Flaming Classics, a “curated film series that pairs classic films from the queer canon” and local drag artist performances, was announced as a winner of the Knight Arts Challenge on Dec. 4. 

The Knight Arts Challenge gives funds to the best ideas for engaging and enriching communities through the arts. This year, the Knight Foundation offered the competition to four cities: Akron, Ohio; Miami; Detroit, and St. Paul, Minn. The Knight Foundation gave away a total of $7.8 million across the four cities. To qualify for the funds, the idea had to be about the arts, the project had to benefit one of the four aforementioned communities, and winners must find other funding to match the Knight Foundation grant.

Flaming Classics was created by Trae DeLellis, a Ph.D. student at the University of Miami School of Communication and manager of the Bill Cosford Cinema, and Juan Barquin, a film critic and co-editor of the site  Dim the House Lights.

“We are ecstatic to be recognized by the Knight Foundation,” DeLellis said. “Over the last 10 years, the Knight Arts Challenge has palpably changed the cultural landscape of the city and it’s an immense honor to now be a part of that narrative.”

Performances for Flaming Classics take place at the Bill Cosford Cinema. Each event includes an introduction from a local film personality, a screening, and a performance by local drag artists like Miss Toto, Persephone Von Lips, and Queef Latina.

“It’s really exciting to see an organization as prestigious as the Knight Foundation to identify drag as a legitimate art form worth investing in,” DeLellis said.

The series hopes to create an inimitable experience for the South Florida community by “re-contextualizing the cinematic experience and relocating the space of queer performance art.”

Screenings have ranged from classic musicals like Gentlemen Prefer Blondes to childhood favorites like The Little Mermaid, where there was a special screening in the pool at UMThe series also hosted filmmaker Darren Stein for a special 35mm screening of his high school dark comedy Jawbreaker starring Rose McGowan and Judy Greer last month.

With the support of the Knight Arts Challenge fund, DeLellis and Barquin hope to expand the series in terms of content by showing foreign, documentary, avant garde, and classical films. They would also like to extend the program beyond the University of Miami campus by having screenings across South Florida.

“Their support is an honor and is fuel for us to continue and expand the program,” DeLellis said. “With the Knight Foundation, our dedicated performers and our enthusiastic audience, Juan [Barquin] and I are thrilled to be working on next year’s programming.”

For more information on the film series, go to www.flamingclassics.com

Photos by Karli Evans (student) of drag artist Queef Latina performing after a 35mm screening of John Waters’ “Serial Mom.”