50 YEARS OF FABULOUS: THE IMPERIAL COUNCIL STORY
ABOUT THE PROJECT
The purpose of this film is to raise awareness about the organization and recognize it’s efforts in the 50 years that it has existed. It will depict the great contributions that they have given to the community. Whether they are still relevant today or not, is for their audience to decide, but one thing is for sure, camp and drag will dazzle and enchant the silver screen.
In the 60’s, the Imperial Court started as an LGBT social club.
They are one of the pioneering grass roots organizations that started the fight for acceptance for the LGBT community. When the HIV and AIDS epidemic hit, they took the challenge of becoming a fundraising organization that benefitted countless charity organizations. They have since impacted so many lives and have become a social force that soon expanded to 70 affiliates worldwide. They’ve maintained a long lasting legacy and sustainable existence, until more recently.
Less than 2 years before their 50th anniversary in 2015, founder Jose Saria died. This couldn’t have come at a worse time. The Imperial Court has begun to question its relevance as fundraising and attendance to their events dwindles. They are now facing their greatest challenge yet – how to stay relevant in today’s fast-changing culture and survive in a world dominated by social media and technology.
We examine their narrative through the eyes of a former drag Empress, Chablis, the 36th Empress of their Court, or in his male persona David Lassman, who takes it upon herself to initiate the conversation within the organization and help find resolution. Armed with her writing and film background, she interviews the stakeholders of the organization: the board of directors, the past and reigning Emperors and Empresses, and etc. She stimulates them to reflect upon the organization’s role and positioning amidst current cultural changes. The recent advances in LGBT rights, freedoms and protection, ironically, renders them vulnerable to internal and external conflicts that threaten their function and stance. They are discovering that there is less of a need for people to belong into social clubs such as theirs.
Also, with the strong media attention surrounding shows like Ru Paul’s Drag Race, a new generation of drag queens are finding an entirely new purpose for their craft – earning money. For an organization mainly focused on fundraising for community and social causes, the influence of Drag has shifted, and the newer generation has less of an interest in joining The Imperial Council.
Despite these challenges, the Imperial Council prepares for their 50th Year Anniversary Celebration, complete with a coronation to elect their new Emperor and Empress. In this historic year, Chablis follows the new candidates, challenging them to think creatively about their campaigns, fundraising efforts, as well as new ways to promote the organization.
A new Emperor and Empress will be crowned and the hopes of continuing a strong legacy of charity and giving will depend upon the organization’s next actions.
The film will have a premiere screening in February of next year which will be in conjunction with the annual Celebration of Imperial Court’s founding. The film will also secure a screening at Frameline Film Festival, the biggest LGBT film festival in the world. It will also become an educational material that the organization will utilize for their community outreach programs and will be disseminated through it’s 70 affiliates all around the world among others. We will also explore securing distribution broadcast platforms such as PBS and KQED.