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NewFest, NYC's Premier LGBT Film Festival, Opens: VIDEO

Thecircle

The Film Society of Lincoln Center and OutFest combine forces this week to bring you NewFest, New York City's largest LGBT film festival.

NewFestFrom July 24th thru July 29th, NewFest will screen a series of wonderfully-curated narrative, documentary, and short films from a diverse array of directors. Nathaniel Rogers recently reviewed Futuro Beach and Gerontophilia, the opening and closing night selections, but there are many others to see in between.

Sure bets (based on other film fest's awards, including LA's OutFest) include: The Circle, a documentary about the Swiss underground gay movement post-WWII, Lilting, about a boyfriend and mother grieving the same death on very different terms, and The Way He Looks, a coming-of-age narrative about a blind teenager's affections for a new friend. 

Head over to the Film Society of Lincoln Center site to purchase tickets, and check out a trailer for the festival, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Openly Gay Former NFL Player David Kopay Remembers His Scandalous Coming Out, Celebrates Michael Sam: VIDEO

DavidKopay

In 1975, David Kopay became the first NFL player, current or former, to come out publicly in the Washington Star. It was a stunning moment for sports, and he later revealed even more--including a one night stand with former Redskin player Jerry Smith--in his memoir, The David Kopay Story. Now, nearly forty years later, Kopay is one of many who are welcoming Michael Sam, the first openly gay player to be drafted into the NFL, with open (but concerned) arms. 

The Hollywood Reporter recently wrote about Kopay's experience:

"I was desperate," he says. "I was totally, 'What am I going to do with my life? Can I make a difference?' " He'd hoped his tale...would encourage other pro athletes to come out. But years turned to decades and few had followed suit. Meeting Sam, the gifted defensive end who shattered the last civil rights hurdle in pro sports when he kissed his boyfriend after being drafted by the St. Louis Rams in May, came as more than just a passing thrill. It was the culmination of a life's work.

One need only consider current attitudes toward gays in sports -- when a celebratory kiss between men can result in an uproar -- to grasp just how shocking Kopay's admission was for the 1970s. And yet somehow his remarkable story has faded over the years. According to columnist Will Leitch, founding editor of Deadspin, that largely is due to Kopay being eons ahead of his time. "I think it was honestly too early," says Leitch. "It was 1975. In four years, Al Pacino would be making Cruising. People were not ready for an NFL player being gay at all."

DavidKopay2And neither were Kopay's family and friends. Married at the time, he got divorced and was excommunicated by his Catholic mother; she left him with the kind parting words, "I created you and I can kill you." Kopay moved to San Francisco, rubbing shoulders with Harvey Milk and living with Armistead Maupin, then to Los Angeles where he has lived since.

Kopay swims laps daily at nearby Occidental College, regularly hits the Rose Bowl flea market and enjoys attending NFL alumni games and serving as honorary ambassador to the Gay Games. He lives alone, his garage lined with memory boards filled with photos of debauched days spent in New Orleans. Whenever he speaks of past loves, they are invariably of the unrequited kind.

It is understandable then that Sam's decision to kiss his boyfriend after receiving his draft call would dredge up proud but conflicted emotions for Kopay.

"I was a bit unnerved," Kopay admits of watching Sam plant a passionate smooch on boyfriend Vito Cammisano, the pair later smearing cake on each other's faces. "I'm old school, you know? Certainly I felt he had a right to kiss his boyfriend and I was really glad he did. But I was not so happy with the cake in the face. It was a little bit over the top. I just worried about him like, 'Oh, what's the fuss that this is going to cause?'"

Hopefully relatively little, and Kopay seems to admit that he is of a different era. He also took the first, and perhaps bravest step of all.

"I think it was the first brick removed from the wall of homophobia," says Cyd Zeigler, the co-founder of Outsports.com. "When Kopay came out, the gay community was just beginning to find its identity. For a portion that didn't associate with the stereotypical gay identity, Dave's honesty was life-changing. I'm sure it saved lives."

Check out an interview with Kopay, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Openly Gay Former NFL Player David Kopay Remembers His Scandalous Coming Out, Celebrates Michael Sam: VIDEO" »


Line-Up For NewFest, New York's Biggest LGBT Film Festival, Announced: VIDEO

NewFestIn late June, Outfest, in partnership with the Film Society of Lincoln Center, announced the lineup for New York City's largest and most esteemed LGBT film festival, NewFest! Running from July 24th through July 29th, the nearly week-long event will consist of sixteen narrative and five documentary features.

Write the organizers:

Lesli Klainberg, Film Society of Lincoln Center's Executive Director said, “This marks the fourth year of having NewFest at the Film Society and we couldn’t be happier to continue our collaboration with Outfest. LGBT films and filmmakers are a vital part of cinema worldwide, and we are thrilled to offer this showcase on our screens each year.”

“In the year following spectacular LGBT civil rights advances across the country, the dynamic and fresh slate of 2014 NewFest films decisively demonstrates that artists and storytellers lead the charge in creating social change,” said Kristin Pepe (KP), Outfest’s Director of Programming.

NewFest's goal is to support "diverse film communities and voices from around the world," and the lineup for this year's festival has international entries from Brazil, Canada, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Israel, and several other countries, as well as films focused on the experiences of lesbian, gay, and transgender characters. 

FuturoThe opening night film, Futuro Beach, is a joint Brazilian and German production:

"When Brazilian lifeguard Donato fails to save a swimmer from drowning, he seeks out the victim’s friend Konrad, a handsome German biker. The two men begin a passionate affair, and Donato soon decides to follow Konrad to Berlin. Years later, their seemingly peaceful life is threatened by a visitor from Donato’s past. Director Karim Aïnouz...delivers a visually stunning, emotionally resonant tale about three men struggling across oceans of love, loss, and heartache."

GerontophiliaAnd the closing night slot is filled by legendary filmmaker Bruce LaBruce's Gerontophilia:

"Lake refuses to feel shame about his unquenchable appetite for older men. The handsome teen defiantly signs up as an orderly at a local nursing home and quickly falls for Mr. Peabody, a charming, flirtatious soul with one last wish. Forget everything you know about filmmaker Bruce LaBruce: in what is easily his most romantic work to date, he dares us to look beyond fetish to embrace the beauty of all stages of life."

NewFest tickets will go on sale on July 10th. For more information, visit the NewFest website.

And check out the trailers for Futuro Beach (not in English) and Gerontophilia, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Line-Up For NewFest, New York's Biggest LGBT Film Festival, Announced: VIDEO" »


'Pride' Tells The True Story Of LGBT Support For Striking Miners In 1980s Wales - VIDEO

Miners

Set for release in September, culture clash comedy Pride tells the true story of lesbian and gay activists who supported workers during the 1984 National Union of Minerworkers (NUM) strike.

The activists decide to raise money to support the families affected by the strike. When the NUM decides not to accept the money, the fundraisers go straight to the miners and their families in a small Welsh village.

Screened during the directors’ fortnight section at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, the movie stars Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton, Dominic West, and Sophie Evans.

The director's fortnight was the springboard to success for Billy Elliot.

Watch the trailer for Pride, AFTER THE JUMP...

Pride gay miners strike movie

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Film Review: 'Broken Heart Land' Weaves Unexpected And Tragic Tapestry Of Grief

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Broken Heart Land, an expectation-eschewing documentary from directors Jeremy and Randy Stulberg, begins with an all-too-familiar tragedy in the rural American landscape: the suicide of a gay teenager. From there it weaves a far different story than one might anticipate, opting for a complex exploration of a family struck by death and a town in the throws of an identity crisis. 

The setting, Norman, Oklahoma--home to the University of Oklahoma--is seen by many citizens as a bastion of liberal goodwill in one of the nation’s most conservative geographic regions. In reality, though, the town is largely inhabited by Christian conservatives and other folks who fall uneasily within a murky spectrum of political thought. 

BHL2Two such people, Van and Nancy Harrington, are the parents of Zack, a reserved guy who came out in high school, seemingly without significant fanfare and with ardent support from his family. We learn very little about Zack, save for his participation in the high school color guard; his sudden suicide leaves him even more of an enigma. Only when his grieving parents receive the coroners report do they, and the audience, find out that Zack was HIV-positive and had been treating himself with drugs bought on the street. It is a surprising turn of events within the film. One friend, overcome with emotion and unsure whether or not to speak on the matter, recounts the way that Zack finally told her, after over a year of hinting, about his status. The wound of his death is clearly still fresh for everyone involved, and this particular revelation throws them for a loop. The trailer, which we reported on previously, framed Zack’s HIV-status as the central mystery within the narrative, but its reveal comes early, both in the run time and in the mourning process. The film actually seems far more concerned with picking up the pieces and understanding just how great an impact Zack’s death had, particularly on his mother and rather surprisingly on small town politics.

BHL1Just before Zack’s death, he may or may not have attended the Norman town council meeting where an LGBT History Month proposal was discussed and voted on. The mystery of his attendance reflects the unknowable qualities of his personality, but it is no matter in comparison with the bigoted and disturbing diatribe unleashed by many of the town’s most influential conservatives, including Chad Williams, an assistant pastor of a local mega-church and an eventual candidate for town council. 

The dueling campaigns of Williams and an openly lesbian opponent form the backbone of much of the documentary, framed by the broken and embittered family at the center of the tragedy. Both Van and Nancy Harrington are self-proclaimed Republicans and supporters of the LGBT rights movement, an almost oxymoronic combination these days, and their understanding of politics is shaken throughout the film by national trends (see: the Tea Party) and the closer-to-home town council race. Nancy joins a Norman group called Moms Of Many (MOM), formed in the wake of Zack’s death. She learns about the representation of the LGBT community in politics, campaigns for Williams’ competitor, and, in a particularly tense scene, confronts the pastor after all of her LGBT-related questions are ignored at a debate amongst the candidates. Van is largely seen sitting on a couch at home, watching Fox News, and smoking a cigarette; the grief is palpable and nearly unbearable. 

Still, both he and Nancy traverse an arc, from disbelief and upset about Zack’s status (his keeping it from them more so than the fact that he was positive) to a state of sad but empowered motivation to create change. We eventually see them dedicate a bench in Norman to their son and march in an AIDS Walk in his memory. 

BHL3Ultimately the “broken heart land” of the film’s title seems twofold. It is a comment on the nature of grief and tragedy, rendered so vividly in the lives of the Harringtons, and it is an observation about the shifting, highly oppositional politics of a nation, and particularly the midwest. The Harringtons are a family awakened to their own faults, their political aspirations, and their beliefs. The same, unfortunately, cannot necessarily be said for Williams and others in the more conservative contingent. They stand behind a “we love everyone enough to tell them that they are wrong” facade, never owning up to what the filmmakers and the Harringtons come to believe: something, many things, must be wrong in a society where someone, Zack, would take his own life. LGBT inequality, non-comprehensive sex education, and perhaps even organized religion come under fire. While there is no conclusive reason behind Zack's suicide, beautifully-read passages of his tormented poetry and journals accompany nostalgic video footage throughout the film, giving prophetic voice to a young man no longer able to speak his mind.

Broken Heart Land is a powerful, unexpectedly political, and deeply sad documentary. At its center lies a teenager who could have lived a long, fulfilling life, given the support he deserved all along.

You can stream Broken Heart Land online at worldchannel.org, or catch it airing The World Channel through this weekend.


'Los Idolos' A Drag Salute to Five Queer Icons of Color

Hard

The minds behind Hard French are on a mission to revolutionize the dance party scene one fete at a time. The dance collective is kicking off San Francisco’s pride with Los Idolos, a love letter-cum-dance party dedicated to queer visionaries of color,

“We wanted to honor a group queer folks of color who were creative and fierce and inspiring but don't often get recognized in the (usually white gay male) mainstream histories of Pride.” Said Devon Devine, Hard French’s event producer.

The concept for Los Idolos centers around Jackie Shane, a black, genderqueer soul singer who made her mark in Toronto’s early 60s soul scene.

 

 

“Jackie Shane ties in directly to the music we DJ at Hard French,” Devine explained. “Her role in queer history is largely understated and Pride was the perfect time to bring her story to the forefront of our event.”

The party, Devine says, is meant both to inspire and remind us all of pride’s political origins. 

“'Pride' has become so commodified that we often don't remember or recognize that Pride started as a protest - fighting police for our right to exist, coming out and marching down streets to be proud of who we are.”

Watch Hard French channel their inner Grace Jones, Freddie Mercury, Josephine Baker, Juan Gabriel, and Pedro Almodóvar in a teaser video for this Sunday’s event  AFTER THE JUMP...

Grace

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