Queer documentary screening to benefit AIN

Rainbows End, a Texas-set documentary about three Texans on a quest to cross the country for the promised land of Los Angeles, got its local debut at the Dallas International Film Festival last March. Among the quirky stars of the show was Audrey Dean Leighton, a rainbow-wearing Nocogdochan with the mission to take lessons on the Internet at the Gay and Lesbian Center.

If you missed it then, you get a chance to correct that later this month. On July 23 and 24, the newly restored (and gay-friendly) Texas Theatre in Oak Cliff will host screenings of the film. The showings, at 5 p.m. every day, will include live music from Country Willie, and proceeds will benefit the AIDS Interfaith Network.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Gay filmmakers need help funding films

Ash Christian, the Texas-bred filmmaker who recently debuted his latest underground comedy, Mangus!, at the Dallas International Film Festival, could use your help. His third film as a director is already in the can, but he has one as a producer that still needs help getting off the ground. Continental is a documentary about New York’s Continental Baths, the gay bathhouse where Better Midler and Barry Manilow got their starts. (You can see a video of Bette performing there in 1971 by clicking here.) The film is being directed by documentarian Malcolm Ingram, whom we have also written about.

“We are raising our modest production budget for the documentary via Kickstarter and private equity and I genuinely believe this is an important story to be told while the players are still alive and wanting to talk.” Christian says. “It is very important that we reach our goal in a timely fashion or we don’t get any of the funds already donated.” He’d also accept a bigger private equity investment from someone with the bucks, but even a $10 donation would be appreciated.

You can donate by clicking here.

Ash isn’t the only filmmaker trying to raise money this way for a documentary. Quentin Lee, whose charming romantic comedy The People I’ve Slept With played at the Asian Film Festival of Dallas last year, is trying to raise $3,800 to complete his documentary short,  A Woman Called Canyon Sam, about America’s first Asian American lesbian activist. He’s also using Kickstart to get the money flowing.

You can see the trailer below, or donate by going here.

A Woman Named Canyon Sam Kickstarter Campaign from People Pictures on Vimeo.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Pink Noise: The Dallas Voice Podcast

 

In this week’s episode, Rich Lopez and I discussed the Dallas County Commissioners Court’s addition of sexual orientation but not gender identity to the county’s nondiscrimination policy, Stonewall Democrats’ endorsement of James Nowlin over Angela Hunt, Dan Savage’s upcoming appearance in Dallas, the Dallas International Film Festival, Bill Maher and more.

—  John Wright

WATCH: ‘One on One,’ a gay short film written and produced at the University of Texas at Dallas

Although this is the first I’ve heard of it, One on One was originally posted to YouTube (where it has more than 7,000 views) in May 2010 and has reportedly been making the rounds on Facebook ever since. One on One was written and directed by UTD student Luis Fernando Midence, and according to YouTube, it’s been screened at numerous LGBT film festivals. “A story about compromise, One On One follows Alex and Trevor as they work out their relationship on and off the basketball court, after one of them asks the other one to join a waltz class together.”

—  John Wright

Q Cinema and the Lone Star Film Society make a nice pairing this month with screenings

It’s going to be a super team-up tomorrow in Cowtown. Q Cinema partners with Samaritan House and the Lone Star Film Society to screen ‘And the Band Played On,’ the landmark HBO film that chronicled the early history of AIDS in the U.S. The screening is free and starts at 7 p.m. with a reception before at 6 p.m.

Dennis Bishop will be on hand for a Q & A after the film. He is the director of the Lone Star Film Society but interestingly enough he was the VP of production at HBO during the film’ airing in 1993. It will also be introduced by Bob Ray Sanders. Visit here for details.

Q Cinema teams with LSFS again for the upcoming Lone Star International Film Festival. They host the screening of Tierra Madre depicting the true story of Aidee Gonzalez who struggles to keep her children and female partner above water. The film in in Spanish and scheduled for Nov. 14.

For a detailed list of films from the festival that runs Nov. 10 –14, click here.

Tierra madre from Dylan Verrechia on Vimeo.

—  Rich Lopez

Making use of a chance to educate

Instead of working to block controversial film, TENT wants to put transgender issues on the front burner at Austin film fest by sponsoring discussion of movie

Recently, Transgender Education Network of Texas has made a very difficult decision. We have been following  the controversy surrounding the film, “Ticked-Off Trannies With Knives.” We have been discussing the issue with Austin Gay and Lesbian International Film Festival (AGLIFF) and both organizations believe that there needs to be dialog surrounding the film.

To that end, AGLIFF will bring the film to their well-attended festival in the fall, and TENT will facilitate a discussion afterward. This was not a decision we made lightly and we want to take a moment and clarify our position.

Many trans activists, as well as GLAAD, have been very vocal critics of this film and the “negative portrayal of trans people in it.”

The majority of our board has screened this film and, though many of us don’t think the film the greatest piece of celluloid art out there, we all pretty much agree that on its surface, it doesn’t portray trans folk too negatively.

Quite to the contrary, it shows drag queens (part of the trans community) fighting back against people who want to hurt them (and are very successful … at least physically).

I’d like to lay all of our cards on the table here. Originally, we were looking at this film to use as a fundraiser for TENT. After all, with all the controversy and shouting, it was bound to be a money-maker.

And we felt strongly that we needed to have a conversation around what was really making us angry; as an organization whose mission is to educate folks about the gender diverse, we felt an obligation to facilitate a conversation.

But after our second viewing and subsequent discussion, it became clear to many of us that using this film as a fundraiser would be adding more fuel to an already over-stoked fire.

We also felt that doing nothing was not an option either. You know, if folks didn’t raise a fuss about this film it may not have even made a ripple in our community.

As a matter of fact the controversy, arguments and protests have done more to pique the interest of viewers than any standard marketing that La Luna Entertainment had planned to do.

So, it is out there; we can’t do anything about that. So we feel it is necessary to talk about it.

We also feel that to have an intelligent discussion about the film, it is necessary to actually see it. Many of the protesters have not seen it and don’t plan to for fear of giving the appearance of condoning the film. We hope they change their minds when it comes to Austin.

Let’s take a moment to talk about what the critics are saying.

One of the biggest issues early on was the use of the murders of Angie Zapata and Jorge Mercado in the trailers marketing the film.

The film gives a nod to the “blacksploitation” films of the 1960s and is graphically violent, shot in high contrast and is very campy. The protesters (rightly, in my opinion) strongly objected to the use of the two very real and very tragic murders in the marketing of this admittedly violent and campy film.

The filmmaker listened to the critics and quickly removed those quotes. I didn’t see that trailer (it had already been pulled) and when I spoke to Israel Luna, the maker of the film, I said to him that had I seen the original trailer, I would probably be equally as offended.

I asked him if he understood that and he answered, “Yes, and that is why I removed those references.”

Although they have been removed from the trailer, this is still an issue that the critics hold on to as a reason to protest.

The other reason that the protesters and GLAAD would like to see the film banned is because “… it demeans actual transgender women who struggle for acceptance and respect in their day-to-day lives.”

We’re not so sure we agree with this statement.  Whereas drag queens are not indicative of all or even most of the gender diverse community, they are a part of the community and, I for one, am proud to stand side by side with them.

After all, it was the drag queens that hurled the first bottles to start the protest at Stonewall, a protest that launched a movement.
Now drag queens, by definition, are usually caricatures of women. We all know what it means to wear “drag queen” make-up, and few women wear the exaggerated make-up and clothing on the street in their day-to-day lives.

But that is the nature of being a drag queen; they are performers wearing a costume. And guess what?  They exist in real life. I know quite a few and are honored to call them friends.

In my opinion, the drag queens characterized in the film are pretty darn accurate. For the most part, I liked these characters. They were real!  Yes, I said it: Real.

Finally, there are a couple of criticisms that I may agree with. The first is the title.

I don’t condone the use of the “T” word; I don’t use the “T” word, and I advocate that no one use it.

The other criticism that has a bit of credence is the speed in which the film goes from a relatively realistic portrayal of horrendous violence perpetrated against these trans women to a “check your brains at the door” campiness. I have some real problems with that and would have a few suggestions for Mr. Luna for a re-edit if he wants to hear them.

But, all of those things aside, it is time to watch the film and talk about it.

It is for that reason that we are not blocking AGLIFF from bringing it to the film festival. In interest of full disclosure, we were given the opportunity to block it; if TENT said “no,” AGLIFF would not have brought it in.

But we feel strongly that this controversial film can open a dialog that can do a lot of good. So we said, bring it in and let us sponsor the discussion after. We hope to have the filmmaker, the critics, the supporters, and GLAAD all participate in this important discussion.

Lisa Scheps is executive director of Transgender Education Network of Texas, based in Austin. The talk-back will be held immediately after the screening of the film on Friday, Sept. 10 at 9:45 p.m. at the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar. Everyone is welcome to attend.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 27, 2010

—  Kevin Thomas

Dallas activist’s National Equality March documentary to premiere at Austin gay film fest

Lesbian Dallas activist Laura McFerrin sends along word that the long-awaited premiere of her directing debut, “March On,” will take place during the Austin Gay & Lesbian International Film Festival in September. The full-length trailer is above. From McFerrin’s press release:

March On documents the 2009 National Equality March through the lives of five families who put aside their daily routine, packed up their hopes and went to Washington DC to demonstrate that they believe in Equality. Along with footage from past marches, interviews and powerful speakers, March On takes you to this fantastic and historic event. In addition, March On includes Lt. Dan Choi, Lady Gaga, Cleve Jones, Cynthia Nixon, Stacyann Chin and Michelle Clunie.

McFerrin says she will attend the premiere along with some of the men and women featured in the documentary. The showing will be at noon Sept. 12 at the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar, 1120 South Lamar Blvd. in Austin. Also featured at AGLIFF will be Dallas filmmaker Israel Luna’s “Ticked-Off Trannies with Knives.”

—  John Wright