week with John and a group of young political journalists,” Pharr said. “We gathered at the Kopkind Colony, his farmhouse in Vermont that hosts people committed to social change. I developed a great appreciation for John’s political thinking as well as his films and his warm hospitality. The Knoxville community is in for a real treat when we welcome John to our film festival.”

Check the ReelKnox Web site at for details of the upcoming film festival. Check the Web site for our calendars of events including a special Pride calendar suitable for printing.
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