OUT ON FILM
HIGH-QUALITY FESTIVAL BRINGS TO ATLANTA LGBT MOVIES
LGBT FILMS FEST BOASTS AWEEK OF FEATURES SHORTS, DOCUMENTARIES AND MORE SPECIAL EDITION STARTS ON
This year’s selection at Out on Film is outstanding. I was repeatedly blown away by the quality of many of the films I previewed. I’ve been covering LGBT festivals for a long time, and I can remember when a situation like this year’s—“Love Is Strange” opened before the festival, “The Imitation Game” wasn’t available in time and Out on Film screened “To Be Takei” and “The Dog” prior to the festival—would have left nothing but a few awful rom-coms and a documentary about the LGBT movement in some country or region that is years or decades behind the U.S.
Instead you’ve got at least three films that will be back at the Landmark for a regular run before Thanksgiving and several more that deserve theatrical runs but aren’t perceived as being commercially viable.
In other words, you can see “Guardians of the Galaxy” again if that’s your thing, or you can see films made by people who didn’t have a budget for space- ships, car chases and explosions; so they wrote about people, many of them people like you and/or me, and had actors enact their stories. What a concept!
About a third of the features, slightly more than last year, are from other countries. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re in foreign languages, just as films from the UK can have some Chinese dialogue (“Lilting”) and those from Canada can have a little French (“Tru Love,” “Gerontophilia”). Also represented are Brazil (“The Way He Looks”), Israel (“Snails in the Rain”), Finland (“Open Up to Me”), Spain (“My Straight Son”), France (“Eastern Boys”), Germany (“Rosie”), Switzerland (“The Circle”) and the Netherlands (“Boys”).
Many of the lunchtime shorts programs are free as is a Sunday family film, the 1974 TV version of Marlo Thomas’ “Free to Be... You and Me.” Shorts are usually excellent because the festival has more of them to choose from than features. They often introduce up-and-coming talent and of course they appeal to short attention spans.
Besides watching movies, there’s networking and socializing, as well as eating and drinking, at the Out on Film 27 Lounge, next door to the theater at Apres Diem. Directors, actors and others associated with the films will be holding Q&As almost every night and will probably visit the lounge afterward. VIP passholders get special privileges there.
Above: ‘Boy Meets Girl’; Right: ‘Alex Mapa: Baby Daddy’; Below left: ‘Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine’ (Publicity photos)
Here, in the order of their festival showing, are mini-reviews of the films I previewed.
BLACKBIRD (Oct. 2, 7:15 p.m.) Choirboy Julian Walker resists coming out in high school in Patrik-Ian Polk’s drama that combines the elements of a lurid melodrama into a satisfying entertainment. Mo’nique and Isaiah Washington add marquee value as Walker’s parents.
EASTERN BOYS (Oct. 2, 9:20 p.m.) A train station pickup leads to a home invasion by a gang of illegal immigrants, which may lead to romance between the middle-aged French victim and the young man used as bait. The drama is always watchable and the first half-hour is technically brilliant. BORN TO FLY: ELIZABTH STREB vs. GRAVITY (Oct. 3, 3:45 p.m.) Lesbian choreographer and rugged individualist Elizabeth Streb gets the documentary treatment from Catherine Gund. Streb’s risky acrobatic style isn’t my idea of dance but it’s visually exciting and she’s quite a character.
BOY MEETS GIRL (Oct. 3, 5:20 p.m.) Boy meets girl in the body of Michelle Hendley, who’s fabulous in this delightful surprise about a transgender teen in a small Kentucky town. The tone is mostly light without trivializing the situations as the film progresses from Transgender 101 into a postgraduate course.
TRU LOVE (Oct. 3, 7:10 p.m.) It’s an interesting twist when a 30-something daughter has to cope with her mother (Kate Trot-
ter, memorable) coming out as a lesbian, and while the drama is overwrought and overacted, it made me care about the characters.
THE 10 YEAR PLAN (Oct. 3, 9:05 p.m.) Romantic Jack Turner and slutty Michael Adam Hamilton are best friends who agree at 25 to settle for each other if they haven’t found life mates in ten years. It’s passable entertainment for undemanding gay viewers but not especially well done.
THE FOXY MERKINS (Oct. 4, 11 a.m.) New York newbie Lisa Haas learns the art of being a homeless hooker from Jackie Monahan in Madeleine Olnek’s mildly disappointing second feature that still has dry wit, deadpan style and surreal situations to keep the movie off-the-wall and the viewer off-guard.
DRUNKTOWN’S FINEST (Oct. 4, 11:05 a.m.) Native Americans are so underserved in film that three of them—one, Carmen Moore, who is transgender—have to represent the entire Navajo nation in Sydney Freeland’s drama that gets better the more you think about it—and you can’t not think about it once you’ve seen it.
ALEC MAPA: BABY DADDY (Oct. 4, 7 p.m.) Unless you have the parenting gene, you’ll prefer the general material of the first half of Mapa’s one-man stand-up show to the second half, focused on the 5-year-old he and his husband adopted. It’s all good enough that I liked Mapa more at the end than I did going in.
TIGER ORANGE (Oct. 4, 9 p.m.) Repressed Chet (Mark Strano) and extroverted Todd (Frankie Valenti, a.k.a. Johnny Hazzard) are gay brothers who reunite in their small hometown after their father’s death, in an engagingly sincere first feature by Wade Gasque.
LIMITED PARTNERSHIP (Oct. 5, 11 a.m.) A storybook romance with two handsome princes, this documentary covers the 41-year love story of Tony Sullivan and Richard Adams, the first gay married couple to challenge America’s immigration laws, after the INS, in 1975, said “two faggots” couldn’t be married.
ROSIE (Oct. 5, 11:05 a.m.) A gay novelist is stuck caring for his sick, alcoholic mother and takes sexual advantage of a smitten young fan in a well-made, naturalistic Swiss drama about some unhappy, unpleasant people. I admired it without enjoying it.
OUT IN THE NIGHT (Oct. 5, 12:35 p.m.) Four African-American lesbians were imprisoned, probably unjustly, in 2006, for assaulting a man who was sexually aggressive. Blair Dorosh-Walther lets us know them as people and prisoners, rather than the subjects of media exploitation, in this effective documentary.
THE CIRCLE (Oct. 5, 3 p.m.) Ping-ponging between present-day interviews and reenactments of the past, Stefan Haupt tells the history of Switzerland’s first gay organization and the 50-years-plus love story of two men who met at one of their annual balls.
MATT SHEPARD IS A FRIEND OF MINE (Oct. 5, 5 p.m.) Reviewing what you know and adding some information you probably don’t, the story of Matthew Shepard’s (1976-1998) brief life is told by friends and family members. There’s arguably TMI, but I wouldn’t blame you if you cried for the entire 89 minutes.
THE WAY HE LOOKS (Oct. 5, 7:15 p.m.) Daniel Ribeiro must be Brazil’s John Hughes, the way he tells the tale of a blind teenager with overprotective parents who competes with his platonic gal pal for the new boy in school. It’s compassionate (and sexy) without becoming a pity party.
GERONTOPHILIA (Oct. 5, 9:10 p.m.) Bruce LaBruce eroticizes wrinkled flab the way other gay directors do taut muscles in this romance between a teenage boy and an octogenarian nursing home resident. It needed a bigger budget to flesh out the story, but what there is is fine.
CRAZY BITCHES (Oct. 6, 7 p.m.) A disappointing sophomore effort for Jane Clark after last year’s “Meth Head,” this slasher movie has its moments but doesn’t quite work as horror or camp. Transgender actress Candis Cayne has a great opening scene but it’s downhill from there. Cathy DeBuono plays the token lesbian among the potential victims.
L LILTING (Oct. 6, 7:30 p.m.) Despite minor flaws that would only bother a critic, “Lilting” is an incredibly moving drama about a Chinese woman (Pei-pei Cheng) adrift in London who doesn’t know her son is gay until he dies and she becomes dependent on his “friend” (Ben Whishaw), who she never liked. QUEENS & COWBOYS: A STRAIGHT YEAR ON THE GAY RODEO (Oct. 7, 7:25 p.m.) Matt Livadary’s documentary about the gay rodeo circuit offers wonderful portraits of some LGBT participants but totally avoids any controversy about how rodeo animals are (mis) treated, which is disingenuous if not dishonest.
A APPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR (Oct. 7, 7:30 p.m.) With her NYU graduate thesis film, writerdirector-star Desiree Akhavan shows she’s r ready for prime time. She plays a semi-closete ed, bisexual Iranian-American who has romantic adventures and misadventures in Brooklyn while trying to win back her former girlfriend.
THE LAST ONE (Oct. 8, 7:30 p.m.) The story of the Names Project Quilt, before and after it moved to Atlanta in 2002, is documented in somewhat unfocused fashion, but the film makes its point that the fight against HIV/AIDS is far from over.
CLUB KING (Oct. 8, 8 p.m.) This breakneck-paced documentary portrait of club promoter Mario Diaz indulges his narcissism shamelessly while showing how his parties brought sexy back to AIDS-ravaged New York in the ‘90s and Los Angeles since 2001. I didn’t love it but I think Jon Bush has made exactly the movie he wanted to make.
BFFs (Oct. 9, 7:05 p.m.) Best friends fake a lesbian relationship to attend a couples retreat in an uncinematic dramedy that should have been a stage play. There’s considerable substance in the script Tara Karsian and Andrea Grano wrote to showcase their acting talent, but it’s in the wrong medium.
EAT WITH ME (Oct. 9, 8:40 p.m.) Mom (Sharon Omi) goes to stay with her gay son (Teddy Chen Culver), who’s running an unsuccessful Chinese restaurant, in a light dramedy with a sloppily written script but a cast that’s likable enough to make you enjoy it anyway.
Above: ‘Out in the Night’ (Publicity photo)
Left: ‘Club King’; Above: ‘The Last One’ (Publicity photos)