Sundance Continues Through 1/25
In the aftermath of all those Mormon dollars supporting Prop 8, the Utah-based 2009 Sundance Film Festival was in the queer spotlight last month after calls by some in the gay community for a boycott of the uber queer-friendly event.
That boycott message was countered by immediate and effusive objections, and expressions of Sundance support, from such venerable queer film luminaries as: producer Christine Vachon, distributor Marcus Hu and director Gregg Araki (see Araki’s eloquent piece in the current print issue of The Advocate) or, since that isn’t available online, you could read my Bay Area Reporter Guest Opinion piece, “Yes On Sundance.”
With the festival getting underway from January 15 — 25 in Park City, Utah there are bound to be some picketers outside the Cinemark-owned Holiday Village Cinema (one of the main venues at Sundance). But community leaders —including the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and Outfest who both made official announcements of support for Sundance — seem to have moved on towards focusing on the films themselves and embracing the festival for being the longtime champion of LGBT cinema that it is.
On Sunday afternoon (January 18th) GLAAD’s Queer Lounge will present “LGBT Civil Rights, Film Activism & Proposition 8, “ a panel discussion exploring the role of activist filmmaking in the wake of Prop 8 with an all-star line up that includes Sundance director of programming John Cooper, TIMES OF HARVEY MILK director, Rob Epstein and cultural critic B. Ruby Rich. Go to QueerLounge.org to see the many other panels and special events happening at the Queer Lounge, which is THE place to see and be seen for all the gays.
The other legendary LGBT event of Sundance is the Outfest Queer Brunch (co-founded with PlanetOut back at the1997 Sundance Film Festival) which brings together every homo in town for bagels and melon balls and Bloody Marys from 11am-2pm on Sunday the 18th at the Grub Steak Restaurant.
But on to the queer films!
The most anticipated narrative feature film premieres at Sundance include:
From the creators of BAD SANTA (co-writer/directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa) comes what is sure to be the blockbuster gay movie of 2009. I LOVE YOU PHILLIP MORRIS is about a former Texas cop turned criminal (Jim Carrey) who falls in love with a fellow inmate (Ewan McGregor) in prison. The advance preview trailer makes it look like CHUCK & LARRY meets BROKEBACK. Since it’s premiering at Sundance, we’re feeling optimistic.
Shot in San Francisco’s Mission District Peter Bratt’s gay Latino drama, LA MISSION follows gay teen Jesse (Jeremy Ray Valdez) and his relationship with his tough guy Dad (Benjamin Bratt) who throws his son out of the house and then begins to grapple with his homophobia. The Bratt brothers were previously at Sundance with their uplifting road movie, FOLLOW ME HOME.
The comedy-drama DARE from director Adam Salky serves up a tale of three high school seniors (played by Emmy Rossum, Ashley Springer and Zach Gilford as the maybe gay guy). The film co-stars Alan Cumming and Sandra Bernhard. From writer-director Lynn Shelton comes the wild comedy HUMPDAY in which two straight guy friends have sex together on a dare for an amateur porn contest.
In PUSH: BASED ON A NOVEL BY SAPPHIRE Gabourey Sidibe stars as Precious Jones, an abused overweight teenage black girl whose life is changed when she attends a new school where she is inspired by a lesbian teacher (played by Paula Patton). With Mo'Nique, Sherri Shepherd, Lenny Kravitz, and Mariah Carey. Directed by Lee Daniels (SHADOWBOXER).
From Argentine writer-director Alexis Dos Santos (GLUE) comes the misfit multi-sexual romance UNMADE BEDS. This creative tale of youthful awakening is set against London’s club scene as Spanish boy Axl and the Belgian girl Vera find a variety of connections.
Keep an eye out as well for Stefano Tummolini’s Italian gay drama, ONE DAY IN A LIFE described in the Sundance catalog as: “a study of an ordinary day where an extraordinary thing happens—people are forced to slow down and become aware of the transformative pleasure of human contact.”
Two documentary features at Sundance look especially promising this year. R.J. Cutler’s THE SEPTEMBER ISSUE goes behind the scenes at Vogue Magazine to follow editor Anna Wintour and everything that goes into putting together that legendary issue which sets the trends of the fashion industry. From veteran Sundance director Liz Garbus (THE EXECUTION OF WANDA JEAN) comes SHOUTING FIRE: STORIES FROM THE EDGE OF FREE SPEECH which looks at the history of the First Amendment in America up to the current day.
Queer Sundance shorts include a new short documentary from legendary filmmaker Kenneth Anger called MY SURFING LUCIFER; 575 CASTRO ST., an experimental documentary shot on the empty set of Gus Van Sant’s MILK by yours truly (Jenni Olson); the Finnish comedy A MATE about a “straight” guy busted having sex with his friend; Marco Berger’s Argentine tale of gay desire, THE WATCH; the funniest short film made in the year 2008, Madeleine Olnek’s psychotherapy nightmare, COUNTERTRANSFERENCE; performance art documentary CHOP OFF by M.M. Serra; Irish teacher-student drama JAMES by Connor Clements; Julian Breece’s dark drama of a self-destructive gay teen trying to become HIV-positive THE YOUNG AND THE EVIL; and the innovative animated documentary THE KINDA SUTRA by Sundance veteran Jessica Yu.
by Jenni Olson
For more information about the festival go to Sundance.org and for a complete overview of pretty much every gay thing going on in Park City during the festival—including a list of LGBT films playing at Slamdance plus scads of party info—go visit QueerLounge.org!