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

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

Yen Tan raised all the funds (and more) for gay film

Well this is gratifying. Earlier this week, I blogged that Yen Tan still needed about $1,500 in order to reach the $22,000 he hoped to raise for his gay, Texas-set feature Pit Stop. If he didn’t raise it within about two weeks, he got none of it.

Well, as of right now, he’s raised almost $28,000 — that’s a remarkably fast influx and well above what he sought. You can still give and get a screen credit, etc., by clicking here. You have 11 more days.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Yen Tan’s gay movie nears funding goal, needs last-minute infusion

This summer, I wrote about Texas filmmaker Yen Tan’s latest feature film, which like his last, is Texas-set and gay-themed. Pit Stop is about a romance between rural gays (one Latino, one Anglo) who begin a relationship, and how it affects and is affected by their small-town lives. Tan was tagged for a fundraising campaign similar to Kickstarter.com called UnitedStatesArtists.org, which helps filmmakers and other artists get the money they need to make their dream a reality. In Tan’s case, the goal was $22,000. So far, he’s accured $20,600 — that’s 94 percent.

It is not, however, enough — and this is a question of winner-takes-all. If Tan doesn’t hit the $22K figure within the next 13 days, he gets none of it. That’s a pretty important $1,400.

Pledges as low as one dollar count, and there are perks depending on what you pledge, from an on-screen credit to a walk-on role. If you go here, you can pledge directly. You have some time, but why taunt fate? And on-screen credit is pretty cool, actually.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

New routes means higher visibility for 2011 LSRFA

Even though Event Manager Jerry Calumn was told routing riders through Dallas and Fort Worth wasn’t possible, he refused to take ‘can’t’ for an answer

Calumn.Jerry
Jerry Calumn

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

When he took over as the new event manager of Lone Star RideFighting AIDS, Jerry Calumn started hearing about a number of things he “couldn’t do.”

For instance, LSRFA cyclists said they wanted people to come out and cheer them on. But the route the last few years has been mostly rural, and getting groups out was something Calumn “couldn’t do,” he was told.

Riders told him they wanted to ride where people would see them.

“Riders felt disconnected from the cities we serve,” Rider Retention

Co-Chair Michael Wilkesen said.

But changing the route was something Calumn was told he “couldn’t do,” because permits and other obstacles would make it too expensive and logistics would make it too hard.

But Calumn wasn’t willing to settle for “couldn’t do.” So through the summer, he worked quietly with Wilkesen, mapping out a new route and making plans to get people out to cheer on the riders.

The ride begins and ends again this year at the American Airlines

Training and Conference Center in North Arlington, as it has for the past few years. The difference this year is that instead of making loops northwest of the center on Saturday and southeast on Sunday through suburban and rural terrain, this year’s routes move through Fort Worth on Saturday and Dallas on Sunday.

“And you know what it cost us?” Calumn said. “Nothing. Not one damn penny.”

Calumn encouraged the community to come and cheer for riders and suggested some of the best times and places to do that.

The routes

Pit stops and lunch stops for the riders are great places for supporters to gather and cheer them on.

On Saturday, Sept. 24, Pit Stop 2 will be at the Rainbow Lounge in Fort Worth. Riders are expected through there between 8:30 a.m. and 11 a.m.
Pit 3 is the lunch stop. That takes place at the Pour House on 7th Street between downtown Fort Worth and the Cultural District. Riders attempting the 100-mile “century” route to Eagle Mountain Lake must leave lunch by 11:30 a.m. Other riders may linger here until 2:30 p.m.

One of the highlights of the Fort Worth route will be 22 miles along the Trinity Trail. That scenic system of trails follows the Trinity River as it winds through the city. Riders will pick up the trail near Texas Christian University after the Rainbow Lounge pit stop, detour off the trail for about a mile for the lunch stop and then pick it back up for the ride around the Fort Worth Stockyards.

Wilkesen said that unfortunately the ride cannot go through the Stockyards because of the bike-unfriendly cobblestones in the area.

Day 2 takes riders through Irving to Dallas, then back to the American Airlines training center for closing ceremonies.

The first stop is the new Irving Convention Center.

“It’s an architectural gem sitting in the middle of Las Colinas,” Calumn said.

He said that Irving was excited about the ride coming through the city and was very helpful. Riders travel through Irving both in the morning and afternoon.

A highlight of the Sunday route will be riding through Oak Lawn. This will be the first time the ride has traveled down Cedar Springs Road.

Pit Stop 2 will be at Station 4. Most bike riders will pass Cathedral of Hope between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. The church promised a cheering section as riders pass.

From there the route turns north on Turtle Creek Boulevard and crosses Highland Park before heading north to Webb Chapel Park.

The ride through Irving will be on the Campion Trail. “Irving invested well in its park system and it shows,” Calumn said.

He called the highlight of the afternoon the stop in North Lake Ranch Park, located on one of the highest points in north Dallas County and with a panoramic view of the area. Of course, for riders, that’s a mixed blessing: To get to the highest point means riding up hill. And the uphill ride comes in the afternoon after they have already pedalled more than 40 miles.

But once there, the ride back to base camp for closing ceremonies is mostly down hill.

Both Calumn and Wilkeson said they believe that the higher visibility of the routes this year will help with organizers’ ongoing efforts to grow the ride.

“With more visibility, we’ll get more riders,” Wilkesen said.

In a battle of Dallas vs. Fort Worth, Wilkesen suggested Irving wins as the city most aggressively interested in bringing the ride through town. He said the city even mapped a safe and scenic route for him, saving him a lot of time.

Calumn said Fort Worth has the most sophisticated plan to host groups like this. In Dallas he met with police, parks and events separately. He complimented each department for its cooperation.

But, he said, Fort Worth held one meeting with him that also included the health department.

“That way, police can talk to streets,” he said. “It’s very helpful.”

Closing ceremonies take place at the AATCC at 5 p.m. The Riderless Bike leads the procession as riders return and complete a year of fundraising that is expected to bring the total raised in event history to more than $2 million.

Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS closing ceremonies, American Airlines Training and Conference Center, 4501 Highway 360 South, Fort Worth (just south of DFW Airport). 5 p.m. Everyone welcome.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 23, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

LSRFA announces new route

Poz Pedalers will lead the LSR parade entry and wheel the riderless bike down Cedar Springs Road

Calumn.Jerry
Jerry Calumn

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Just a week before the Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS, Event Manager Jerry Calumn has revealed the new route for the ride.

Rather than travel though country roads making a loop to the north and west of the American Airlines Training and Conference Center on Saturday, and a loop to the south and east on Sunday, this year’s ride will travel through the Metroplex’s largest cities.

Riders on Saturday will make a loop through Fort Worth, including a pit stop at the Rainbow Lounge and one downtown at The Pour House on 7th Street.

The Sunday route will include a pass by Cathedral of Hope and then travel down Cedar Springs Road for the first time in the ride’s history.

Cathedral of Hope is planning a cheering section. A pit stop is scheduled along the route at Station 4.

The fastest riders should make it to Cedar Springs Road by 9 a.m. while slower pedallers will follow until about 11 a.m.

Calumn said that while last year’s route was scenic, riders wanted to interact with people along the way. With the mostly rural routes followed in recent years, that hasn’t happened.

At first, Calumn said, he thought the ride might stop by the Mustangs in Las Colinas. But another event was scheduled for the square that houses the statue. Instead, the city of Irving arranged for a stop at the new Irving Convention Center.

“Irving really wanted us,” Calumn said. “We’re thrilled to be stopping at the newest, greatest architecture in Irving.”

On Thursday, Sept. 15, Lone Star Ride held a pre-ride event at S4 to recognize those who had excelled in their fundraising.

In bicycling races, yellow is the color traditionally worn by the race leader. To recognize the top fundraisers, 45 yellow polos were awarded for those who had raised more than $1,000, and 27 yellow jerseys given to those who had collected more than $2,000.

This week, the ride topped the $2 million mark in collective fundraising over its 11 years. The money will be distributed to beneficiaries AIDS Outreach Center, AIDS Services Dallas and Resource Center Dallas.

Chance Browning is the participant fundraising chair of the LSRFA Council and has been working to find ways to help riders meet their fundraising goals.

He said he has been spending the past few weeks calling riders to give them fundraising suggestions, often recommending “a multi-pronged approach.”

Browning suggested riders send emails to friends, family and business associates, with links to the LSRFA website. The website provides a fundraising badge for riders to post on Facebook that links back to the rider’s page where donations can be made.

Also, Browning suggested, “Check your company to see if they offer matching funds.”

He said holding fundraising parties works for some people. But he said riders need to keep talking to people and asking for the money.

Browning said he rode for two years, but helping other people raise their money was his way of contributing this year.

In 2010, Dean Wilson was the development director for LSR and now is development associate for Resource Center Dallas. He said he’d be at the ride representing RCD, one of the beneficiaries. He’ll also be cheering on his partner.

“Last year was my partner’s first ride,” Wilson said. “We both had such an amazing time, we can’t wait til this year.”

To begin the final countdown to the 2011 LSRFA, a number of  ride participants will walk down Cedar Springs in the Pride parade on Sunday, Sept. 18. The Poz Pedalers — the team of HIV-positive riders and their supporters — will lead the group, walking the riderless bike, which memorializes those lost to AIDS, down the parade route.

Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS takes place on Sept. 24 and 25. Riders will stay at the American Airlines Training and Conference Center in Arlington on Friday and Saturday nights. Sunday late afternoon closing ceremonies, which will include a performance by the Turtle Creek Chorale, will take place there at the training and conference center.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 16, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Dallas Pride: OutTakes Dallas movie event tonight at Texas Theatre

Make a Pit Stop in Oak Cliff

As you might have read, queer filmmaker Yen Tan is hard at work on his next project Pit Stop. After the success of his film Ciao, Tan focuses again on the community with his latest film about two men who find romance in each other in a small Texas town. The film is still in the works but he gives a sort of preview tonight with staged readings from the script as well as showing clips from Ciao. He teams with OutTakes Dallas for tonight’s movie launch event in Oak Cliff. The night will also feature a conversation with Tan and producer Eric Steele.

This is an official Dallas Pride 2011 event.

DEETS: Texas Theatre, 231 W. Jefferson St. 7:30 p.m. Free. OutTakesDallas.com.

—  Rich Lopez

Project pinklight

For his upcoming ‘Pit Stop,’ Texas filmmaker Yen Tan tackles another gay romance

screen-1
THE BUSINESS OF SHOW Yen Tan hopes to raise money for a spring start date to shoot ‘Pit Stop,’ about small town gay life in Texas. (Arnold Wayne Jones/ Dallas Voice)

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor
jones@dallasvoice.com

Writing coaches often tell authors, “Write what you know.” But for Yen Tan, the more interesting assignment is, “Write what you can’t get out of your head.”
Back in 2004 — when he was still living in Dallas, Tan wrote a draft screenplay called Pit Stop, about two gay men in small-town Texas who begin a romance. It wasn’t anything he knew about from personal experience.

“It’s hard to pinpoint what drew me to the story,” he says. “I have a tendency to pick up on things that don’t register with others. Being gay and middle class in small-town America is very foreign to me — it’s odd there are gay people who choose to live in small towns. What’s the decision behind that?”

He liked the script, but he couldn’t seem to get it off the ground financially or creatively. Instead, he made Ciao, which became his biggest hit as a filmmaker (it scored an honorable mention at the AFI Dallas International Film Festival in 2008). But Pit Stop drifted around in the back of his head until 2009, when he submitted it to the OutFest L.A. screenwriting lab.

“Hearing the comments by other filmmakers, I knew I had something and had underestimated its potential,” he says. Tan immediately started in on rewrites, including making the cast more diversified.

“The big change in the script is that two major characters are Latino now. It was all-white originally, but that was not entirely accurate of the Texas landscape,” Tan says. He also consulted with colleagues to make sure he got the feel of Podunk, Texas right.

“Thankfully I’m a bit paranoid about those things,” he laughs. “I would verify and re-verify [what I wrote about small-town Texas and gay Latinos]. I’d ask my friends who know, ‘Is this right or just totally made up?’ And I usually rely on my actors to put it right — is this what an American would say or is it totally ESL [English as a Second Language]? But I am also trying to make these elements work within the framework of my ideas.”

The issue now isn’t the script — it’s getting the film made. He hopes to begin filming in the spring, either around Austin or in the DFW area, but needs to raise money first. Tan was lucky enough to snag a grant targeted to Texas filmmakers, but he also wants to raise money from individual investors. That’s why this week, he’s teaming with OutTakes Dallas and the Texas Theatre to showcase his movie and allow people to contribute via United States Artists, a high-prestige donation site that allows people to make tax-deductible contributions and comes with matching grants.

“We’ll be showing clips from Ciao and do a staged reading of some scenes from Pit Stop,” he explains. “We’re also trying to set up Internet stations so people can donate on the spot. But to me it’s not about raising all the money at one time — just to kick it off.” He’s still trying to set up his goals for the fundraising, but Tan estimates something less than $20,000 would make a huge difference. In fact, he’s learned how to do more with less ever since moving to Austin last year.

“People are doing stuff with very little resources there — they just make do. You kinda have to put less emphasis on monetary stuff because someone right next to you is doing the same for $10.”

He’s looking forward to finally getting the cameras rolling.

“After making films all these years, the most gratifying part is production itself,” he says.” Once a film is finished and you’re going to the festivals… it’s fun but it gets old quickly. I know enough by now that that’s really the part that makes me not want to make another film.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 9, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

LSR Journal: Because it’s fun to help others

Jacob Comer
Jacob Comer

By Jacob Comer Team Dallas Voice

My name is Jacob. I am 11 years old, and I just started sixth grade. This year, I am working on the Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS pit stop crew with my mom, Sandra.

I like to ride my bike. Last year, when I was in fifth grade and the school I went to was closer to my house, I would ride my bike to school.
One day, I want to be a rider in Lone Star Ride. But that will have to wait until I am older and can ride farther.

Last year, my mom was riding her bike in Lone Star Ride. But she had a wreck and hurt her hand.

When she came home and I saw that her hand was hurt, I was upset, and I said I didn’t want her to ride any more. But then she told me why she was riding.

She told me that the reason for Lone Star Ride is to raise money for people who have a disease called AIDS. She said that AIDS makes you really feel bad and you have to take lots of medicine all the time.

She also said that the medicines cost lots of money and it is hard for people to pay for the medicines they need, especially because AIDS makes people so sick that sometimes they can’t work to make money.

So people who have AIDS sometimes can’t pay for food or for a place to live. It made me very sad to think of that.
Mom told me that Lone Star Ride raises money to help people with AIDS get their medicine and have somewhere to live and food to eat.

So when she said she was going to volunteer again this year, I told her I wanted to volunteer, too. I want to do something to help people who are already sick, and I want to help other people keep from getting AIDS.

One time this summer, Mom and I went to one of the Lone Star Ride training rides. We rode in our car to make sure that the people on their bikes were OK.

If someone started feeling bad or got too tired to ride any more, we picked them up and drove them back to the finish line.

It was so much fun. I love to work with my family and people that I know, and I love to meet new people and make new friends. Lone Star Ride is a great way to do that.

It was so much fun to go by the people on their bikes and cheer for them and wave to them.

It is fun to help people.

Why don’t you come and ride with us or volunteer for the crew so that you can have fun helping people, too?

A note from Jake’s mom: There are a lot of adults out there who either don’t see the importance of participating in Lone Star Ride or other such events, or who aren’t willing to give the time and put out the effort to be part of something that is so important.

And to know that my son, at 11 years old, is already thoughtful and kind-hearted enough to make this sort of commitment makes me very, very proud.

I know that it takes a lot of time and effort and dedication to ride a bike 150 miles over two days.

And yes, it takes time and effort and dedication to volunteer for one of the crew positions.

But that time and effort is nothing compared to the good that you can do for people living with AIDS who need your help.

Even if you can’t ride or crew, you can donate to someone who is.

So come on — join me and Jake and do your part for the Lone Star Ride and the people it serves.   

To donate to Jacob or to another LSR rider or crew member, go online to LoneStarRide.org.

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

—  Kevin Thomas