Monday, August 2, 2010

Reverend's Reviews: For the Bis

With the Outfest Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Film Festival just concluding one of its best events in recent years, it was nonetheless clear yet again that the "B" in GLBT too often gets short shrift. This isn't festival programmers' faults since few bisexual-themed films are currently being made, according to a panelist who spoke after the North American premiere of Bisexual Revolution at Outfest on July 10.

The French-made documentary (which is subtitled, in English, Bisexuality: Is It An Art?) is the best cinematic exploration of the subject to date, which isn't hard to conclude when last year's woeful Bi the Way is seemingly the genre's high point. Filmmakers Eric Wastiaux and Laure Michel interviewed bisexual men and women around the world and compiled the insights gained for Bisexual Revolution. The result was shown last year on French television and reportedly ignited overnight a national discussion and a resultant, increased acceptance of bisexuality there.

Wastiaux and Michel, who also participated in the post-screening discussion, confessed to being dubious of bisexuality prior to filming. Both came away believers, and Wastiaux even engaged in his first same-sex experience. The doc takes a broad approach to understanding bisexuality, with Dr. Alfred Kinsey's famed scale of sexuality a particularly helpful resource. Kinsey's research in the 1950's revealed that the vast majority of human beings are neither 100% heterosexual nor 100% homosexual. Rather, we fall along various points of sexual orientation depending on our life experiences, attractions and values. The concept and practice of human sexuality emerged as much more fluid than conservative politicians and religious leaders would have us believe.


Bisexual Revolution makes this 50-year old finding abundantly clear. People of various genders, nationalities, ethnicities and ages discuss their bisexuality on camera with wisdom and honesty. Among the interviewees are American filmmaker John Cameron Mitchell (of Shortbus and Hedwig and the Angry Inch fame), French pop star Yelle, and numerous prominent writers, artists and educators.

At a concise 61 minutes, the film provides a great overview while hardly presuming to be the last word on the topic. Indeed, it serves as a great conversation-starter as evidenced by the French broadcast's aftermath and the post-screening discussion at Outfest. Audience members didn't shy from revealing their own, less-than-100%-gay-or-lesbian experiences. One transgender viewer commented about how even more complex sexuality is from her perspective!

It is unfortunate that bisexuality remains an often confounding and even taboo subject in straight, gay and lesbian circles alike. Bisexual Revolution can only help to de-stigmatize it, thanks to the film's declaration of the great truth that human beings and sexuality are too intricate to be categorized or labeled.

Watch the trailer for Bisexual Revolution here.

Reverend's Rating: B+

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

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