Monday, June 4, 2018

Reverend's Preview: Conditions are Ideal for FilmOut 20

As summer 2018 gets underway, so does the 20th anniversary edition of FilmOut San Diego!  The annual LGBTQ film festival will run June 7th-10th at at the historic Obervatory North Park.  No fewer than 45 short and feature films will be screened during the fest's relatively brief 60 or so hours.  Many of their creators and cast members will be in attendance and participate in question and answer sessions with the audiences.

San Diego city council member Chris Ward will officially kick off the Opening Night festivities on Thursday, June 7th.  Ideal Home serves as this year's inaugural movie and its a goodie.  Ant-Man himself, Paul Rudd, and British comedian Steve Coogan are hilarious as a bickering, longtime gay couple.  Their lives are turned upside down when a 10-year old boy shows up at their door claiming to be the elder partner's grandson.  Neither man is ready to give up their extravagant lifestyle to be parents but this initially nameless kid has a thing or two to teach them about the value of family.

Ideal Home, which will be making its West Coast premiere, was written and directed by Andrew Fleming.  Fleming previously made the underrated LGBT-interest movie Threesome as well as the cult classic horror film The Craft (which FilmOut will be hosting a special screening of in October).  Its great to see him back in fine, funny form with his latest gay-themed comedy.

Four of the films to be screened during the festival incorporate local topics and/or talent.  San Diego's Gay Bar History is a KPBS-funded and community-supported documentary that will be having its world premiere.  Preceding this documentary will be two short films, Deviant and Saltwater Baptism, directed by local filmmakers.  Finally, San Diego resident Patrick Zeller is the lead actor in another world premiere, Say Yes.  Writer-director Stewart Wade (Such Good People, Tru Loved) returns to FilmOut with Say Yes, in which a young woman diagnosed with cancer tries to play matchmaker between her soon-to-be widowed husband (Zeller) and her bisexual twin brother.  Terminal illness, mortality, compassion and sexual fluidity are all touched upon in this poignant and heartfelt drama. 

Rage Magazine is once again a proud sponsor of FilmOut as well as co-presenter of a major new documentary that will be shown on Friday, June 8th.  To A More Perfect Union: United States v Windsor tells a true story of love, marriage and the fight for equality.  This West Coast premiere chronicles two unlikely heroes, octogenarian Edie Windsor and her attorney Roberta Kaplan, on their quest for justice.  Beyond the story of what became the pivotal case in the marriage equality movement and the compelling personal, legal and political stories behind it, the documentary also chronicles our continued journey as a people, as a culture, and as citizens with the promise of equal rights.

Edie Windsor met Thea Spyer in 1963.  It was a time when "it was scary to be a lesbian," according to Windsor in the film.  The couple became engaged in 1967, symbolized by a circular pin of diamonds that each wore rather than rings.  It took 40 years but Edie and Thea finally married in Canada in 2007.  Sadly, Thea died just two years later of complications from multiple sclerosis.  Edie just passed away last year at the age of 88. To A More Perfect Union rehashes some material that has been covered in previous documentaries about the fight for marriage equality but, at just over an hour long, is more streamlined and succinct.  Edie is interviewed extensively, as are Rosie O'Donnell and other lesbian celebs.  Even if Edie's story is well-known to some, this film is a worthwhile addition to the LGBT canon. UPDATE: To A More Perfect Union will be released theatrically this Friday in multiple cities. Visit the film's official website for screenings in your area.

The fest's Closing Night film, Anything, has garnered a lot of buzz for its standout lead performance by out actor Matt Bomer.  He plays Freda, the transsexual neighbor to a kind, decent straight man grieving the recent death of his wife.  The simplicity of the pair's shared loneliness and growing affection must be reconciled with the complexity of their disparate backgrounds.  As non-judgmental as its Southern-born protagonist, Anything is a deceptively quiet love story and an all too timely parable on the pressing need to bridge barriers and find common ground.  Its screening will be followed by a sure to be fabulous Closing Night party.

Speaking of fabulous, children of the 1970's and 80's shouldn't miss The Fabulous Allan Carr.  Award-winning documentary filmmaker Jeffrey Schwarz (Vito, I Am Divine, Tab Hunter Confidential) turns his attention on the over-the-top antics of Carr, the gay producer of 1978's mega hit Grease.  Despite his best efforts, he was unable to duplicate that movie's success and instead produced such flops as Grease 2 and the camp classic Can't Stop the Music.  Carr redeemed his reputation somewhat by backing the Tony Award-winning La Cage aux Folles on Broadway only to sink it again a few years later when he produced the notoriously cheesy 1989 Academy Awards show. Schwarz's doc serves as a loving reassessment of the man. UPDATE: The Fabulous Allan Carr is now available to rent or purchase on Amazon.

Obviously, the 20th annual festival has plenty to offer our community.

The full FilmOut 2018 schedule is as follows:

Thursday, June 7th
7:00 PM: Ideal Home

Friday, June 8th
1:00 PM: Al Berto (2017)
3:15 PM: Mario
5:30 PM: To A More Perfect Union: U.S. v Windsor
7:00 PM: Golden Boy
9:30 PM: Devil’s Path

Saturday, June 9th
11:00 AM: Best of LGBT Shorts - Volume 1
1:15 PM: Say Yes
5:30 PM: The Fabulous Allan Carr
9:45 PM: M/M

Sunday, June 10th
11:00 AM: Best of LGBT Shorts - Volume 2
1:15 PM: San Diego’s Gay Bar History
7:15 PM: Anything (2017)

For additional festival info and to purchase tickets or passes, visit the FilmOut website.

Review by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film and stage critic of Movie Dearest and Rage Monthly Magazine.