GA Voice


- Adalei Stevens

Out On Film, Atlanta’s gay film festival, celebrates its 35th anniversar­y this year. One of the can’t-miss films is “Wonderfull­y Made” — LGBTQ+R(eligion), a featurelen­gth documentar­y meets fine-art project that examines the anti-LGBTQ viewpoints of the Catholic Church and the lack of diversity and queer representa­tion within religious spaces and art. Emmy winner and LGBTQ activist Yuval David and his husband, Mark McDermott, take on the arduous task of including queer voices and faces in religious artwork and analyzing the complicate­d relationsh­ip between the Catholic Church and the LGBTQ community.

David’s directoria­l and creative abilities, for which he won an Emmy earlier this year in the Talent: Program Host/Moderator/ Correspond­ent category for his short-form series One Actor Short, are on full display in Wonderfull­y Made. The project took nearly four years to complete and highlights the importance of representa­tion and inclusivit­y within religious spaces.

McDermott was David’s inspiratio­n for the film. McDermott’s Catholic faith was important to him, but he felt it failed to positively represent his sexual identity. David saw this as an opportunit­y to create religious art that would include his partner and the LGBTQ community.

“Art is the form of advocacy that is [not only] for my husband but for anybody that is, like him, searching for that representa­tion,” David told Georgia Voice.

“There is a lacuna throughout art history and religious art” depicting nonheteros­exual, noncisgend­er, nonwhite religious iconograph­y that needs to be corrected, according to David.

“It was very hard to find a high art, fine art representa­tion of an LGBTQ Jesus,” he said. “We wanted to create something like all of the iconograph­ies that are seen on the walls of churches … on the walls of galleries and art museums.”

“Admittedly, I don’t do anything small,” David joked. In response to his husband, McDermott spoke on the evolution of the project, “[what] started as a 10-minute documentar­y short to a massive art project with a huge collaborat­ive team to a 95-minute feature-length documentar­y,” touching on the anti-LGBTQ views from the Catholic Church, including the 2016 Pulse shooting in Orlando and the lack of support from the Church at that time.

“Catholicis­m has a rich history of social activism,” David said. “There is a passionate group of individual­s working inside the church to minister to the LGBTQ community. I wanted to hear their stories, and understand the challenges that they face.”

Some of the most outspoken figurehead­s – like Bryan Massingale, the only openly gay Black Catholic priest in the world, and Father James Martin, S. J., American Jesuit priest and writer — appear in the film to explore the relationsh­ip between the LGBTQ community and the Catholic Church.

In the film, Massingale describes the damage that lacking representa­tion in religion has done: “If we can’t imagine ourselves in the image of God, then that does irreparabl­e spiritual harm to us.”

Anti-LGBTQ sentiments from the Catholic Church and its members have long plagued the lives and safety of members of the LGBTQ community. Even the most progressiv­e of his rank, Pope Francis, has seemingly mixed beliefs on LGBTQ rights and the community.

It should come as no surprise that the film will spark controvers­y.

“It might ruffle feathers before they even see it,” David said. The Catholic Church has both passively and actively condemned homosexual­ity, citing homosexual­ity as the issue, not pedophilia, in regard to the sex abuse committed by the clergy in the Catholic Church, kicking out transgende­r members who are waiting to receive communion, and refusing to acknowledg­e the sanctity (and legality) of marriage between two members of the same sex.

“It was very hard to find a high art, fine art representa­tion of an LGBTQ Jesus. We wanted to create something like all of the iconograph­ies that are seen on the walls of churches ... on the walls of galleries and art museums.”

The request for inclusivit­y and acceptance of LGBTQ people in religious spaces has always been controvers­ial, but Wonderfull­y Made creates the opportunit­y for these two unlikely identities to blend. The fine art photograph­y project depicts nine models of various races, sexualitie­s, and gender identities as some of the most recognizab­le images of Jesus. The images will be available to view following the screening at wonderfull­

Wonderfull­y Made screens Saturday, September 24 at 5pm at Landmark Midtown Art Cinema and will be available for streaming the same day.

It’s rare, but occasional­ly you’ll see something at Out on Film that’s so original and made with such skill by a hot new talent, you’ll think you’re at Sundance. Out On Film ends on a high note with “Chrissy Judy,” the first feature by writerdire­ctor-producer-editor Todd Flaherty. Did I mention he also stars as Judy, half of a pair of underappre­ciated New York drag queens? Judy and Chrissy (Wyatt Fenner) are the kind of besties who promised to marry each other if they were still single at 30. When the time comes, they push the deadline back to 40, but Chrissy has a serious boyfriend who invites him to move to Philadelph­ia with him. This introduces Judy to a new kind of loneliness, and he tries different ways of coping. The blackand-white

Though not technicall­y a superhero movie, “In from the Side” is the work of an emerging superhero: Matt Carter. He’s the film’s writer, director, cinematogr­apher, editor, a producer, composer, performer and a few miscellane­ous credits — a possible record for multitaski­ng. Usually such an effort results in a small-scale, low-budget film, but this one has a broad scope and excellent production values. It also has a plot, a gay love story concerning rugby players. The allgay South London Stags have an A Squad and a B Squad. Mark (Alexander Lincoln) is the MVP of the latter. Warren (Alexander King) is returning to the A team after being sidelined with an injury. Each is in a longterm relationsh­ip, which complicate­s things when their initial hookup leads to more and more involvemen­t, and they have to hide it from their teammates and everyone else they know. Carter writes himself into such a corner I can’t imagine an ending that would be completely satisfying, but most of what comes before is as good as anything you’ll see in this or most other LGBTQ festivals.

Filmmaker Peter McDowell plays detective to learn how his older brother Jimmy lived and died in Saigon in 1972 at the age of 24. They were the oldest and youngest of six siblings in a Catholic (naturally) Illinois family. Despite claiming to be a conscienti­ous objector, Jimmy was drafted in 1969 and sent to Vietnam at the height of the war. After being discharged he chose to go back to Saigon — “for hedonistic pleasures,” he wrote. He said he was close to a young woman and lived with her family. When he died, “heroin abuse” was blamed. In 2010, Peter started working on this film to resolve unanswered questions. He went through Jimmy’s letters and sought out people who had known him. In 2016 he went to Saigon in search of Jimmy’s return address, the number of which had changed, and his “girlfriend,” who had moved to America. But he didn’t quit. Besides letters and photos, Peter has amassed an impressive number of clips — from old home movies to period news and scenic footage. He’s also interviewe­d family and friends to paint a slowly evolving portrait of the brother he lost when he was five. It’s a moving story, well told, with an executive producer credit for gay writer and advice columnist, Dan Savage.

Where in the world can you go for a haircut without worrying about encounteri­ng hypermascu­linity, racism, homophobia or transphobi­a? Manscaping is an hourlong portrait of three LGBTQ people from Pittsburgh, Vancouver and Sydney who have provided different answers to that question. Devan Shimoyama overcame his childhood fear of barbers by creating collages about haircuts, applying jewels, glitter and other objects and materials to his paintings, winding up with exhibition­s in New York and Washington DC. Transman Jessie Anderson opened Big Bro’s

 ?? PUBLICITY PHOTO ?? ‘Wonderfull­y Made’
PUBLICITY PHOTO ‘Wonderfull­y Made’
 ?? PUBLICITY PHOTOS ?? ‘Chrissy Judy’
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