Best Bets • 04.22.16

Friday 04.22 — Sunday 05.22


It’s time you start defying gravity: ‘Wicked’ returns for a month!

Chances are you heard that Stephen Schwartz, the composer of the megaton musical Wicked, pulled the national tour from performing in North Carolina as a result of that state’s anti-gay, transphobic legislation. Who says are and politics don’t go together? But that’s just one reason to show your support for the show, with settled in for a month-long run at Fair Park, courtesy of Dallas Summer Musicals. There’s also the grand spectacle, the thrilling songs, the touching story. If you’re not already a friend of Dorothy, this will make you one.

Fair Park Music Hall
901 First Ave.
Through May 22

Friday 04.22 — Sunday 04.24


USAFF, DIFF wrap up this weekend

Two of Dallas’ biggest film festivals — the USA Film Festival and the Dallas International Film Festival — are going on simultaneously right now through Sunday,  and even if you have missed some of the screenings all ready, there’s still time to catch up. And since both are centered at the Angelika Film Center, you don’t even have to go far to enjoy them both.

Angelika Film Center Mockingbird Station
5307 E. Mockingbird Lane
For schedules, visit and

Saturday 04.23


Joan Rivers reincarnated (sorta)

The death two years ago of Joan Rivers has left a queer hole in our collective comedy, and Joe Posa loves to fill holes. The dragtastic comedy performs his tribute show to the hilariously inappropriate queen or standup with a one-night-only show.
The Brick
2525 Wycliffe Ave.
7 p.m.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 22, 2016.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

GAY@USA (and DIFF, too!)

Out directors are gaining more mainstream acceptance, with queer films and filmmakers front-and-center at 2 Dallas film fests this week


GAY SACHS | Filmmaker Ira Sachs’ latest movie, ‘Little Men,’ screens this week at the USA Film Festival — one of three movies by out filmmakers that will screen on the opening night of the 46th festival.

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Executive Editor

There was a time when you went to theater for “the gay stuff” and the movies for everything else. Sure, there have always been indie films, but even the festival circuit was unofficially divided into “mainstream” and “LGBT.”

Well, not anymore. When I contacted James Faust, who runs the Dallas International Film Festival, a month ago to ask if there would be any gay-interest movies in the line-up this year, his response was: “Only half the festival.” While that’s a bit of an exaggeration, it’s true that there is a surfeit of gay-themed movies and queer filmmakers represented at the 10th DIFF this year, which is currently underway and continues through April 24. (See sidebar)

Just as impressively is this year’s 46th annual USA Film Festival, which screens fewer films but is just as devoted to queer voices as larger cinema-gatherings. In fact, for the first time ever, all the films screening during the opening night of the festival are by out directors, including original House of Cards creator Terrence Davies (Sunset Song), Steven Pomerantz (the locally-produced documentary Taking Back Oak Lawn; see interview Page 8) and Ira Sachs, whose Little Men is not, outwardly, a “gay film” at all. Which is how it should be.

“[Little Men] is a film about the friendship between two boys, and while it’s not a sexual relationship, it is a very romantic friendship — which many gay people can relate to … as do straight people,” says Sachs. On the other hand, “there’s a very gay filmmaker who made it! I do believe there is a kind of sensibility we have as individuals that you can’t deny in the body of work. I adhere to the auteur theory that the filmmaker becomes [part of the storytelling].”

It’s not surprising, then, that out filmmakers who have become known for adding to the canon of queer cinema are turning their sights on non-gay-specific stories that nevertheless are imbued with their unique perspectives.

“I do think being a queer man is how I experience other people — I experienced some isolation growing up,” Sachs explains.
“I was a gay kid [in Memphis] who was very involved in a children’s theater that really embraced outsiders in terms of race, class, sexuality — the last truly diverse community I was a part of. And [Little Men] is about how art and creativity can become a vessel for kids who want to be different, how that forms the next story in their lives. But they are definitely different.”



This is something of a reverse from the way stories were told in the past. Often, mainstream “gay” movies (The Boys in the Band, Making Love, Brokeback Mountain) could only get off the ground with straight directors (and usually actors); gay Hollywood directors like George Cukor masked their sensibilities as “women’s pictures.” But for Sachs at least, he sought his inspiration from more radical corners.

“I think there are many traditions as filmmakers we are in conversation with. More than the mainstream Hollywood films, for me was [the cinema of gay filmmakers] Fassbender and Pasolini and Visconti,” he says. “Perhaps this history of queer cinema, or you could say the history of rigorous storytelling by gay artists. It all goes back to [19th century novelist] Henry James. No single artist has been more inspiring to me than him, who looked at his time from the standpoint of an outsider in his sexuality.” (That said, his next project is an HBO movie, starring Matt Bomer, about the troubled, closeted Hollywood actor Montgomery Clift.)


‘Alzheimer’s: A Love Story’

At USAFF, gay themes work their way into others film — not necessarily subtly, but directly. One of the movies screening, Alzheimer’s: A Love Story, is a short documentary about a gay couple, one of whom has such severe dementia he cannot recall who his partner is (try to watch it and not cry). But its universality will hit home with audiences of any orientation.

Another documentary — the impressive Witness, about the famed 1964 murder of Kitty Genovese — brings up the victim’s lesbianism, which was well-known among her friends but was white-washed in all news coverage at the time.

It’s not merely on the screen where LGBT audiences can enjoy the fest. Just as notable is that many of the honorees at USAFF are popular figures as allies of the gay community. Sachs cast Alfred Molina, who starred in his gay romance Love is Strange, in a small role here. actor Bruce Davison — who won an Oscar nomination for the AIDS-themed drama Longtime Companion and was a vocal advocate for inclusiveness — will be saluted with a retrospective, and Dallas legend Linda Gray is among the guests and moderators. The festival is also dedicated in part to the late Richard Glatzer (Still Alice), the gay filmmaker (with his husband Wash Westmoreland) who passed away last year from ALS.

Film festivals, in fact, are an integral experience for directors like Sachs.

Screen shot 2016-04-14 at 9.26.28 AM“There is less interest in specific stories about everyday lives [in Hollywood],” he says. “What’s great about festivals is engaging with an audience in a particular community, to hear how people respond [to a film]. Each city is different and each has a different relationship to cinema. It shows that it does still matter where you are.”
And the ability to tell entertaining and personal stories that resonate with multiple audiences is still the goal of the artist.

“I make films where there’s a voice as a gay man in it, but we’re all part of the same history,” Sachs says. “To me, it’s all one long story and trying to understand how people get through their days. What are the challenges these folks are facing? Telling the story of two boys in Brooklyn or Montgomery Clift? It’s the same thing.”

Sachs and Molina will be in attendance at the screening of Little Men Thursday, and saluted for their contributions to cinema.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 15, 2016.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

DIFF unveils first 10 films at festival, including one about gay rodeos

WADE_PRIDE_FLAGThe Dallas International Film Festival released the names of the first 10 films confirmed to show at the festival next month, and among them is one about gay rodeos. Queens & Cowboys: A Straight Year on the Gay Rodeo chronicles a season with the IGRA from the start to the world finals.

Among the other films announced are Joe, from North Texas native David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express); Words and Pictures, the newest film from Australia director Fred Schepisi; Hellion, starring Breaking Bad‘s Aaron Paul; and the world premiere of Believe Me with Nick Offerman. There will also be a 30th anniversary screening of Wim Wenders’ Paris, Texas at the Texas Theatre.

The festival takes place April 3–13. Tickets and more information available at

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Gays clean up at DIFF

I noted a few weeks ago that the Dallas International Film Festival was very gay this year. Well, hopefully the organizers will realize how beneficial that is.

film-04Two gay-themed films — the Texas-shot gay drama Pit Stop by former Dallasite Yen Tan and the documentary God Loves Uganda, about anti-gay efforts in the African nation, pictured, — won two of the top prizes at DIFF this weekend.

Pit Stop won the Grand Jury Prize in the Texas Competition. That comes with the plum award of the festival: a $30,000 Panavision film package. For indie filmmaking, that’s huge; Tan’s budget for Pit Stop — a romance about two closeted gay men in small-town Texas — was $22,000, which he raised online.

God Loves Uganda received the $10,000 (cash) Grand Jury Prize for Documentary Feature award from DIFF. It was also a hit at Sundance earlier this year.

Other winners announced this weekend:

• Grand Jury Prize for Narrative Feature: A Teacher

• Embrey Family Foundation Silver Heart Award: Tomlinson Hill

• Audience Award for Narrative Feature: The Kings of Summer

• Audience Award for Documentary: The Crash Reel

• Audience Award for Short Film: Head Over Heels

• Other short film winners include Black Metal and The First Hope; honorable mention went to The Dirties (about school bullying), Laurence Anyways (also with queer themes) and Very Small Things.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Dallas International Film Fest gets really gay — including me on the dais

HWMFTY_Halley Feiffer - Times Square

The Dallas International Film Festival continues today (and through Sunday), following a spate of uber-gay films for the past few days, including Ash Christian’s Petunia and Michael Urie’s He’s Way More Famous Than You, pictured, just last night. Tonight gets even gayer — though they are mostly competing with each other. You can start with Laurence Anyways at 1 p.m., a sort of Wuthering Heights with a trans character, then you can hop over to Urie’s Famous at 4 p.m. Then it starts to get messy.

The screening of C.O.G., based on the writing of David Sedaris, starts at 7 p.m.; at the same time, Cry screens, with local actors like Denise Lee and honorary Dallasite Del Shores featured; then God Loves Uganda, a documentary about all the anti-gay legislation (promoted by American fundamentalists) in the African nation at 7:15 p.m. All are worth a look, but you’ll have to pick!

And you can learn even more about two more movies just before 7. From about 6 to 7 p.m., I’ll be interviewing the filmmakers with two of the hotly discussed films at this year’s fest: The Dirties and Diving Normal. Best of all? Neither film screens until 10 p.m., so you can attend the interviews (conducted on the stage outside the Magnolia Theater in the West Village, between it and Mi Cocina), see one of the 7 p.m. films and then make one of the others.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

This week’s takeaways: Life+Style


It’s a busy, exciting weekend in Dallas — especially for the gays! First off, our Spring Sports Issue is on the stands, with cool stories about the lesbian tennis group Sets in the City and the newest gay rugby team. And that comes right on the heels of Mavs owner Mark Cuban giving the gays a shout-out on Fox Sports. Just after Magic Johnson endorsed the idea of an openly gay player in Los Angeles, Cuban said he’d be “honored” to have the first out player in Dallas. Read about it here.

That’s just some of the fun, though. At the premiere of the Dallas International Film Festival this week, artistic director James Faust bragged to me that he programmed this year’s seventh annual event with lots of gay content in mind. It starts this afternoon at 4:15 p.m. at the Angelika, with Del Shores in attendance for the screening of the film Cry, in which he has a featured acting role. It gets even gayer next week with the local debuts of Ash Christian’s gay rom-com Petunia with Michael Urie, Yen Tan’s Pit Stop and Laurence Anyways on Monday, and the David Sedaris comedy C.O.G. and the gay doc God Loves Uganda on Wednesday. Check out the full schedule here. And I’ll be blogging reviews during the fest, so come back! For music lovers, recording artist Frankie will be performing her new single three more times in Dallas this weekend, with appearances tonight at Plush at 11:30 p.m., then another an hour later at 12:30 a.m. at the Round-Up Saloon, plus another late-night performance on Saturday at 11:30 p.m. inside the Rose Room. Or you can check out gay artist Owen Pallett at the Palladium Saturday, with gay band Grizzly Bear, pictured, also on the bill.

In theater, you still have a chance to see John Michael and the Order of the Penix, a one-man performance piece at the Magnolia Lounge that’s pretty damn fearless. You also definitely need to catch Rx, the new hilarious comedy about love and other drugs courtesy of Kitchen Dog Theater. Once again, Tina Parker delivers a not-to-miss performance. And Uptown Players’ latest cross-dressing spoof, Re-Designing Women, opens for a seven-week run at the Rose Room, with author Jamie Morris in the role of Julia Sugarbaker.

The stage musical of Priscilla Queen of the Desert doesn’t open in Dallas until next month, but you can get a sneak peek of sorts. On Saturday from 2 to 3:30 p.m., Dallas Summer Musicals and the Cupcakery on McKinney Avenue team up for a taste competition with three local drag queens on hand for an event called Priscilla Queen of the Desserts. You can even win tickets to the show. And if you’re really interested in desserts on Saturday, there’s still time to attend the No Tie Dinner, a benefit for AIDS Services of Dallas, at the Frontiers of Flight Museum starting at 7 p.m.

A final option for foodies: Dishcrawl, a national movement where you get to know your culinary choices within a given neighborhood, debuts in Dallas with the Uptown Crawl on Sunday, with eight restaurants (among them, Meso Maya Uptown, Pop Diner and Momo’s) participating. Proceeds benefit the North Texas Food Bank. Tickets are $40 in advance or $45 on-site.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

DIFF announces some films in its lineup, a few with gay interest

yen TanThe Dallas International Film Festival doesn’t open for more than a month, but organizers have already announced 10 films on the slate — several with gay content.

God Loves Uganda, a hit at Sundance, addresses the anti-gay policies of the African state, including the American-based Christian activists calling for draconian penalties for those who are gay or HIV-positive.

Pit Stop is former Dallas filmmaker Yen Tan’s (pictured) crowd-sourced movie about gay love in rural Texas. We previewed the film here.

Individual tickets go on sale March 14. A complete schedule of screenings will eventually be released on its website.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

DIFF winners announced over the weekend

This weekend, the Dallas International Film Festival awarded its prizes for the best of the fest. Among the winners was Wolf, which we profiled here, about the inappropriate relationship between a minister and a young member of his church. It received a $30,000 camera rental Grand Jury Prize for the Panavision Texas Competition. Also a winner was First Position, which we reviewed here (and pictured), which took the Audience Award for Documentary Feature.

Other winners include:

• Grand Jury Prize for Narrative Feature: Faith, Love and Whiskey.

• Grand Jury Prize for Documentary Feature: Tchoupitoulas.

• Grand Jury Prize for the Whole Food Environmental Vision Competition: Dirty Energy, about the Deepwater Horizon disaster (awarded two years to the day after the spill).

• Silver Heart Award ($10,000): The Invisible War.

• Audience Award for Narrative Feature: My Way, a Korean war movie.

• Audience Award for Short Film: Nani.

• Best Short Film: Aaron Burr, Part 2.

Best Student Short: Nani.

Best Animated Short: A Morning Stroll.

Special citations were given the Michael Rainey Jr., Luv, for breakout performance; Kim Kold, Teddy Bear, the acting; David Zellner’s Kid-Thing, special mention for Texas filmmaker; and The Love Competition for short filmmaking.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

“Gayby” screens Tuesday and Wednesday at DIFF

There’s not too much gay programming at the Dallas International Film Festival, but what is featured is pretty darn gay. Case in point: Gayby, which screens tonight and tomorrow at the Angelika.

Matt (adorkable Matthew Wilkas) and Jenn (Jenn Harris) are a Will-&-Grace-like couple — straight girl, gay guy — who each want something more in life: She wants a baby (but, as a friend notes, is barren), he wants a relationship more meaningful than a Grindr hookup. It’s not three minutes in before the two decide to have a baby together — not with a turkey baster, but old-fashioned sex.

That’s the premise for the short film on which this feature is based (and which played in Dallas at OutTakes a few years back); it basically ended with them getting it on. Here, it’s more a jumping-off point for the witty, dry humor of writer-director Jonathan Lisecki.

The film screening at the Angelika April 17 at 7:15 p.m., and April 18 at 1 0 p.m. Check it out.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones