A Gay Old Time
Bullies, Bears, and Ballroom Dancers at SLGFF
Phew. It's a good thing somebody finally gave the gays their own film festival, featuring LGBTQ-focused and -created features and shorts from around the world. Because god knows, if there's one place where gays can't catch a break, it's showbiz (I kid, gays! I kid!). Like any other niche film fest, the Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival (now in its 15th year) is uneven—production values and filmmaking experience often sacrificed in the name of gayness. But unlike any other niche film festival (or mainstream film festival, for that matter), SLGFF is produced by gays, and if there's one thing gays excel at, it's FESTIVITIES. (As in parties. Go to them. Any will do.) Plus, this year's lineup looks pretty solid, too: Not a single thing in the stack of DVDs I watched this year was painfully unwatchable, and a couple were downright excellent. Here's a quick rundown:
A MARINE STORY
Rough around the edges but irresistibly topical, A Marine Story is a drama about a lady-lovin' lady marine (Dreya Weber) who, despite "don't ask, don't tell," was asked about the activities of her lady parts and then told to leave the military. She heads back to her dusty hometown, does the whole acclimate-to-civilian-life thingy, dabbles in vigilante justice, takes a sexy young meth head under her wing, and tries to figure out how to come out to her old life. The acting is shaky and there's a dumb and sensationalized evil meth-lab subplot. But Weber's pained face, flawless badassery, and negative-one-million percent body fat (she's an acrobat in real life!) are riveting in every scene. (Tues Oct 19, Egyptian, 7:30 pm)
Again, rough around the edges; again, topical. Bullied, produced by the Southern Poverty Law Center, documents the shitty, shitty life and times of Jamie Nabozny, a gay Wisconsin teenager who was bullied nearly to death. Nabozny, with the support of his righteously outraged mother, sued his school district, and the decision was a landmark moment for LGBT activists working to end anti-gay harassment in schools. The first-person interviews with Nabozny and his supporters are compelling (frustratingly, his foes do not appear), but they're supplemented by distractingly goofy reenactments. Tip for filmmakers: Reenactments are ALWAYS GOOFY. But still, with a new gay teen suicide seemingly every week, Bullied is a worthwhile way to spend an hour. Tip for bullies: STOP KILLING GAY KIDS. (Wed Oct 20,
Northwest Film Forum, Broadway Performance Hall, 6 pm)
My friend Laurel is in this (two conflicts of interest in one week, you guys! [See Concessions]), so I can't actually review it. But Variety says: "Family drama, gay-consciousness themes, and dance-contest movie tropes all do-se-do together in curious harmony. Expertly shot, energetically choreographed numbers boast a lightness of touch miles away from the freneticism of Baz Luhrmann, while the tyro thesps' unaffected performances add a note of sweetness to pic's atmosphere of guileless simplicity." That's not even English (Variety, you CRAZY), but anything that keeps me miles away from Baz Luhrmann is a winner. Also, dancing lesbians! (Wed Oct 20, Egyptian, 7:30 pm)
Now, I fancy myself a person who knows a thing or two about gay stuff, but it turns out there is so much to learn! For example, did you know that shaven twinky gays will judge other twinky gays if they "come out" as liking hairy bear-type gays? "It's one thing saying you think Brad Pitt is hot," explains one character in BearCity. "But try saying you want a mouthful of John Goodman." Also, did you know that gays will sometimes wave their metal urethra-kebab sticks around right in the middle of the coffee shop? It happens in this movie! Double also, did you know that if you weigh 400 pounds and have a super-hot boyfriend and then tell him you want to get lap-band surgery (because you are literally too sweaty to get a job—actual story line!), he will dump you because then you will not be gordo enough anymore? All true. BearCity bills itself as "like Sex and the City, but with bears!" And it is, except with one other notable difference: Sex and the City is terrible, and BearCity is A DELIGHT. Sure, it's a pack of hairy stereotypes running around humping each other in bathrooms, but the characters are charming and the rom-com formula is satisfying and the queeny snark is legitimately funny. Plus, education is priceless! (Fri Oct 15, Egyptian, 7:30 pm)
Find the full lineup (there's tons more!) at www.threedollarbillcinema.org.
This story has been updated since its original publication.