Although it is located a good 30 miles from the glitz and glamor of Hollywood, the Filmmakers’ Gallery of Long Beach is rapidly becoming known within the movie industry. The intimate screening room is located at 2238 E. Broadway, just down from Hot Java and other popular LGBTQ establishments. It recently hosted local premieres of the Jennifer Aniston-starring Cake (written by out Long Beach resident Patrick Tobin) and the award-winning trans hit Tangerine, among others.
This month, founders/curators Paul Belsito and Steven Roche will debut the Rainbow Reel Pride Party during Long Beach Pride weekend. This LGBTQ-themed short film festival, amusingly subtitled "Do These SHORTS Make Me Look Gay?," takes place on Saturday, May 21st from 2:00 pm-7:00 pm. Doors will open at 1:30 pm.
The Filmmakers’ Gallery will mark its 4th anniversary this June. “We are pleased with it and keep striving to make it better,” Belsito said during a recent phone interview with him and Roche, who are also married. “Our goal and mission is to spotlight other artists and educate Long Beach about the city’s filmmaking history.” Indeed, Charlie Chaplin and other notables had studio space in the seaside community south of LA way back in the silent film era.
Rainbow Reel Pride Party will spotlight current LGBTQ webseries episodes and independent short films. Several of their producers and actors will be in attendance. A yet-to-be-announced feature film will also be screened. The general admission charge of $20 ($15 for Gallery members) includes rainbow-themed cocktails served with Skittles and Mike & Ike’s candies, hot appetizers, decadent desserts and, of course, popcorn.
“We presented a month of Pride-related films last year but not during Pride weekend itself because it’s just too crazy,” Belsito remarked. The weekend draws tens of thousands of people to Long Beach between the annual festival, parade and related events. The Filmmakers’ Gallery is just a few short blocks from Sunday’s parade route.
Belsito and Roche are successful filmmakers themselves, having produced the anti-bullying documentary Teach Your Children Well, narrated by Lily Tomlin, and the popular webseries Child of the 70’s. Asked if they prefer to be known as documentarians, Belsito replied “we are filmmakers in general; we don’t want to pigeonhole ourselves.” The pair is currently developing a new webseries that will star MADtv’s hilarious Debra Wilson and David Mandel-Bloch, better known as young warlock Adam Stephens on TV’s Bewitched back in the 1970’s.
In addition to serving as a screening room, the Filmmakers’ Gallery will also present a professional acting class starting May 10th as well as a documentary filmmaking seminar. Information about all their upcoming events can be found online at their website or the Filmmakers’ Gallery Facebook page.
The Rainbow Reel Pride Party schedule is as follows:
- 2:00-3:30pm: My Sister is So Gay screening and Q&A with the cast & crew.
- 3:30-4:30pm: Daddy Hunt: The Serial screening and Q&A with the cast via Skype.
- 4:30-5:15pm: Keeping Up with Ralph, Coming Out... To My Wife, My Coming Out Song - Gay Gay, Dating in LA and Casting in L.A. screenings and Q&A via Skype with Ralph Mayer.
- 5:15pm: Surprise LGBT Feature Film with special guests signing autographs for an additional $20 per personally addressed photo.
As if all these weren’t enough to feature during Pride month, the Filmmakers’ Gallery will also be screening the 1980 camp classic Can’t Stop the Music, starring the Village People and Bruce Jenner (pre-Caitlyn), on Saturday, May 14th and a “Divine Intervention” tribute to drag actor Divine on Sunday, May 15th. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Pride cinematically.
Preview by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film and stage critic of Movie Dearest and Rage Monthly Magazine.