Food for thought at the LGBT Film & Video Festival
Lately, it seems that I can’t turn around without seeing another heartbreaking news article, blog post, or tweet about some injustice against LGBTQ folk.
Headlines and status updates are filled with attacks against gay marriage, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, or worse — against queer and trans folks themselves. At times, it’s almost enough to make you want to crawl into a dark room and hide.
For me, that dark room is a theater and solace comes from the glimmering lights of a movie screen. Thankfully, this year’s LGBT Film Festival is just around the corner and is packed with more than enough cinematic cures to heal the soul.
“The festival provides a positive space for the community to gather,“ said longtime festival director Carl Bogner. “The films can provide comfort or outrage and give people things to think about … many of the films in this year’s lineup deal with the strength of finding and declaring yourself in a world that can be a hostile place.”
One good example is Joe Wilson and Dean Hamer’s documentary Out in the Silence, which details the struggles of being out in a small town. The film was prompted after the directors’ own wedding announcement sparked outrage in Wilson’s hometown, and was also inspired by a plea for help from a mother whose gay teen son was being harassed at school. The filmmakers got the school board to take action against the bullying, showing that change is possible when people have the courage to stand up for themselves.
Even more extreme is The Kuchus of Uganda which takes a tough look at the fight amongst LGBTQ people in a country where homosexuality is punishable by death. Swedish filmmaker Mathilda Piehl chronicles the brave men, women and transgendered individuals who try to educate their society amidst an environment of violent and pervasive homophobia.
Both films are part of this year’s Documentary Salon, a new programming format the festival is testing out in addition to the regular lineup. Featuring five documentaries reporting on a range of issues from LGBT life, each film will be shown twice — and best of all, screenings are free.
“It’s definitely an incentive to stick around longer,” said Bogner.
Beginning in November with the movie Forever’s Going to Start Tonight (about the world’s oldest transgender performance artist), the first Thursday of each month the festival will bring another LGBTQ themed film to Milwaukee. The alteration also offers the chance to partner with different local groups like the French Film Festival and Pridefest just to name a few.
Bogner is optimistic about the switch. “We hope people don’t feel short-changed. We’re not “gay-married” to the format. We just wanna see how it goes.”
The 23rd Milwaukee LGBT Film Festival runs Oct. 21st through the 24th. For schedule, pricing and more information, click here and check out TCD each day of the festival for in-depth film reviews and previews.
Planning on attending this year’s festival, but still not sure what to see? Here are my Top 5 recommendations:
Friday Oct. 21st 7:30 p.m. – Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls
Opening the festival at the Oriental Theater is the story of Lynda and Jools Topp, the world’s only comedic, yodeling, lesbian sister act from New Zealand. The film follows the pair from their early days growing up on a dairy farm to their success as mainstream television comediennes. These talented twins will not only win you over with their hilarious personalities, but also through their unyielding championing of a range of social issues from LGBT rights to the struggle of indigenous peoples, and anti-nuclear proliferation.
Sat. Oct. 23rd 1 p.m. – Madchen in Uniform (Girls in Uniform) –FREE!
Long out of circulation, this 1958 remake of the 1931 classic offers a rare 1950’s presentation of forbidden lesbian love at an all-girl’s boarding school. Legendary German actress Romy Schneider stars as Manuela, an orphaned teen who falls for her teacher (Lilli Palmer) at a straight-laced academy. A beautifully shot and emotionally wrenching depiction of youthful love and heartache.
Sat. Oct. 23rd 7 p.m. – The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister
Based on the cryptically coded diaries of Anne Lister (1791 – 1840), this BBC production presents the life of a remarkable pioneer of pre-Victorian English society. Financially independent and resistant to the conventions of marriage and her male suitors, Lister openly pursued her romantic and personal interests with disregard for the precepts of her time. A captivating representation of one of LGBT history’s most dramatic figures.
Sat. Oct. 23rd 11 p.m. – Le Tigre: On Tour
If you missed seeing the fiercely smart and danceable trio that was Le Tigre, fear not! You can witness the final tour of this savvy riot grrrl group, as filmmaker Kathy Fix documents Kathleen Hanna, Johanna Fateman and JD Samson as they traverse the queer feminist cultural landscape, and do so with wit and wisdom.
Sun. Oct. 24th 3 p.m. – Eyes Wide Open
Sexuality and faith collide when Aaron, a devout ultra-Orthodox Jewish butcher, meets Ezri, a homeless Yeshiva student who wanders into his butcher shop. Their passionate affair threatens to destroy Aaron’s family, faith and community. Zohar Strauss won best actor at the 2009 Jerusalem Film Festival for his stunning performance as Aaron.