Gay films at Dallas Video Fest
The 26th Dallas Video Festival starts next week with a new venue (The Alamo Drafthouse in Richardson) and countless new films. Among those are several documentaries with gay subject matter (reviewed below), but part of the fun of a festival lies in discovering new things (one I wanna see? A documentary about the incredible physicality of sprinter Usain Bolt, called Miracle Body), so explore — and enjoy a bite and a beer at the drafthouse.
Dallas Video Festival at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, 100 S. Central Expressway, Richardson. Oct. 9–13. For details, visit VideoFest.org.
United in Anger. In March of 1987, Larry Kramer delivered a fiery speech that, two days later, led to the creation of ACT UP, the most radicalized of the gay-rights groups in the early years of AIDS activism. Within the first few months, hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people with AIDS and their supporters had mobilized fist-shaking protests and marches in New York, from the investment banks on Wall Street to the halls of Sloane-Kettering hospital to the FDA itself. They were mad as hell, and they weren’t gonna take it any more.
United in Anger is both a video history of that period — with tons of archival footage of early grassroots meetings, marches and TV coverage — as well as current-day interviews with the lucky survivors who had a hand in getting ACT UP off the ground. The problem is, if any of this sounds familiar, it’s because journalist David France made How to Survive a Plague, a documentary about the exact same topic (the founding of the movement) just last year … and it was nominated for an Oscar for best documentary.
That’s quite a context in which United in Anger has to operate, and while it ably covers the same material, it lacks Plague’s sense of drama and structural power.
But Jim Hubbard’s film still manages to stand on its own. Celebrated folks like Peter Staley, Vito Russo, Michelangelo Signorile, Tom Kalin and others are profiled or interviewed, as well as Kramer himself, and the film tackles tangential issues, such as the poster art (some shockingly explicit) used to get the word out and how the meetings became a social outlet for many folks, as well as insights into how the group eventually fractured.
Screens Oct. 11, 9:45 p.m.
Lucky. Lucky has the look of a modern urban kid — the body art, the piercings, the knit snood over a fluorescent Mohawk — but even she takes it further than most. Her ink includes face tattoos, and metal pokes from every orifice on her head. John Mayer sings a woman’s body was a wonderland; for Lucky, it’s a canvas. (She looks for work as a model, without much luck.)
Lucky has decorated her exterior so no one looks close enough at her interior: A gay, orphaned, homeless single mom and product of “the system.” Despite its handheld simplicity, the film is ambitious, tracking several years in her volatile life: Her dreams, strength and resilience in the face of seemingly endless adversity.
Screens Oct. 13, noon.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 4, 2013.