High School Rebel

Posted on 08 Jun 2006 at 7:05pm
By Daniel A. Kusner – Life+Style Editor

Israel Luna attacks DISD with biting satire. Gay filmmaker uses Internet to get message across



CLASS DISMISSED: Last month, Israel Luna was offered a position teaching film production at a North Dallas high school. According to Luna, when DISD discovered the gay director had made two R-rated films, the summer job was rescinded.

When you were in high school, did you ever hate having to bite your tongue fearing unjust retribution?

Well, Israel Luna isn’t afraid. And he isn’t in high school anymore. But earlier this week, the Dallas filmmaker launched a hilarious salvo at the Dallas Independent School District. And it’s arguably the best work of his career.

With only a few credits under his belt, Luna is a promising director. The DVD release of his latest film, “The Deadbeat Club,” is featured in a two-page spread in the June issue of Out magazine. And in 2004, the movie won the Audience Award at the Deep Ellum Film Festival.

Last month, Luna says he was offered a job teaching film production for a summer school program at Thomas Jefferson High School. During the interview process, Luna says he informed the principal that he was gay and that he had directed two R-rated movies. According to Luna, the principal didn’t have any objections regarding his sexual identity or his oeuvre.

But, less than a week later, Luna said he was notified that the teaching position was rescinded due to his “questionable credentials.”

Disappointed and obviously bitter, Luna did what John Waters and the creators of “South Park” would do he made a film about it: “My Apology to DISD.”

Earlier this week, the short film was launched on one of Luna’s Web sites. It’s ballsy, juvenile and very funny. And considering how quickly Luna shot and edited it, the film showcases his many directorial strengths especially how he coaxes strong performances from his actors. Luna even manages to incorporate punch lines aimed at the recent pot-laced muffins scandal that sent 18 Lake Highland High School teachers to the hospital.

Whether or not Luna can prove that DISD violated its non-discrimination policy is up for debate. In most cases, the usual embittered job applicant might trip over themselves running to the nearest lawyer. This week, Luna earned big points as an indie film director he ran to his camera.

Dallas Voice contacted DISD media services about Luna’s film. Ivette Cruz Weis, DISD director of media relations, said, “DISD doesn’t discuss personnel matters.”

NASHVILLE, MINNESOTA


RADIO DAYS: From left, Keillor, Streep, Tomlin and Lohan belt one out.

“A Prairie Home Companion” will attract fans of Robert Altman and Garrison Keillor but will give everyone a great time.

The fictional radio show “A Prairie Home Companion” is very similar to the like-named real radio show, likewise hosted by Keillor (who plays a variation on himself). The originating Minnesota station has been sold to a Texas company that’s sending The Axeman (Tommy Lee Jones) to pull the plug after tonight’s show.

Narrator Guy Noir (hilarious Kevin Kline) speaks as if he’s in a pulp novel. The former detective keeps his private eye on The Dangerous Woman (Virginia Madsen) as she lurks backstage.

Among the show’s stars are singing duos the Johnson Girls, Yolanda (Meryl Streep) and Rhonda (Lily Tomlin); and Dusty (John C. Reilly) and Lefty (Woody Harrelson). Yolanda’s daughter Lola (Lindsay Lohan) awaits her break.
Inevitably compared to “Nashville,” “A Prairie Home Companion” is much simpler in plot and structure but still lets Altman show his mastery at creating realistic franticness in a make-believe world. It’s a tall tale about tellers of tall tales and Altman stands tallest of all. It’s not his most challenging work but shows that at 81 he’s still one of our best directors.

Steve Warren

Grade: B

Opens June 9 in wide release.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, June 09, 2006.

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