Wolfe Releasing celebrates its 30th Anniversary this summer

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Wolfe Releasing and Wolfe Video have been a lifeline for thousands of LGBT customers, providing an opportunity to enjoy films featuring queer characters that don’t exactly make a pit stop at your local cinema. Unless you live in a major city like New York or LA, the chances that you caught the excellent Iranian film Circumstance, the Swedish hit Kyss Mig, or even the classic ’90s favorite But I’m a Cheerleaderin theatres is pretty slim.

Many of the films Wolfe carry and distribute find their life at film festivals and afterwards on video, but not necessarily in wide distribution. This month, Wolfe celebrates it’s 30th anniversary, so we wanted to recognize the company that has brought queer film lovers so much joy for the last three decades. Founder and CEO Kathy Wolfe was honored at this year’s Outfest for the milestone.

Kathy WolfeKathyWolfe-WolfeVideo

Back in 1985, Kathy had built a successful graphic design company. But after nearly 20 years in that industry, she was looking elsewhere for inspiration.

“I happened to go see The Word is Out, and there’s a phrase in the movie that sort of challenges the viewer to go out and make a difference of your own,” Kathy said. “And I thought, ‘That’s it—that’s what I want to do.’ So I sold my interest in the [graphic design] business and I started in the basement of my home with one employee, and we started with a very small production company as well as mail order.”

Wolfe Releasing sure has come a long way since then. If you ever picked up a lesbian film from your local Blockbuster or video store, it’s likely because Wolfe helped get it there. Before 1992, you’d be hard pressed to find any queer content on the shelves, making finding representations of ourselves in media incredibly difficult. Wolfe opened up those channels, allowing many of us to connect with stories and characters we never knew existed. Times have certainly changed for queer female characters, and this year is set to be a huge one with big studio films Carol and Freeheld coming out, as well as powerful indies like Addicted to Fresno and Bare on the horizon. Kathy is quite pleased about these developments.

“I could not be prouder. I think Wolfe over its 30 year course has had some tiny impact on making that happen,” Kathy said. “Certainly when we performed well selling DVDs, like we did within the early days with Desert Hearts, and on to the many films that have come out since, it’s raised eyebrows in Hollywood to the point where they realized there’s a market there.”

Patricia Velasquez (L) and Eloisa Maturen (R) in ‘Liz In September’LIS

As media changed, so did Wolfe as they traded out video cassettes for DVDs, and began offering digital downloads and rentals. In addition to stocking all the classics and popular films, Wolfe is always on the lookout for what’s next. Brand new films still playing the festival circuit like All About E and Liz in September are already on their roster, and customers can be notified via email as soon as they become available to ship. Another new film that Kathy is excited about is The Girl King, which is the story of Queen Christina of Sweden. Raised like a prince by her father, Queen Christina ruled over Sweden in the mid-1600’s, was unabashedly queer and had a longtime female lover. The film takes a look at her years on the throne as well as her person life. Wolfe has acquired the international rights to the film, and we will be sure to keep you updated on its US release.

Malin Buska and Sarah Gadon in THE GIRL KINGdownloadPhoto by Veera Aaltonen

We asked Kathy which films over the years have a special place in her heart. “It’s really hard to chose amongst my babies,” she said, “but I would say one favorite from several years ago was Big Eden. It’s not a lesbian film necessarily, but it really was very beloved. It was a big break for us. But starting from the early years, I think our biggest break came from Lily Tomlin. Having her give us The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe and the rest of her collection to distribute on her behalf. That really took us into mainstream and paved the way for us to become a true releasing distributor.”

lily

You can find hundreds of films on WolfeVideo.com as well as digital rentals from WolfeonDemand.com. Keep up to date with new films playing festivals and theatres near you on WolfeReleasing.com