News, Wit & Commentary for Lesbians
JIC Post:By Shauna SchwartzAfterEllen.comMore than 3,000 feature films—nearly half of them from outside the U.S.—were submitted for consideration at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival. 120 features and 80 short films made the cut and will screen during the 10-day festival, which begins on January 19.This year shows an upward trend in the number of submissions overall as well as in the number of women directors who will have their work screened. Festival director Geoffrey Gilmore recently told Variety that in the past, female filmmakers have been best represented in the documentary category, but the 32 women featured in this year’s festival are better distributed among competition categories.The 2006 festival will also include a considerable number of films with queer content and/or made by queer filmmakers. Most are centered on gay men, but the other initials in LGBT are also represented.The opening night gala on January 20th will mark the U.S. premiere of a British film, Kinky Boots, about a chance encounter between a drag queen and a man who has just inherited the family shoe-making business. Cabaret star Lola (Chiwetel Ejiofor—Love Actually, Dirty Pretty Things) is on a quest for man-sized fashion footwear of a feminine sort, and Charlie (Joel Edgerton—King Arthur, Star Wars: Episode II) sees an opportunity to save his struggling factory by introducing a unique new line of shoes.What looks to be this year’s only bisexual woman/ lesbian-themed dramatic feature comes from writer/director Maria Maggenti (The Incredibly True Adventures of Two Girls in Love). Her new film, Puccini for Beginners, focuses on a young Manhattanite who is on the rebound from a lesbian relationship when she takes up two new affairs, one with another woman, the other with a man. Described as a “bisexual romantic farce,” Puccini for Beginners stars Gretchen Mol, who has the title role in the upcoming The Notorious Life of Bettie Page, co-written by Guinevere Turner (The L Word, Go Fish). The film also stars Justin Kirk (Showtime’s Weeds).The documentary side of the competition will feature the world premiere of Small Town Gay Bar, directed by Malcolm Ingram (Drawing Flies). The film journeys into the deep South to document a gay community surviving and thriving in the midst of ignorance, hypocrisy, and outright oppression.The documentary competition will also include Wrestling with Angels: Playwright Tony Kushner, a tribute to the activist/auteur best known for his multiple Emmy-Award winning mini-series, Angels in America.Another documentary, All Aboard: Rosie’s Family Cruise, is about a cruise company geared toward gay and lesbian parents and their kids that was started in 2004 by Rosie O’Donnell and her partner Kelli O’Donnell. The Sundance screening will be the film’s world premiere.Although details are not yet available, the festival will also showcase plenty of short films with queer content. These will reportedly include Bugcrush, by multi-talented filmmaker/music video director/professional photographer/videographer/actor Carter Smith. This short horror film is described as “an innocent high school crush that turns sinister,” and is based on a short story of the same name by Scott Treleaven.Mind Over Matter; Hello, Thanks; and First Date are three more shorts reported to have gay male content.Range is the latest from transgender director Bill Basquin, whose short films are consistently subtle and rich with subtext.Another one of the few lesbian-themed entries in the festival is the short film Hold Up, made as a Columbia University student film, and the short What I Love About Dying, directed by Silas Howard, who co-wrote, -directed and -starred along with Harriet Dodge in By Hook or by Crook, a feature-length film about a small-town butch lesbian who heads to San Francisco and befriends another drifter/grifter/sexual outlaw.The 2006 festival will also feature several films that don’t necessarily have gay content but are made by filmmakers who are of particular interest to queer audiences. Quinceañera is a coming-of-age film from gay writer/director team Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland (Fluffer), focusing on a group of Latino teens in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles.The Night Listener is a film based on the novel of the same name by Armistead Maupin (Tales of the City). Robin Williams stars as Gabriel Noone, a PBS radio show host whose longtime partner has left him for another man. Over the phone Noone befriends an HIV-positive teenaged boy who is a survivor of multiple forms of sexual abuse and is Noone’s number-one fan. The film also stars Toni Colette (The Hours, Muriel’s Wedding) and Sandra Oh (Sideways).Openly bisexual actress Joey Lauren Adams (Dazed and Confused, Mallrats) will enjoy her debut as a writer/director with Come Early Morning, starring Ashley Judd, about a small-town woman who finds herself unable to commit to a serious relationship. Adams is best known for her lead role in Kevin Smith’s controversial Chasing Amy as a lesbian who falls in love with a fellow comic book artist (Ben Affleck).Wild Tigers I Have Known is a coming-of-age story about a 13-year-old boy and his unrequited love for the most popular kid at school. The feature film is directed by 24-year-old indie-film sensation Cam Archer, a Santa Cruz-based filmmaker known for experimental but accessible short films.British director Isaac Julien (Young Soul Rebels) has two short films in competition: Fantome Afrique and True North. Writer/director Jennie Livingston (Paris is Burning, Who’s the Top?) has a new short film that will screen in this year’s festival—Through the Ice—about a man who drowned in 2003 after falling into the frozen lake in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park.The Sundance Film Festival has a long history of screening fine independent films that cause feeding frenzies among the many distribution companies in attendance. Of course, the award-winners garner immediate attention, but even before the prizes are awarded, some films—such as Go Fish—find themselves at the center of bidding wars, and are picked up for distribution before the festival even comes to a close.Many others make the festival circuit rounds for the remainder of the year, giving a wider viewing audience access to quality work, regardless of whether it’s eventually released theatrically. Hopefully many of the films mentioned here will see these kinds of success.
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