Local Produce: Local Shorts
Saturday, October 14, 12:00pm
Still from To Be A Heart
This 92-minute program of shorts features the queer related works of Pacific Northwest filmmakers. The films vary greatly in genre, format, subject matter, production value and overall quality. If you want to see what local directors are up to and view a couple of really good films while wading through some mediocre, and some down right bad, films this is the program for you. If you want to see shorts of a more consistent quality then check out some of the other short programs at the festival like The Young and The Breathless.
Several films had either strong production values but weak stories or strong stories with weak production values. To Be A Heart had a great premise- it's a clever meditation on gender- but the acting and production design were a letdown. Another worthwhile entry was the four-minute short Bedfellows, which had a clever premise and a great amusing script. Drafting Dimensions had an interesting sci-fi/metaphysical concept, some great art design, but the second-rate cinematography and special effects along with wooden acting undercut the big ideas in the script.
The first film that stands out in this program is The Sisterhood of the Night. It's not a perfect film, the pacing drags a bit and the story was a rehash of The Crucible with a modern Buffy/The Craft/Ginger Snaps view of teenage female sexuality. However the narrative structure, the acting and the visual style of the film are first rate.
The best of the lot by far was Free Parking. The story is simple, two sisters are sent out to pick blackberries, but the complexity of their relationship is conveyed in a brilliantly naunced script and two realistically complicated performances by the young actresses playing the sisters. Frankly, I felt it was worth the whole program to see this short. It'll be interesting to see where the director, Laura Jean Cronin goes as a filmmaker.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
2006 Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival
It is time once again for the Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival which consistently excels in its programming. Over the past six years of covering this event, I have seen the festival grow in number of days, venues and films without losing its quality of programming while pursuing a higher quantity of films. This year's festival, the eleventh one, opens with a real programming coup, screening what will probably be the most controversial film of the year, James Cameron Mitchell's follow up to his brilliant directorial debut, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, the sexually explicit Shortbus. The characters include a dominatrix, a sex therapist, and a gay couple looking for a third partner, all of whom are dealing with a variety of sex and intimacy issues. This film reflects the spirit of the rest of the programming, one of true diversity.
The diversity of the programming this year shows in the range of genre: documentary, comedy, romance, erotica, political satire, musical performance, and the ever popular annual sing-a-long musical, this year it's Funny Girl. Funny Girl is one of several archival screenings this year, they are also presenting Ken Russell's lush epic, The Music Lovers, a film about the life of Tchaikovsky (one of a series of films Russell made about great musical composers.) Both are being screened at the Cinerama. The festival is also screening the late Russ Meyer's ode to big-busted women and the violence they do, Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! Its iconic star, Tura Satana will be in attendance.
The festival will also have a diverse range of subjects in its feature length and short documentaries and narrative films. The subjects include some of the most pressing issues in the current human rights battle: marriage and family, religion, race and transgender issues. The films also cover non-political subjects like the humorous and tragic travails of love, the perils of music fandom and gay zombies.
Yes, gay zombies! Creatures from The Pink Lagoon, produced right here in Seattle will be playing at the festival. (This shameless plug brought to you by a minor crewmember of the film.) Also for the locally minded there is Boy Culture, which was also shot here in Seattle. (Click here:http://www.siffblog.com/reviews/boy_culture_003516.html# for a full review of it.) Plus there is an entire program of locally made shorts called Local Produce: Local Shorts that is also screening at the festival. Check out the schedule for show times and ticket information: http://www.seattlequeerfilm.com/06/schedule.html
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Sunday, June 15th, 9:15 p.m. Harvard Exit
Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival
Please take advantage of Seattle getting this great film a second time. This review was originally written for its screening at SIFF.
Here's my problem with most gay dramas; they usually fall into one of four categories Coming Out, Dying of Aids, The Loves and Travails of a Group of Friends and Hustlers. Granted Boy Culture technically falls into Hustlers, but within the first five minutes of the film it satirizes this fact in a wittily self-reflexive way.
Admirably, director and co-screenwriter Q. Allan Brocka was able to incorporate several of these self-parodying jokes; as well as use cliched gay film scenarios like the gay man secretly in love with best friend; and the usual stock homosexual characters- older mentor, hustler with the heart of gold, and humorous sluttish twink with secret depths; and still manage to come up with an original smart and insightful drama about three dimensional characters behaving in a realistic manner. In other words, he gives us the best of both worlds and challenges the audience to look at gay interrelationships as they are in the real world. Plus, impressively, he makes Seattle, where the film is set, look like Seattle-there are days when it doesn't rain and there are locations other than the Space Needle.
Brocka also wisely cast the wonderful character actor Patrick Bauchau, whom you've seen a half a dozen times playing the wise mentor to numerous heroes, as, well, the wise mentor to the high paid hustler/hero of this piece the self-named X. Bauchau's character, Gregory, gives X, (insightfully played by Derek Magyar) much needed lessons in human connection and risk taking which in addition to living with his two roommates, Blowey Joey (the twink and X's surrogate son) and Andrew (X's potential love interest) may or may not lead him successfully down the rocky path to romance. Gregory winds up not being quite what he seem which again pays tribute to the cleverness of the screenplay and direction.