50 SHADES OF GAY
by STEVE WARREN
For the first time in its 28 years, Out On Film can be legally married in Georgia! Well, I’m not sure the Supreme Court ruling covers festival marriages, but Out On Film director (and Georgia Voice contributor) Jim Farmer tied the knot with Craig Hardesty on July 2, and yours truly got hitched in Florida to Dan Warren (formerly Smith) on Jan. 15.
In other words, a lot more than Caitlyn Jenner’s gender has changed since last year’s festival. Have the movies kept up with the times?
As Sarah Palin (remember her?) might say, “You betcha!”
You can see how well they’ve kept up if you look back at the early days of Out On Film, which presents its 28th slate of movies from Oct. 1 through 8 at the Landmark Theatres Midtown Art Cinema. A typical festival in the recent past might have included a rom-com about a gay man looking for (and finding) love, a drama about a woman leaving her husband after realizing she prefers another woman, and a documentary about the nascent “gay” (or “gay and lesbian”) movement in another country.
Films about trans people would have been rare, and even L, G and B films were often in short supply, though what few did exist would be helped by distributors of those newfangled “home videos” trying to build word of mouth for their upcoming releases.
Cut to 2015. Today, we have all kinds of narrative and documentary films, about people all up and down the Kinsey scale, in various phases of transition, and mingling freely in a diverse society.
September 18, 2015
Production values are up, too, and are now at least equal to those of hetero indie films, because there’s increased competition from cable, Netflix and other distribution outlets. As GLAAD pointed out recently, TV series with at least one LGBT character have become the rule rather than the exception.
Remember when we were lucky to have one film with LGBT content (e.g., “Philadelphia,” “Brokeback Mountain” or “Milk”) carrying the banner for us in award season?
This year’s acting Oscar winners, Julianne Moore and Eddie Redmayne, are in contention again—Moore for playing a lesbian in “Freeheld,” showing in Out On Film on Oct. 4 (and which also features an acting nominee for this year, Steve Carell, as a gay man) and Redmayne for playing a transgender woman in “The Danish Girl.” There’s also award buzz around Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara as a lesbian couple in “Carol,” Elle Fanning as a transgender teen in “About Ray,” and Tom Hardy as the Kray twins, one of whom was gay, in “Legend.”
With all these and more, including the controversial “Stonewall” (opening on Sep. 25) and “The New Girlfriend” (opening on Oct. 2) coming to theaters, you may wonder what’s left for a festival. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the answer.
Here are my thoughts on more than half of the festival features, which I was able to preview. As a critic (a.k.a. “professional bitch”), I didn’t love them all, but that doesn’t mean you won’t.
For complete festival information and to buy tickets, visit www.outonfilm.org. For extended versions of my reviews, go to thegavoice.com.