Tab Hunter, one of classic Hollywood’s golden boys, will take center stage during opening night of this year’s FilmOut. The 17th annual San Diego LGBT film festival runs May 29th-31st at the historic Observatory North Park Theatre.
The star of such memorable movies as Damn Yankees, Lust in the Dust and John Waters’ Polyester (the latter two with Divine), Hunter spent most of his career as a closeted gay man. He is now himself the subject of a revealing documentary, Tab Hunter Confidential. It will have its California premiere as this year’s opening night film. Hunter, now 83 but as handsome as ever, will be in attendance and is to be honored with FilmOut’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
“I had read his book and always thought it would make a fascinating documentary so I pitched him the idea,” director Jeffrey Schwarz told me. “Turns out Allan (Hunter’s partner) and Tab were already thinking about making a doc, and they thought I had the right sensibility for the project so they brought me on board.” Schwarz previously made such award-winning documentaries as I Am Divine and Vito.
Tab Hunter Confidential not only delves deeply into its subject’s life and career but illuminates the largely unspoken anti-gay policies of the film industry in the past. “I think (the documentary) is about the destructive nature of the closet, and how far we’ve come since the dark days of the 1950’s,” said Schwarz. “It will be eye-opening for younger audiences to learn about this period where if people found out you were gay it could literally destroy your reputation and livelihood.”
He continued: “The film is ultimately about how one can live an authentic life and journey from self-loathing to self-acceptance. Tab’s story is a conduit to explore these themes.” Schwarz’s doc paints Hunter as a truly inspiring figure. It will show at 7:30 pm on Friday, May 29th.
The screening will be followed by an opening night party at Claire de Lune’s Sunset Temple, directly across the street from the theatre. FilmOut 2015 will be bookended by the California premiere of I Am Michael on May 31st. Starring James Franco and Zachary Quinto, it tells the controversial true story of a gay activist, Michael Glatze, who strives to leave his homosexuality and boyfriend behind in his pursuit of Christianity. A closing night party will take place at West Coast Tavern.
More than 30 LGBT-themed feature films and shorts will be screened during the festival’s two days and three nights. Other standouts include the US premiere of Jess and James, a muy caliente look at two — possibly even three — young Argentinian men who fall in love, and the California premieres of "Girls Centerpiece" film In the Turn, which depicts a 10-year old transgender girl’s effort to join a roller derby team, and "Festival Spotlight" Game Face, a documentary about LGBT professional and aspiring athletes. Drown, an Australian drama centering on gay surfers, will serve as the fest’s "International Spotlight" feature.
Rage Monthly is proud to co-present Matt Riddlehoover’s Paternity Leave, the fest’s "Boys Centerpiece" film at 7:30 pm on Saturday, May 30th. In this satiric yet heartfelt comedy, a gay couple together for four years faces a historic challenge when one of them inexplicably becomes pregnant. Jacob York and Dante Cove’s Charlie David play the fathers-to-be, while hottie Chris Salvatore from the Eating Out series plays their open-minded doula, or “midwife.” It is well worth seeing and will be accompanied by two gay short films making their West Coast premieres: The Cream, from France, and the multinational co-production You. Me. Bathroom. Sex. Now.
Individual screening and event tickets range from $10.00-$25.00. For the full fest schedule and to purchase tickets or an all-access VIP pass, visit the FilmOut website.
Review by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and Rage Monthly Magazine.