Getting curious

Posted on 24 May 2012 at 10:15pm

Fort Worth’s Q Cinema returns for its 14th weekend-long festival of gay film

FROM DISCO TO PROTEST | The line-up at this year’s Q Cinema covers the waterfront, from a period piece about the disco era in French-speaking Canada (‘Funkytown,’ top), to a gay romance featuring a man with a disability (‘Morgan,’ center) to a documentary about Fort Worth’s most notorious gay bar (‘Raid of the Rainbow Lounge,’ below).

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor

Are you curious?” the theme for this year’s Q Cinema International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival (its 14th) asks. And of course, we are. The four-day celebration of queer filmmaking, which opens Thursday, features nearly 40 movies from shorts to features to documentaries and even some music videos and live performances — more than 18 hours of movie-related entertainment in all.

And there’s something for everyone. Short film programs cater to women, youth and those interested in same-sex marriage (maybe Barack Obama will show up); documentaries are as personal as what happened three years ago at the Rainbow Lounge to what HIV-positive kids as far away as Vancouver do to cope and what role Vito Russo played in chronicling gay history (answer: A lot). There are comedies, dramas, a staged reading of a movie script (adapted for theater), plus special guest appearances and a party every night.

In short, a festival.

The diversity of this year’s slate is its strong point, with no weak features in the lot. And best of all, there’s always something new to try. So grab your popcorn and your boyfriend and get curious.

Q Cinema runs May 31—June 3 at the Rose Marine Theater and other venues around Fort Worth. Tickets range from $10 for single tickets to $100 for an all-festival pass. Visit AreYouCurious.org or QCinema.org  for details.

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Funkytown
With a name like Funkytown, you might expect snappy musical comedy, but from the somber opening, you know the title is meant at least slightly ironically. It’s Montreal 1976, and disco is king, but there’s more to it than grins and giggles. Disco culture was also drug culture, and you sense things aren’t headed the right way for some of these people, like in a Scorsese film but with a French accent: Call it Boogie Nuits.

Comparisons to Scorsese are probably a little too generous, but Funkytown does have a slick look and a sense of the period. Justin Chatwin has his John Travolta moves perfected on the dance floor as he explores the gay underbelly of the city and takes us along. There’s a voyeuristic appeal to it that’s at times irresistible. It’s the movie 54 needed to be. — Arnold Wayne Jones
May 31 at 7:30 p.m. In French and English. Screens with video Chow Down (at Chik-Fil-A).

Raid of the Rainbow Lounge
If you lived in North Texas three summers ago, and even if you lived farther away, you’ll remember the news, arising on the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, of the TABC and Fort Worth police raid of the newly opened Rainbow Lounge in Cowtown. For months, it remained a popular topic of conversation, and sparked a newfound activism in the gay community.

Filmmaker Robert L. Camina grabbed his camcorder that Sunday morning when the news broke, and has spent much of the last three years piecing together the story of what really happened, with dozens of interviews and by pouring over volumes of reports and testimonies and news reports. The result: Raid of the Rainbow Lounge is a comprehensive and occasionally eye-opening chronicle of events still important to many locals.

In addition to the exhaustive reportage, the film also serves as reminder of the emotions many of us experienced at the time, reminding us of Chief Jeffrey Halstead (a polarizing figure) and the apparent foot-dragging of the investigation into What Really Happened. In that way, it churns up feelings and images that may have drifted out of our consciousness, at once reigniting our passions but also reassuring us that change can happen — even if we have to make it so. — AWJ
June 1 at 8 p.m.  Filmmaker in attendance.

Morgan
When I was assigned to review a love story about a gay paraplegic, I felt as though I’d lost a bet. I mention this not to point out what an asshole I am, but so my fellow assholes will think twice before dismissing Morgan. Although it does lean too hard on melodrama to force a climax, it’s not the pity party or tale of heroic struggle you might expect. In fact the heroes — Morgan and his paramour Dean — are such flawed individuals you may not always root for them to make it as a couple.

They meet after Morgan (Leo Minaya, strong in a complex role) loses the use of his legs in an accident in a bicycle race. He meets Dean, a fellow jock, and they fall in love. Morgan’s stubbornness and fiercely independent spirit, while admirable in some respects, creates problems for himself and others that he’s not willing to acknowledge. He insists on entering the bike race again, even though it could prove fatal for him and his new relationship. But while Morgan is a gay date movie, it’s not a tearjerker. Chick flick be damned. — Steve Warren
June 2 at 2 p.m. Screens with the short Fallen Comrade.

Positive Youth
Charlie David is kind of a renaissance man of the modern gay culture, with experience as a TV host (Bump!), screenwriter (Mulligans), actor (Dante’s Cove) and now documentary filmmaker. He shows adeptness at all of the above. He’s also incredibly handsome. Thank God at least he’s Canadian — there had to be something wrong with him.

His mini-feature Positive Youth takes just 45 minutes to introduce us to four young people, ages 18 to 27 who tell their stories of becoming HIV-positive matter-of-factly, without sentimentalization but with honesty. And in those stories, we see the panoply of experience common to so many, taking us from the testing (and shocking results) to coming out to parents and friends to developing sexual relationships and coping with medication (especially without insurance). It’s remarkable how, in four brief segments, we see men and women, white and black, urban and suburban, club-kid and homebody and all ring true. If only David would fiddle with the tone, which has the fast-paced, pop-scored short-attention-span style of an episode of MTV’s True Life. Then again, that might be the perfect venue for a film like this to reach its ideal audience. — AWJ
June 2 at 4 p.m. Screens with the shorts UB2 and Fucked.

GAYS ON FILM | ‘Vito’ is a documentary made for gay film lovers, just like its subject, Vito Russo.

A Perfect Ending
Showing as a work-in-progress though it’s reportedly very close to its final form, this is the latest lesbian romance from Nicole Conn (Elena Undone, Claire of the Moon). John Heard and Morgan Fairchild have supporting roles in the story of a wife and mother who comes out in the arms of a high-priced escort. The physical and emotional girl-girl action won’t interest most gay dudes, although the photos of Jessica Clark make me wonder if she has a brother. — SW
June 2 at 6 p.m.

Mulligans: A Staged Reading
Frequent Q Cinema guest Charlie David, whose Positive Youth screens this year, returns for the world premiere reading of a play drawn from his 2008 film, in which a young man spends the summer with the family of his best college friend and winds up bringing his friend’s father out of the closet. “Mulligan” is a golf term for a do-over, “when a player gets a second chance to perform a certain move or action.” This play is a mulligan for David, whose overall solid film script had a lot of minor inconsistencies that needed tweaking. Let’s hope he’s taken advantage of it. — SW
June 2 at 8 p.m.

Vito
Part of me has grown a little weary of documentaries about the early days of the gay rights movement (they started about three years ago around the anniversary of Stonewall). But when you do them well, you deserve the credit.

Vito starts like a lot of them, reminding us of the plight of the early days of modern American gay persecution. It feels a bit slapdash (we literally hop from 1954 to 1969 in 30 seconds) rushing to explain the circumstances by which Vito Russo became radicalized, but once it gets going, it’s a different film: Not just about Russo’s activism, but his unique place as the first historian of gay culture.

Russo — who dies of AIDS in 1990, at age 44 — was an early crusader, but gained his greatest fame as a media analyst and journalist, publishing celebrity interviews and even screening campy movies for all-gay audiences, incidentally discovering the hidden history of gay cinema, which turned out to be in plain sight if you just knew where to look for it. (It led to his seminal book, The Celluloid Closet.) More than that, though, Vito shows how Russo was the first person to treat the gay sub-culture as one worthy of rigorous study not from a political but an artistic and personal expression. “The essence of gay liberation is politics you can dance to,” one commentator observes in the film. If so, Vito Russo wrote the soundtrack. — AWJ
June 3 at noon.

LOVE AND PARENT | The supporting characters in the baby-making comedy ‘Gayby’ give it a definite ‘Will & Grace’ vibe.

Kiss Me
Reviewed next week.
June 3 at 4 p.m.

Gayby
Gayby is a bundle of joy. It’s got the most crossover potential of any queer film since The Kids Are All Right, so take advantage of what might be your last chance to see it with “family.”

Like Will & Grace with procreation, it’s about straight woman Jenn who responds to the ticking of her biological clock by asking her gay best friend Matt to father a child “the old-fashioned way.” They don’t exactly have beginner’s luck in conceiving but they keep trying, all the while having ups and downs in their individual searches for Mr. Right. The concept is serviceable, but it’s the details that make Gayby work so well. There are the usual rom-com complications, but enough of them are fresh enough that you can excuse the few tired twists.

Writer-director Jonathan Lisecki heads a diverse group of supporting characters as an effeminate gay man who’s decided to be a “bear.” The little-known cast, mostly

New York stage actors, is augmented by Dulé Hill as a potential romance for Jenn and Sarita Choudhury as her pregnancy guru. — SW

June 3 at 7 p.m. Screening with the video The Vagina Song.

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Q Cinema: The Schedule

All programs at the Rose Marine Theater, 1440 Main St., Fort Worth, unless noted

Funkytown. The disco era, as it happened in French-speaking Canada. 135 mins. Preceded by the video Chow Down (At Chik-Fil-A).
May 31 at 7:30 p.m.

Won’t You Take Me to Funkytown Opening Night Party
At the T&P Tavern, May 31 at 10 p.m.

An Evolving Issue: Gay Marriage Shorts. Program includes: Always Again, The Defenders, Groom’s Cake,Harvey & Peter, Homecoming, It’s the law, A Wedding Dance. 60 mins.
June 1 at 6:30 p.m.

Raid of the Rainbow Lounge. Dallas filmmaker Robert L. Camina charts the historic events at the Cowtown gay club. 100 mins.
June 1 at 8 p.m.

The White Party. At The Where House,
June 1 at 10 p.m.

Ladies Shorts Are Showing. Program includes: Connected, Family Portrait, Ms. Thing, Prince’s Sword, Pursuit, Republicans, Get In My Vagina!, The Plan, What Could Be. 90 mins.
June 2 at noon.

Morgan. (Southwest premiere.) A gay paraplegic enters a wheelchair race. Preceded by the short Fallen Comrade. 100 mins.
June 2 a 2 p.m.

Positive Youth. (Southwest premiere.) Doc about HIV-positive young people. Preceded by the shorts UB2 and Fucked. 60 mins.
June 2 at 4 p.m.

A Perfect Ending. A special “work in progress” screening of a film about a repressed socialite who reveals too much to an escort. 90 mins.
June 2 at 6 p.m.

Mulligans: A Staged Reading. (World premiere.) QLive! debuts this adaptation of the coming-of-age film set at a country club.
June 2 at 8 p.m.

The Nineteenth Hole After Party
At Wild About Food,
June 2 at 10 p.m.

Vito. Documentary about gay historian Vito Russo (The Celluloid Closet). 90 mins.
June 3 at noon.

Youth Shorts. Program includes: The Art of Walking Through the Streets, Bosco the Orange, Cure(d), A Fairy Tale, Hold on Tight, The Next One, Spiral Transition Take It/Break It, The Violation. 100 mins.
June 3 at 2 p.m.

Kiss Me. (Southwest premiere.) A Swedish love story between two stepsisters. 105 mins.
June 3 at 4 p.m.

Gayby. Will & Grace-esque comedy about best friends who decide to have a love child.Preceded by the video The Vagina Song. 90 mins.
June 3 at 7 p.m.

The Q Awards/Closing Night Party
June 3 at 9 p.m.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 25, 2012.

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