Thursday, March 11, 2010

Reverend's Previews: Cruz’n through Fusion 2010

Though it has grown in popularity over the years and now runs for ten days each July, the Outfest Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Film Festival still can’t come close to showing every GLBT film produced each year around the world. Thankfully, we have Fusion: The Los Angeles LGBT People of Color Film Festival to supplement Outfest and provide a unique showcase of the diversity within our own community. Fusion 2010 starts today and runs through March 13.

Wilson Cruz, the prolific stage, film and television actor, will be the recipient of the 2010 Fusion Achievement Award. Cruz made television history in the 1990’s as an openly gay teenager on the acclaimed My So-Called Life. He also played the HIV+ transvestite, Angel, in Rent on Broadway.

The Latino actor’s other credits include TV’s ER, The West Wing, Noah’s Arc and Rick & Steve, the Happiest Gay Couple in All the World, as well as the feature films Nixon, All Over Me, Party Monster, Coffee Date, Bam Bam and Celeste, Supernova and He’s Just Not That Into You.

Cruz will also co-star in this year’s Fusion Gala film, The People I’ve Slept With. This delightful new comedy by acclaimed gay director Quentin Lee (Drift, Ethan Mao) focuses on Angela (Karin Anna Cheung), a sex-loving woman who discovers she is unexpectedly pregnant and isn’t quite sure who the father is. In Angela’s quest to find the mystery dad, everybody has advice: her gay best friend (played by Cruz), her conservative sister (Lynn Chen), and a handsome conquest (the very attractive Archie Kao).

Also of note in the cast of The People I’ve Slept With is veteran actor James Shigeta (who has appeared in everything from Flower Drum Song to Die Hard to Mulan) as Angela’s fitness-obsessed father and the very funny Randall Park, who nearly steals the show as “Nice but Boring Guy,” one of her baby’s prospective fathers. Well-written by Koji Steven Sakai, this accomplished film is a must-see for both men and women.

According to the Fusion press release announcing Cruz as the recipient of this year’s award, “Through his activism and art, Cruz is a role model of courage and honesty who inspires those within and outside the GLBT community.” Cruz has been especially devoted to the support and encouragement of GLBT youth. The Fusion Achievement Award will be presented to Cruz during the opening remarks of the Fusion Gala this Saturday night.

The traditional “Legacy Screening” at Fusion this year will be of 1967’s Portrait of Jason. The movie is noteworthy for being filmed in one wild night at New York’s Chelsea Hotel. Considered a landmark of non-fiction film, Portrait of Jason is the raw record of a confessional conversation with an African-American gay hustler recounting his life and times. The documentary’s director,Shirley Clarke, was a key figure in the American avant-garde and has been an influence on filmmakers and video artists over the last 40 years. It will be shown on Saturday.

Also being presented on Saturday will be the Fusion Shorts Programs. These series of GLBT short films will include the striking Boy Meets Boy, by director Kim-Jho Gwang-soo, as well as stories about transgender youth, a sexually conflicted jazz musician and a butch girl with a crush on a married woman. This year’s movies hail from the US, Wales, various parts of Asia and other countries.

Fusion screenings, parties and related events will take place at various locations throughout Hollywood. For more information about Fusion and to buy tickets, please visit the fest's official website.

Preview by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and the Orange County and Long Beach Blade.

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