Monthly Archives: July 2012

OUTFEST 2012 AWARD WINNERS

OUTFEST 2012 AWARD WINNERS

 

SPECIAL PROGRAMMING AWARDS

  •  Special Programming Award for Freedom, Sponsored by The Mondrian Los Angeles
    I AM A WOMAN NOW, Directed by Michiel van Erp
  • Special Programming Award for Artistic Achievement, Sponsored by Fandango
    SHE MALE SNAILS, Directed by Ester Martin Bergsmark
  • Special Programming Award for Emerging Talent, Sponsored by Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP
    Marialy Rivas, Writer/Director

AUDIENCE AWARDS

  • Outstanding Documentary Short Film, Sponsored by Ramada Plaza Hotel West Hollywood
    A FORCE OF NATURE, Directed by Barbara Kopple
  • Outstanding Dramatic Short Film, Sponsored by Wolfe Video
    THE FIRST DATE, Directed by Janella Lacson
  • Outstanding Documentary Feature Film, Sponsored by Greenhouse Studios
    I STAND CORRECTED, Directed by Andrea Meyerson
  • Outstanding Dramatic Feature Film, Sponsored by Innovative Artists
    ANY DAY NOW, Directed by Travis Fine
  • Outstanding First U.S. Dramatic Feature Film, Sponsored by HBO (cash prize of $5,000 from HBO)
    MOSQUITA Y MARI, Directed by Aurora Guerrero 

JURY AWARDS

  • Outstanding Documentary Short Film, Sponsored by Greenhouse Studios
    THE DEVOTION PROJECT: MORE THAN EVER, Directed by Antony Osso
  • Outstanding Narrative Short Film, Sponsored by CRE Computer & Audiovisual Solutions
    DOL (FIRST BIRTHDAY), Directed Andrew Ahn
  • Outstanding Documentary Feature Film, Sponsored by Avalon
    WILDNESS, Directed by Wu Tsang
  • Outstanding International Dramatic Feature Film, Sponsored by The Los Angeles Athletic Club
    MY BROTHER THE DEVIL, Directed by Sally El Hosaini
  • Outstanding Actress in a US Dramatic Feature Film, Sponsored by The Avenue Hollywood
    Fenessa Pineda, MOSQUITA Y MARI
  • Outstanding Actor in a US Dramatic Feature Film, Sponsored by Oxygen
    Alan Cumming, ANY DAY NOW
  • Outstanding Screenwriting in a US Dramatic Feature Film, Sponsored by Yellow Cab
    Ira Sachs & Mauricio Zacharias, KEEP THE LIGHTS ON
  • Outstanding U.S. Dramatic Feature Film, Sponsored by Saks Fifth Avenue
    KEEP THE LIGHTS ON, Directed by Ira Sachs

FUNKYTOWN”— Montreal,1976

“Funkytown”

Montreal, 1976

Amos Lassen 

Following the lives of characters in Montreal in 1976, we are taken back to that time when disco ruled. Our eight main characters’ lives come together at Starlight, the place to be in Montreal. We get to know our characters as we look at their lives. Chief among them is Bastien, a drug addict who dreams of being an actor and having his pick of women and it is around him that the story revolves.

In the late 1970s disco was declining and Quebec was in the midst of the separatist movement. During the disco era, our bodies spoke for us and as we look at the era, we meet quite a cast of characters.  Bastien Lavallee (Patrick Huard) is a host on television on a show called Disco Dance Party and he is quite the celebrity. Working with him is Jonathan Aaronson (Paul Doucet) and he lets people know what the latest fad is and what is “in” and what is “out”. Jonathan is gay and he and Bastien hang out at Starlight.

Bastien wants Adriana (Sarah Mutch), a supermodel with great looks but with no talent. Gilles (Raymond Bouchard), the owner of Starlight, is a record producer and he works with his son, Peter (Robert Crooks) who is trying to escape his father’s dominance. Through Gilles we meet Mimi (Genevieve Brouillette), an out of-work sister because of some bad advice that Gilles gave her. She wants a career but nobody wants her. Adriana and her manager, Nicole (Jocelyne Zucco) also wants to launch her career. Bastien and Adriana meet at Starlight and their love affair begins.

 Tino (Justin Chatwin) is the disco king who is gay and this consumes him so that he claims to be straight. He says he is in love with his dancing partner, Tina (Romina d’Ugo) yet he is having a romance with Jonathan. Each of the characters seeks fame and each does so in his own way.

This is a film of fame, sex, drugs and disco and we meet the characters as each is introduced while at different points in their lives. There are several stories going on at one time but we do not get confused. The screenplay is so well written that everything works and the stories come across as amazingly real. I was swept up into the movie almost from the moment it began. The music is wonderful and a reminder of a time that was.

 “Written beautifully … From start to finish this movie was amazing. Great music … incredible performances … funny, touching and exciting.” – The Film Reel “Echoes of acclaimed American director Paul Thomas Anderson’s ensemble dramas BOOGIE NIGHTS and MAGNOLIA” – MontrealGazette.com “Some SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER with some 54 and some BOOGIE NIGHTS, even some LAST DAYS OF DISCO sprinkled in …” – SF Examiner.com “FUNKYTOWN takes you back to the 70s in beautiful ways … spectacularly captures the moment.”
– NOW “FUNKYTOWN takes us on a ride through the glitz and glamour of the era … hip and stylish retro-morality tale.” – Frameline “Perfectly recreated 70’s flashback from the fantastically gaudy fashions, the great upbeat music, hot dance sequences.” – The Scene in Toronto “The high energy will carry you along and the performances are strong.” – Jam! Showbiz “Director Daniel Roby and screenwriter Steve Galluccio approach their subject matter with intelligence and panache.” – Straight.com “Faithfully recaptures the era … with a soundtrack that will have you shaking your groove thing.”
– The Globe and Mail “The FUNKYTOWN soundtrack, which plays like a best-of album from the period, is infectious, a reminder of a time when Saturday night was made for dancing …” – The Star.com

 

 

 

 

 

“Some Assembly Required” by Walter Beck— A Wonderful New Chapbook

Beck, Walter. “Some Assembly Required”, Writing Knights Press. 2012.

 A Wonderful New Chapbook

 Amos Lassen

 I do not often review chapbooks for two reasons: I usually am not sent copies and/or they are difficult to review because they are short. Nevertheless, every once in a while I do get them and if they are worthy of a good review then I will indeed review them. Walter Beck is a new poet (new for me) who is making waves with his brutally honest verse and the fact that he dares to say what others shy away from. I have posted on this site several of his poems because they “slap me across the face” and I really love when a poet dares. Beck tells us in his chapbook that his poetic influences are some of the very same poets that I love to read: Chuck Willman, Raymond Luczak, Allan Ginsberg, Charles Bukowski, Michael D. Williams and Eric Norris. He is also influenced by what I call non-traditional poetry–the lyrics of Alice Cooper and the MC5, the blues of Son House and John Lee Hooker and happenings like “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”, drag bars and “life in strange and gritty lane…the sweaty and savage picket lines of righteous anger… the often masked life of a camp counselor and the love of my [his] countless brothers and sisters”. Quite simply, Beck writes of reality, of the way we live and the way we love.

There are four poems here—“An Artist Sells-Out”, “American Purgatory”, “Take Me Back Home “ and “Mountain Bike in the Garage”. These titles alone tell you that what you read here is honest and real and personal and even with that, Beck shares them with us. Whether he writes about a metaphorical prison cell, the feelings he has for his bike, solitude and loneliness or longing, he bares himself for us to scrutinize. Beck says we are a nation “living only on nostalgia” as our society crumbles and it is our obligation to change the way we live. In a word I must say “Bravo” and tell you to keep your eyes on this young poet because I have a feeling that “we ain’t heard nothin’ yet”.

 

“WHITE FROG”— A New Film from Quentin Lee

“White Frog”

A New Film from Quentin Lee

Amos Lassen

One of the films on the festival circuit is getting great reviews and has people talking. Quentin Lee’s fifth feature film, “White Frog” is a look at an Asian family in which Chaz (Harry Shum Jr.), the oldest son is secretly gay. When he is killed in a bicycle accident, his family (B.D. Wong, Joan Chen and Booboo Stewart)) have to re-evaluate everything they ever knew and everything they thought they knew about Chaz (including the idea that he was gay). It is a coming-of-age movie about a young Asian, something we rarely see.

 

 

“Absolutely Fabulous: 20th Anniversary Specials (2012)”—- Eddy and Patsy Are Back

“Absolutely Fabulous: 20th Anniversary Specials (2012)”

Eddy and Patsy Are Back!!!

Amos Lassen

We love “Absolutely Fabulous” and I have really missed the shows. Come September 11, the show will be back (on DVD) and some twenty years later than the original series. Eddy (Jennifer Saunders) and Patsy (Joanna Lumley) return with their slapstick humor. They are the original fashionistas who often found themselves so drunk they simply could not seem to do anything right (except make us laugh). Not much has changed in the two decades we have lived without them and now we have their award–winning performances in three specials. One of them will undergo a life changing experience, Eddy is out to change the career of a very important person and in the third special we see the two wacky women as they claim their own special place in the 2012 London Olympics. They may be older but they have not slowed down and as always they are still absolutely fabulous.

 

 

 

“Blue Jesus: A Novel” by Tom Edwards— A Southern Novel

Edwards, Tom, “Blue Jesus: A Novel”, Academy Chicago Publishers, 2009.

A Southern Novel

Amos Lassen

Bobby Dean is an eleven year old boy who has moved to the mountains of north Georgia to live with his grandmother after his own mother died. He soon meets Early Finch, a boy with blue skin and a descendant of the Blue People of Troublesome Creek, Kentucky. If you love coming-of-age stories, you will love this book. There is tenderness and pain and lots of humor as it looks at what it means to grow up and be bullied.

Tom Edwards, the author, had to live up to the Southern literary tradition which brought us such writers as Tennessee Williams, William Faulkner, Truman Capote and others. Buddy is different and something of a sissy and picked on because of that. He is a dreamer and his dreams dominate him. He suffered abuse every day and then he met Early. Early had his own problems and was picked on for being “retarded”. The two outcasts become friends when they are still young and a bond keeps them together especially when Buddy feels Early channeling his dead mother. Early says he has a gift from God which Buddy witnesses when they discover a dead infant at the local dump and Early is able to revive it. Soon people are talking about Early and before he realizes it, he has a following.

There is also a confrontation of racism here when Early at a church revival demands that all of the church choirs perform together.

The book deals with some of the most difficult issues that we face— religion, sexuality, physical appearance, child abuse, friendship and the worth of life. Buddy narrates the story and we see how he sees the world through his eleven year old eyes.

The writing is crisp and clean, the characters are wonderfully drawn and the plot really has something to say. Here is a novel written in the Southern tradition and will keep you turning pages as fast as you can.

 

 

 

“Love Is the Cure: On Life, Loss, and the End of AIDS” by Elton John— Sir Elton Speaks

John, Elton. “Love Is the Cure: On Life, Loss, and the End of AIDS”, Little, Brown, 2012.

Sir Elton Speaks

Amos Lassen

Many of us who lived through the AIDS epidemic lost many friends who died needless deaths because the government would not step in and do something. Personally, I still have a hard time thinking and talking about what happened and while AIDS solidified our community, the price we paid was tremendously high. Elton John lost many friends and he is not afraid to speak out. As the disease took so many, John became a friend of Ryan White, the youngster from Indiana whose town turned its back on and whose school ignored because he was HIV positive as the result of a blood transfusion. It was the influence of his friendship with the boy, that Elton John realized that his own life was in shambles and that he had to do something to help stop AIDS and prevent future deaths.

John has become of the major voices and advocates for eradicating AIDS and the stigma attached to it. He started the Elton John AIDS foundation which has gone to raise a great deal f money—$275,000,000 so far and he is dedicated to fighting the epidemic wherever it is. In this memoir, John gives us his personal story of his own life and his relationships with Ryan White, Freddy Mercury, Princess Diana, Elizabeth Taylor and how he came to set up his foundation. This is quite an emotional and powerful read. Ending the disease, he says, is paramount but also of importance is to change minds about AIDS. We must tear down the barriers and build ways of understanding and we must ask why we are not doing any more than what has been done.

As John reflects on his own personal losses, he shares with us his own personal sufferings as he watched others die. It is not enough that we know him as a wonderfully talented musician; we must also know that he is a brave activist who cares so much about others. This is not an autobiography but a rather short look at one aspect of John’s life and as we read, we feel his compassion and his love.

John is a celebrity that has endured for 40 years and I am sure that this is not just because of his music. He was one of the first celebrities to publicly admit his homosexuality and at a time that it was not financially prudent to do so. He also became one of the first celebrities to become involved with the AIDS epidemic and he has never wavered. Here he shares with us about his own addictions and reckless behavior and even tells us that he had wasted a good part of his life. We see his joy for life and we hear of those who did not survive and while he seems to be larger than life, he has reserved a special place for those who are gone.

 

 

 

“Jan Unleashed” by Robin Anderson— Following a Star

Anderson, Robin. “Jan Unleashed”, 2012.

Following a Star

Amos Lassen

Meet Jan VB Pedroza, international star. Her career is nothing short of amazing. She goes for what she wants and destroys anything and anyone who stands in her way. If you are familiar with Robin Anderson’s writing, then you already know that you can expect a wacky plot with wacky characters and no one knows how to write about wackiness like Robin Anderson. His books are travelogues, in a sense, and we go along for the ride. When Jan meets photographer Bazil Bruno things get wild. Jan moves from “dumpy schoolgirl” to international star and she is just so crazy that following her escapades is sheer fun. Jan is totally outrageous and nothing stands in her way.

“From rampant bullfighters; steamy sitar players; testosterone-infused taxi drivers; a pool man; a President and a Wolf Creek type scenario to deter even the most stalwart of souls, the original ugly duckling now Jan VB “UnleashedPedroza with her “The Angle and The Dangle” conquers all”. And this is a book that will have you yelling for more. Anderson has the ability to create unforgettable characters who lead unforgettable lives and we are so lucky that he shares them with us. I have quite a collection of Robin Anderson titles and I never tire of them and have found that they are that much better the second and third time. If you have never read Anderson, here is a great place to start.

 

 

 

“Love Bomb and the Pink Platoon” by Ryan Gielen— A Military Experiment Goes Bad

Gielen, Ryan. “Love Bomb and the Pink Platoon”, Brown Penny, 2012.

 

A Military Experiment Goes Bad

 

Amos Lassen

 

General Newman Ginger is a deeply religious man but when a military experiment goes bad and an entire platoon becomes gay, he has to find a way to continue loving his men (and himself) even though this is not what he has believed his entire life. He is in the midst of a war zone and has to deal with what has happened. Having been assigned to be the person responsible for a new mission—a secret weapons test in which weapons are to be developed to humanely deal with enemy soldiers—he never expected to face court martial. To avoid this, he agrees to become the test subject for these new soft weapons, aphrodisiac bombs that cause sexual arousal and thus distract the enemy from the battlefield. Because of a miscalculation, the bomb turns his platoon gay and he is at his wits end as to how to deal with this. He pleads to be expelled from the platoon so that he can spend his last days in his more familiar way. Instead he is sent to a “top secret barracks where the gay platoon is being held for observation and testing”. It does not take long for the side effects to take place and the Secretary of Defense, a “true Christian” sends the men on a suicide mission to the mountains of a country somewhere in the Middle East where warplanes are sent to kill them in the event that the terrain and the enemy does not succeed in doing so. Ginger wants no part of this and tries to go AWOL and discovers that this mission does not exist and when offered the chance to escape, he and the soldiers have to decide between the gay platoon and Ginger’s own past (and the soldiers”) as a loyal heterosexual Christian.

I met Gielen when I reviewed his film “Turtle Hill, Brooklyn” and he is man that deals with homosexuality with style and grace. Unlike his film, this is a book that will make you laugh and think at the same time. As he does in his films, Gielen develops his characters beautifully as he does with his plot which is filled with twists, turns and surprises. What he also does with aplomb is give us the back stories of his characters. Gielen is very clever in his use of metaphors which give the book even more meaning. The writing is clean; the plot is literate; the humor is dark and the lessons learned here, while not new, are powerful. Dealing with the military, sexuality, religion and warfare, this is a fun read that will not be easily forgotten. Gielen shows the ridicularity by which America dealt with gay soldiers before the end of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”. Through wry humor, he takes on homophobia and with sharp sarcasm lays it to rest.

 

 

 

 

 

“For Colored Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Still Not Enough: Coming of Age, Coming Out, and Coming Home” edited by Keith Boykin— Life for Men of Color

Boykin, Keith (editor). “For Colored Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Still Not Enough: Coming of Age, Coming Out, and Coming Home”, Magnus Books, 2012.

Life for Men of Color

Amos Lassen

If the title of this book sounds a little familiar then you have an idea what this book is about. Keith Boykin looks at the Black and Hispanic communities and brings us this book that is essentially “for colored boys”. However you do not have to be a member of a minority group to get the message here. The issues of homophobia, sexual abuse, suicide, HIV/AIDS and racism have been experienced by all of us at some time in our lives. It is not enough that these are issues but they are issues that have plagues us for a very long time and do not seem to be going away. Young men of color experience these issues everyday and the book presents us with true stories about coming-of-age, religion and spirituality, love and friendship and the search for identity. These are much more difficult to deal with as a double minority and in a world or community that is not accepting. In many cases the minorities form a smaller community within the larger LGBT community and we have seen that with the creation of the Black Pride movement. Sometimes they find their identity and sense of political empowerment in other places that are not part of the LGBT community.

The contributors to this anthology are African Americans, British, Latino, Asian American and Jamaican and their ages cover a 50 year span. They represent the entire geography of where we live and they come from all occupations “including students, published authors, recording artists, reality TV stars military veterans, doctors, and lawyers”. What they have to say both inspires and disgusts. We live in the greatest democracy in the world yet it is not democratic for all of its citizens and the world that we live in has yet to accept us as who we are. A book like this gives us the chance to empower ourselves and I can only hope that one day that empowerment will come naturally and not because we need to learn about the troubles of others in order to make ourselves strong.