Category Archives: GLBT documentary

“STAINED GLASS WINDOWS”— Gay People and the Church

Shirley-Phelps-Roper-stained-glass-rainbows

“Stained Glass Rainbows”

 Gay People and the Church

It is easy to see the battle over gay rights in the West as being between LGBT people and the Christian Church. However, that’s to ignore the fact many Christians believe in gay rights, and nor does it really deal with what the bible or even the major denominations say about homosexuality (despite what you may think, the Catholic Church’s official position is that being gay is fine, it’s just homosexual acts they have an issue with – which is admittedly extremely problematic). The new documentary Stained Glass Rainbows takes a look at the subject, and you can watch the trailer below.

 ‘Stained Glass Rainbows” looks at the most controversial subject facing America today: the collision between the LGBT community and the Christian church. Can gays be Christian? Is homosexuality a sin? Is there a gay gene? Is there such a thing as an ex-gay? Both families and churches are being torn apart over these divisive issues. The film brings together the voices of the left, the right, the middle, and helps bridge the gulf through its dialogue. From gay pride parades to anti-gay protests, “Stained Glass Rainbows” confronts the controversy of faith through the hearts and minds of people on both sides of this uncivil war.

The filmmakers claim that the movie is ‘neither pro gay nor anti gay. Instead it examines the issues surrounding homosexuality and faith within a Christian context. How will you and your church respond to the LGBT people in your community?’

“INTERSEXION”— Answers to Questions

intersexion

“Intersexion”

Answers to Questions

Amos Lassen

When a child is born, the first question that is usually asked is whether it is a boy or a girl. We never stop to consider another alternative, the child could be neither. There are people who choose not to live within the confines of the gender binary and who are proud to be intersex. We know that nature loves variety just as we should.

This documentary looks at intersex in a humorous vein and we hear and see stories of what it is like to live as intersex in a world where one is made to feel invisible. Many intersex individuals have no idea of such until they hit puberty. Others find out this startling discovery much later on in life. Of course this is quite a serious issue for many. In addition to those who are proud intersex people, there are those who have been traumatised my the stigma of being intersex. Many of these blame surgeons for telling them they are abnormal and need to be fixed, through genital mutilation – erasing who one is through surgery and medicine so that one is assigned to fit into the ordinary and set pattern in which the world exists.

Although it was seen that this genital ‘correction’ provided a solution to a very difficult situation, we do know that gender often is be a learned condition. Through the 60’s and 70’s many believed that nurture was more important than nature. However, hospital practices have been slow to change.

This film brings hope for the future of the intersex. The concept remains uncomfortable for many yet we see that the boundaries of gender are blurring. This tolerance of difference is exactly what a free society should promote. Today when we fill our applications for whatever reason, we are asked to check a box that is either marked male or female. How we react to that is seen in director Grant Lahood’s compelling new documentary “Intersexion” in which he candidly searches for answers to rarely asked questions.

The word “intersex” is not a common household term. In earlier days and times, an intersex person was referred to as a ’true hermaphrodite.’ Those who are intersex are characterized by genitalia that are so ambiguous that doctors cannot easily answer whether the child is a boy or a girl. One in every 2,000 babies in the world are born as ’sexually ambiguous.’ With an estimated 3 million intersex adults living in the world, “Intersextion” states, “Intersex isn’t uncommon, it’s just unheard of.”

We hear from New Zealand therapist and intersex person Mani Mitchell. Born and first raised as Bruce, and then as Margaret, Mitchell seeks to talk to and meet other intersex adults willing to share their stories. Even with the large numbers of intersex adults believed to exist, few are willing to come out of the shadows and have their stories told… until now.

 As we watch and listen to Lahood’s interviews with numerous intersex adults uncovers heartbreaking sagas of how these adults were treated as children. Many moved back and forth from being raised as a girl, to a boy, back again, or vice-versa. Many suffered unnecessary surgeries by unenlightened doctors, crippling them sexually and physical, solely because their parents were forced to choose their sex while they were still juveniles. Some intersex adults had absolutely no idea of their differences until later into adulthood. Some, but not all, suffered sexual, physical, and emotional abuse as children, because of the world’s ignorance in this rarely discussed field.

“Intersex” intelligently and lovingly brings these “in-betweens” out of the closet and gets them to discuss, first hand, their need to identify, and negotiate, the labels and categories that society has created for us all. Understandably angry, strong and surviving, they refuse shame and courageously break their secrecy for the sake of those that will come after them.

Mitchell, Lahood, and the subjects of “Intersexion” share a special bond that, until only recently, begins to provide solidarity in the knowledge that they are not alone. Their message is simple: “Love your children for who they are. Being different is not only OK, but should also be the norm.”

Why is it that, when forms ask “Are you male or female?”, there’s never a box for “No”? Perhaps it doesn’t seem like this should matter. You might think everybody is one or the other; or that those who blur the boundaries are vanishingly few in number. You’d be wrong on both counts. Even the most conservative estimates suggest there are millions of intersex people out there. Some of them may be your friends. Why can’t you tell? Well, because most such people have been taught that a failure to ‘pass’ as male or female (and, preferably, identify that way) would mean instant social exclusion and possibly violence. Shame is the order of the day – such shame that, historically, it has been routine practice to erase case records so that nobody knows such possibilities exist.

This documentary aims to set the record straight. Carefully navigating related politics and sticking to a consensus approach, it outlines the protocols that have ben used in recent history to manage the existence of socially challenging bodies. It talks about the huge variety of intersex variations, some of which are obvious at birth whilst others are only diagnosed later in life, if at all. It talks about the surgeries still commonly performed on intersex babies with the purported aim of helping them ‘fit in’, often leaving them devoid of sexual sensation for the rest of their lives. The other medical problems that often stem from such treatments, and the particular health risks facing intersex people more generally, are underexplored, but that’s forgiveable given the considerable amount of information on other issues the film packs into its running time. It may also be an artefact of a decision to eschew some of the grimmest stuff in favour of an approach that highlights the positives in at least some of its subjects’ lives – for the many intersex people who feel isolated, this will prove an inspiring piece of work, showing that being born different need not inevitably lead to inescapable suffering.

Given that many viewers of this film will be learning about intersex issues for the first time, it has to balance providing a solid overview of the basics with engaging an uncertain audience and respecting its subjects. This is something it does very well, largely thanks to a series of strong interviews with charismatic individuals whose personal stories combine into a complex whole. Issues of gender identity – those who feel male, female or neither – are explored with such simplicity and honesty that they are unlikely to alienate viewers. The film challenges conventional notions about what makes a ‘real’ man or woman, and also looks at prejudices and expectations around sexual orientation that have contribued to the identities imposed on many intersex people from outside. Reference is made to famous cases that call into question the notion of gender as an entirely social phenomenon, and several of the film’s participants enthuse about their lives in San Francisco, a city whose liberal attitudes make life far easier.

There are some horrific stories here, and those who have been subject to unwanted surgeries themselves will find parts of it hard to watch. Anyone who has supported campaigns against female genital mutilation will be left wondering why countries that condemn it still allow this sort of thing to go on. Others will wonder simply how such a big issue has been hidden for so long. Intersexion is a vital film not only in bringing it to public view, but in doing so primarily through the stories of intersex people themselves – people tired of being squeezed out of society, now setting their own agenda. Not just a footnote on an already crowded equalities agenda, but part of the world like anybody else.

“DUANE MICHALS: THE MAN WHO INVENTED HIMSELF”— A Master Photographer and Story Teller

duane michals

“Duane Michals: The Man Who Invented Himself”

A Master Photographer and Story Teller

Amos Lassen

Duane Michals has been hailed as one of the American masters of photography and he is also a natural-born storyteller who incorporates hand-written texts to his images to add another dimension of meaning. His work is internationally known and respected and there are pieces in major collections of the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art, among many others. This film, “Duane Michals: The Man Who Invented Himself”, follows him around his favorite locations (Pittsburgh, New York, Vermont) and explores his use of universal themes such as love, desire, death and immortality.

What is interesting about him for the gay community is that even though he was never really involved in gay civil rights or particularly vocal about his sexuality, his photography has addressed many gay themes. He has been in a relationship with his partner for well over 50 years. Michals is a brilliant portrait photographer as well. He has photographed filmmakers Pier Paolo Pasolini and Roman Polanski and artists such as Rene Magritte and Giorgio de Chirico. Because he was never in the spotlight nor did he want to be, we know relatively little about him and this film fills in some of that gap by giving us a look at the artist behind the work.

“EYE ON THE GUY: ALAN B. STONE & THE AGE OF BEEFCAKE”— A Pioneer

eye on the guy

“Eye on the Guy: Alan B. Stone & the Age of Beefcake”

A Pioneer

Amos Lassen

Alan B. Stone was an astute businessman, quiet suburbanite and master of the homoerotic pin-up. “Eye on the Guy: Alan B. Stone & the Age of Beefcake” looks at the little-known world of Montreal’s physique photography scene – a distinct gay subculture that emerged in the ’50s and ’60s – through the life and work of one of Stone.

Before the first wave of gay liberation, and long before Calvin Klein, Stone took hundreds of erotic photos of men and running an international mail-order business from his Montreal basement.

The film tells about his life, times and achievements in a short, but comprehensive film. It consists of vintage footage, old pictures, and varied interviews that reveal a quiet photographer and businessman, suffering from excruciatingly painfully arthritis since his late teenage years but who became his time’s master of homo-erotic photography, while remaining in many ways a common man living in the suburbs. Even though he loved the suburbs of Montreal, he also loved the city itself. He quietly revolted against the moral conventions of post World War II Canada, exposing the beauty of thousands of body builders, fishermen, construction workers, cowboys, and the like, at a time when extreme discretion was required. His “muscle” magazines of the 50s and 60s gave way to the openly porn gay films and magazines that followed.

These ‘beefcake’ pictures (as they were called) were the porn of that time. before Playgirl, et al came into being. It was only when Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau declared in 1967 that the government would no longer have a role in the bedrooms of Canadians that the full frontal porn we know of today took off.

The sheer volume of his work was amazing and artfully done. Montreal had been a center for male-physique photography in the ’50s and ’60s. But aside from the male-physique photography, Stone captured a broad spectrum of other subjects in his work. He also did extensive travel and landscape photography and he seemed to have a sense of humor in much of his nude work. Some of the photos are great fun.

HEART WRENCHING NEW TRAILER: “UPSTAIRS INFERNO”: Film about gay mass murder, like you’ve never seen before

 

upstairs

HEART WRENCHING NEW TRAILER: “UPSTAIRS INFERNO”: Film about gay mass murder, like you’ve never seen before

http://vimeo.com/112226651

November 19, 2014 – Camina Entertainment is excited to release the second highly emotional teaser trailer for the eagerly awaited documentary, UPSTAIRS INFERNO. 

http://vimeo.com/112226651

An IndieGoGo fundraising campaign also runs through Sunday, November 23rd to help offset the incredibly expensive licensing fees for newspaper photos and newsreel footage. (http://igg.me/at/Upstairs-Inferno-Film/x/83651) Following November 23rd, a PayPal link will be on the film’s website to facilitate donations. (www.upstairsinferno.com)

On June 24, 1973, an arsonist set fire to a gay bar in New Orleans called the Up Stairs Lounge. The result was the largest gay mass murder in U.S. history. Despite the staggering historical significance, few people know about the tragedy. Thirty-two people were killed and some bodies were never identified because their families were ashamed that the victims were gay. No one was ever charged with the crime. The tragedy did not stop at the loss of lives. There were also the delayed injuries: lost jobs, fear, public ridicule and severed families. The devastation was compounded by the homophobic reactions and utter lack of concern by the general public, government and religious leaders. The fire permanently altered lives and was the root of many lifelong struggles.

The new trailer for UPSTAIRS INFERNO is very personal. It brings humanity into the headlines by shining a light on the very painful effect the tragedy had on survivors, witnesses and loved ones. It’s noteworthy to mention that it includes a heart wrenching interview of a survivor who lost her lover, Reggie Adams in the blaze. As part of her long healing process, she legally changed her name to “Regina Adams” in honor of her “one true love”. In addition, the trailer includes Ricky Everett and Francis Dufrene (two survivors who barely escaped the inferno), the son of one of the victims, Reverend Troy Perry, and more.

UPSTAIRS INFERNO is poised to be the most comprehensive and authoritative film on the fire. Interviews with survivors and witnesses to the aftermath have been heart wrenching and insightful. Some of the people we interviewed haven’t discussed the fire until now, especially on camera. I’m thrilled to say that many granted us exclusive on-camera interviews. The documentary also features interviews with historians, experts and current leaders of the New Orleans LGBT community. UPSTAIRS INFERNO will be the only documentary about the fire to feature these pivotal players in one place. Police reports, crime scene photographs, personal photographs, newspaper clippings and video clips from local news stations are also featured in the film. The previous, highly publicized trailer is located at http://vimeo.com/94905654.

Because a historical film cannot exist without historical photos and footage, the licensing fees are the only things delaying the release of the film. People can donate to UPSTAIRS INFERNO and help preserve history on film by following the link on www.upstairsinferno.com or directly at http://igg.me/at/Upstairs-Inferno-Film/x/83651

Camina’s previous documentary, “Raid of the Rainbow Lounge” recounted the widely publicized and controversial June 28, 2009 police raid of a Fort Worth, Texas gay bar that resulted in multiple arrests and serious injuries. The film, narrated by TV icon Meredith Baxter, continues to engage sold-out audiences across the country! Over the past 15 months, the documentary has screened over 35 times, including 29 mainstream and LGBT film festivals across the United States, Mexico and Canada. The film has won several awards including 5 “Best” Film and 3 “Audience Choice” Awards. The film also received attention from the Office of the White House, Department of Justice and a division of the U.S. State Department. (www.RaidoftheRainbowLounge.com)
UPSTAIRS INFERNO
Anticipated release: 2015
Estimated run time: 90 minutes.
Directed and produced by Robert L. Camina (“Raid of the Rainbow Lounge”)

More information is available at www.upstairsinferno.com
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/UpstairsInferno
Twitter page: @UpstairsInferno

Robert L. Camina
Writer/Director/Producer
RCamina@CaminaEntertainment.com

“THE RIGHT TO LOVE : AN AMERICAN FAMILY”— A Loving Family

the right to love

“THE RIGHT TO LOVE : AN AMERICAN FAMILY”

A Loving Family

Amos Lassen

Thirteen years ago Jay Foxworthy and Bryan Leffew became good friends, fell in love and had a Civil Union. Along the way, they fostered and adopted Daniel and his sister Selena. When gay marriage was legalized in California in 2008, Jay and Bryan married each other at City Hall in San Francisco. Both men come from blue-collar families and both are churchgoers in San Diego where they live. They were not politically active until

Protect Marriage Organization was able to get Proposition 8 on the Ballot in an attempt to ban same-sex marriage. They became frustrated and angry, worried that their marriage may be invalidated. Jay and Brian made a series of videos about their everyday life that they published on Youtube and called them Gay Family Values They wanted put a human face on the gay marriage debate.  They felt that the overriding criticism of the ‘No To 8′ Campaign was the ill-advised choice of not featuring any happily married gay couples at all when stating their argument and their series of ‘home movies’ shows how very wrong the ‘No’ organizers had been.

The Leffew family is a regular family that consists of an articulate and passionate pair of attractive men who were prepared to step outside their own comfort zone to safeguard their families future. The film shows us the anger and desperation that was caused by Proposition 8. Director Cassie has brought all of this together here. We also see and hear Rachel Maddow simply point out that as marriage was a ‘right’ for all, then the Constitution made it illegal for any state to withhold those rights from anyone.  We know this to be true since the recent Supreme Court Ruling.   As a result of the videos that were posted on YouTube by these gays and others, public opinion began to shift in favor of gay marriage. Now society is able to see who we are and that our values are the same as others.

“INREALLIFE’— The Internet and Youth

in real life

“InRealLife”

The Internet and Youth

Amos Lassen

“InRealLife” (yes, all one word) takes us on a journey from the bedrooms of British teenagers to the world of Silicon Valley, to find out what exactly the Internet is doing to our children. Filmmaker Beeban Kidron suggests that rather than the promise of free and open connectivity, young people are becoming increasingly trapped in a commercial world. What seems tempting and exciting can actually alienating and addictive. “InRealLife” asks if we can afford to stand by while children, trapped in their 24/7 connectivity, are being outsourced to the net?

The film examines how children are adapting to the technological world we live in. This is an eye-opening and sometimes shocking documentary that examines the constantly developing relationship between technology and psychology. It features some very important people that include Julian Assange, Nicolas Negroponte, Jimmy Wales, Luis Von Ahn, Sherry Turkle, Nicholas Carr and Maggie Jackson.

inreal1

We have learned that western civilizations are vastly ignorant over the repercussions of their online activities. What’s more, the influence the web has on its into its present users doesn’t begin to show how this will affect years to come. Youth today has become web-dependent and we see this by following disturbing accounts from internet-addicted teens.

 We are given an ambiguous collection of horror stories that showcase the frailty of the human condition in the hands of corporate computer companies. The director uses a sustained journalistic approach that collates an unabridged cache of industry professionals, commentators and users. Teenage case studies to explore their online deviations. Opening with 15-year-old Ryan, the director inquires what the boy enjoys most about the web. Unsurprisingly, Ryan tells us about his fixation with online pornography. We see that this is a very common reply but what we hear from Ryan is much deeper than boyish innocence. With the aid of Kidron’s reassuring interview style, Ryan realizes his secularization from experiencing real-life emotions – love, intimacy – fuelled by his sexual voyeurism. There are other stories like Ryan’s that are cleverly interspersed with the appropriate intellectual scaremongering one would expect from a topic as universal as Internet addiction. Julian Assange preaches of libertarian democracy from his Ecuadoran embassy impound, while other speakers such as Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales and Sherry Turkle highlight the damaging nature of the digital age upon our youth.

 “InRealLife” whittles down to highlighting macro issues on a desperately micro scale. Every tale told is enough to merit its own feature length analysis. Alternatively, we see each point of concern —the reality of cyber-bullying, addictive insecurities, corporate monopolization, etc. This is very much like a science-fiction horror story except that this is not fiction. It is cinematic storytelling and is in fact, a documentary feature that reels you into a genuinely creepy-crawly world. It presents us with a reality in which children are stripped of humanity and it doesn’t get scarier than this.

We witness how kids filter their contact and communication with others via an insidious online assault upon their individuality (“or, as the best dystopian science fiction will always have us believe, their very souls”).

The movie is compelling and terrifying and diverting as it is, we face something here head-on. Though a 90-minute feature film can only glance upon the surface of such a huge subject, director Kidron does so with such mesmerizing commitment the picture moves us forward and keeps our eyes glued to the screen.

inreal2

 Several of the stories are downright horrific and as such, they are presented with clear, simple compositions and just the right off-camera questions and conversation to let the kids do what they need to do and say. The same goes for the interviews with all the various experts in the fields of psychology, engineering, marketing and, of course, the various cyber worlds of texting, gaming, social networking, net surfing and face-to-face communications as explained and opined upon by said experts.

 There is a girl’s tale than when she relates how, upon finally acquiring a cell phone it’s snatched from her by a teenage boy who leads her back to a flat where she is forced to endure a gang-bang to get her phone back. But there is also the opposite— a gay teen that engages in a long-distance online relationship with another lad. Neither of the boys had met each other, yet when Kidron follows one of the boys on his long journey to finally meet his online lover and we see genuine warmth, endearment and respect that offer a sense of hope to gray world of cyber communication.

 We meet a variety of kids: for example, two young boys so addicted to internet porn that they happily and somewhat innocently expect women to look like porn stars and to perform sex acts identical to those they watch on their computer monitors. They express that anything less in real life would be a horrible disappointment. Then there’s a clearly brilliant young man who has messed up his otherwise promising academic standing at Oxford with his online addictions and now spends virtually every waking hour in front of a computer – social networking or gaming. When asked what he’d do if these options were not available, he admits, somewhat disappointedly, that he’d “probably” have to “read a book”.

 The tales continue, but are alternated with y a series of interviews with the experts who provide information and analysis that many of us probably know and/or ignore. What is really frightening is just how many parents have no idea of what their kids are up to and this is certainly reflected in a nasty case of cyber bullying Kidron shows us, one that escalates into every parent’s worst nightmare.

 The film hammers home a series of basic facts – most of which seem perfectly reasonable under the circumstances. Websites are designed to track us and the threat to privacy has never been direr. The sites are there to collect date and with all this information comes power.

“ULTRASUEDE : IN SEARCH OF HALSTON”— A Man for All Seasons

ultrasuede

“ULTRASUEDE : IN SEARCH OF HALSTON”

A Man for All Seasons

Amos Lassen

Halston was the first American first haute couturier to be taken seriously.  He progressed from milliner to revered iconic fashion designer in a very short time. He was a flamboyant and fun-loving man who firmly put his sartorial stamp on everything in the Studio 54 era so that his ‘star’ on Fashion’s Walk of Fame in New York says rightly that “The 70’s Belonged to Halston”. Unfortunately this movie by socialite Whitney Smith does not do him justice.

 Smith was totally unversed in fashion but he managed to get some interviews with industry luminaries such as Andre Leon Tally, Diane von Furstenberg and Stephen Burrows but s his own personal agenda caused these great opportunities to be wasted.  He even failed to listen to Liza Minnelli when she pleaded with him to go do some research into Halston’s life and work.

 Nonetheless Halston’s legacy still manages to come through with some wonderful archival footage that reveals exactly how truly wonderful the clothes he created were.  In his public private life, Halston was a dedicated partygoer and showman that ran with a very fast crowd but his innovative and elegant fashion that he produced on the Runway was stunningly chic and totally wearable. Because he was dressing a young Jacqueline Kennedy as First Lady at the same time as he clothed some of New York society’s dowagers and as well as the party girls at Studio 54 says a great deal about his talent.

It seemed appropriate that he be chosen to be the first high-end designer to make a mass-market collection for J C Penney’s which sadly failed but he did  pave the way for all the designers of today who cannot wait to do work for the likes of stores such as Target and H and M.

He loved life to the fullest, having the most strikingly beautiful contemporary house designed and built in Manhattan and he was known to spend some $100,000 a year on orchids alone shows the kind of person that he was. His boyfriend was Victor Hugo and it is said that he was the crazier of Halston’s group. Looking at how they lived them makes today seem so mild and tame.

Halston’s story ends sadly— greedy corporations bought and sold Halston’s business several times thereby denying the man himself the right to use the very talents that they had paid big bucks for. After that Halston became one of the first of the famous casualties of the AIDS epidemic in 1990. Maybe the day will come when we have the kind of film that does justice to the man and his name.

“DECODING ALAN TURING”— Remembering Turing

decoding poster

“Decoding Alan Turing”

Remembering Turing

Amos Lassen

2014 has been a good year for Alan Turing and it is too bad that he is not around to appreciate it. We lost Turning to death by his own hand because he could not deal with the punishment that the British government gave to him –medical castration or life in prison. Turing was a brilliant mathematician, logician, cryptographer, computer scientist and a world-class runner. He was a Cambridge graduate, who was fundamental to cracking the Nazi’s Enigma Code during World War II and who’s momentous paper, “On Computable Numbers” created the basis for the modern programmable computer.

Alan Turing was also a gay male. He was a victim of the intolerance and legal prosecution of his time. He went though hormone therapy in attempt to change his behavior and suffered their side effects – and the consequences. His death was shrouded in mystery and was a tragic loss to Great Britain and the world. Who knows where his mind would have taken the science of Mathematics or the world of modern computing?

Posthumously, he has been lauded. Universities around the world have programs and buildings in his name. He has earned an English Heritage Blue Plate on his childhood home. And, since 1966, an award in his name has been given each year by the Association for Computing Machinery, widely considered to be the computing world’s equivalence of the Nobel

 On September 9, 2009 UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown issued an apology on behalf of the British Government for the treatment and persecution of Alan Turing and recognizing his invaluable contributions to the world. Queen Elizabeth also pardoned him posthumously.

Turing affected modern society more than any other individual to date. Turing was drafted into service during WWII to work at Bletchley Park and helped crack the Nazi Enigma Code and turn the tide of WWII for the Allies. A hero many times over, he was later persecuted by the same country he fought to protect for being a homosexual. It is rumored that the Apple Computer logo— the apple with a bite missing that adorns so many of our most prized electronics is a nod to those in the know about Alan Mathison Turing, an English Mathematician (widely hailed as the father of the modern computer) who was found dead at age 41 with a poisoned apple laying next to his bed.

Like so many, Turing grew up gay and felt alone and different. Little did he know what a role model he would become.

“JULIAN”— Who was Julian?

julian

“Julian”

Who was Julian?

Amos Lassen

Julian has been called many things— a philosopher, a hedonist, a sage and a charlatan.  Friends, associates and scholars lend their opinions in this look into Julian’s controversial ideas, his secrets and his public persona.  Was he a cult leader or simply a clever performance artist?  He was cut down at the height of his fame, vanished and presumed dead yet Julian is still the enigma today that he was in the prime of his short career. The film, “Julian”, directed by Michael Yates,  is about a failed attempt to revive the primitive role of art as a means of worship; much like the pagan Emperor Julian (“Julian the Apostate”) tried to hold back the establishment of Christianity as the state religion of Rome.  This is a movie about failure yet it is very interesting. Movies about failure aren’t that popular, but I think they’re often more interesting.

Julian had brains but he did not really know how to deal with his intelligence. He was an intellectual with a humanistic worldview and tried  being a cult leader in order to reach an audience beyond academia and mainstream culture. He really had no formal education and he did not need followers but they came.  

His philosophy combined Carl Sagan, Gore Vidal, Norman O. Brown, Marshall McLuhan and Alan Watts.  It is opposite to the apocalyptic paranoia of Manson and Jim Jones, and it was not inherently compatible with a discipleship. This is from where the main tension comes in this film—somewhere between the aspirations of Julian and the reality that falls short.  It was not about this character as much as about the perceptions that others had of him.

 The film is loosely structured and intuitive.  It is not a narrative drama and is difficult to classify. It is part scripted, part improvised, part mockumentary, and part video essay.