Quality of gay films draws more viewers
By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainment Editor
"In the last five years, there's been a huge change in gay and lesbian films, which used to be mostly small films independently produced," Bryant said. "But with more visibility in the gay and lesbian community, some of the larger studios are making better quality films, which distributors are picking up. Many show in mainstream theaters; it's been harder for us to find titles before the theater does."
Still, Bryant has assembled 16 features and shorts for the annual festival, a magnet for the gay community with more than 75 percent of the patronage and support coming from gays and lesbians.
"The (straight) community usually comes to our monthly screenings, particularly when we show films with themes of reducing homophobia and bringing awareness," he said. "We like it when (heterosexuals) take part; many are parents and friends of gays."
Bryant said he assumed leadership of the festival several years ago "to help give the gay community another social event that is not based around the club scene. A lot of gay couples are old men and lesbians who don't do the club thing. The art academy is safe and intimate."
The opening-night gala includes a reception that precedes the screening of "The Wedding Video," with cast members present. The actors, formerly of MTV's "Real World," include Norm Korpi, the first of the reality series subjects to "come out," and the film is a spoof of reality TV, with Korpi staging a gay wedding.
His favorite entry is "The Trip," about a Republican writer in the '70s/'80s who is against the gay and lesbian rights movement but eventually falls in love with a gay rights activist at the height of controversies involving Harvey Milk, Anita Bryant and HIV outbreaks.
But he said "Iron Ladies" in Thai, with English subtitles might be the audience pleaser. Based on fact, "Ladies" is about a Thai volleyball team composed of transsexuals and transgender gays who win the championship, much to the chagrin of the government. "As a gay man, it makes you feel really good at the end succeeding over the government," Bryant said.
- 5:30 p.m. opening-night reception followed by films at 7:30 p.m.:
"The Wedding Video" (2002 video, USA, 90 minutes; directors Norman Korpi and Clint Cowen): Norm, who's marrying Sky, a guy, hires a videographer to film everything leading up to the big day.
"The Wedding Video" is preceded by "Size 'Em Up" (2002 video, USA, 15 minutes; director Christine Russo) Teen jock Samantha finds herself in the hands of three "bra ladies," who teach her a few things.
- 6 p.m. "Trembling Before G-d" (2000, USA, 84 minutes; director Sandi Simcha DuBowski): Winner of the Teddy Award for Best Documentary at the Berlin Film Festival, Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary at OUTFEST Los Angeles. A look at a group of gay or lesbian Hasidic or Orthodox Jews who face the dilemma of their faith vs. biblical prohibitions against homosexuality.
- 8 p.m. "The Monkey's Mask" (2001, Australia, 93 minutes; director Samantha Lang): A street-smart lesbian private detective investigates the disappearance of a female student. Starring Kelly McGillis as the student's seductive teacher.
"The Monkey's Mask" is preceded by "4 p.m." (2002, UK, 15 minutes; director Samantha Bakhurst). Belinda and Jenna's one-night stand takes a different turn when Jenna is accidentally locked in Belinda's flat.
- 2 p.m. A mixed plate of shorts, including:
"Rick and Steve" and Fisher-Price toys (2001, USA, 40 minutes; director Allan Brocka).
"Tango Para Dos" dance class students compete for the attention of a buff young man at a gym (2001, USA, 8 minutes; director John O'Neal).
"Cyberslut" the bar as a meeting place (2002, USA, 8 minutes; director Jon Gann).
"Ten Rules/A Lesbian Survival Guide" the title says it all (2001, USA, 28 minutes; director Lee Friedlander).
"Glaadiator" A Roman emperor, who has dedicated his reign to destroying homosexuality, has a change of heart on his deathbed, opposed by his homophobic son Eminemus (2001, USA, 9 minutes; director L. Percel).
- 4 p.m. "Ke Kulana He Mahu: Remembering a Sense of Place" (2001, USA, 70 minutes; directors Kathryn Xian and Brent Anbe). Hawai'i filmmakers focus in on Honolulu's mahu community, covering aspects such as transgendered club shows and hula halau and HIV. This film made its Hawai'i debut at the 2001 Hawai'i International Film Festival.
"Ke Kulana He Mahi" is preceded by "Sina Off the Chain" (2001 video, USA and Samoa, 3 minutes; director Dan Taulapapa McMullin) Sina fantasizes about taxi drivers and San Francisco.
- 6 p.m. "M.O. of M.I. (Modus Operandi of Male Intimacy)" (2002, USA, 96 minutes; director Susan Turley): A dangerous con game ensues after a sexy drifter lands in the home of a loving gay couple.
- 8 p.m. "The Trip" (2000 video, USA, 92 minutes; director Miles Swain): The tale begins in 1973 as a "radical homosexual" activist (Steve Braun) and a "straight" Nixon Republican (Larry Sullivan) meet and become more than friends. Also featuring Jill St. John, the film blends tragedy and farce in a trip through time.
- 4 p.m. "Daddy and Papa" (2002 video, USA, 57 minutes; director Johnny Symons): A documentary on gay fatherhood, this film examines the effects on children, the dilemma of white fathers raising African American kids, and more. Winner of the Golden Gate Award, First Person Documentary category, of the 2002 San Francisco International Film Festival. Free.
"Oliver Button is a Star" (2001 video, USA, 57 minutes; director John Scagliotti): A "docu-performance" that explores bullying, acceptance and positive alternatives for expressing children's gender differences. Free.
- 6 p.m.: "Treading Water" (2001, USA, 95 minutes; director Lauren Himmel): Set in a small New England town, this is the story of a longshorewoman and her partner whose lives are complicated by her more-conventional family. Director Himmel will make an appearance.
"Treading Water" will be preceded by "Breaking Up Really Sucks" (2001, USA, 11 minutes; director Jennifer McGlone) "Girl meets girl, girls move in together, girl loses girl, girl meets another girl."
- 8 p.m. "Iron Ladies" (2001, Thailand, 104 minutes; director Yongyoot Thongkongtoon): This film made its Honolulu debut at the 2001 spring festival of the Hawai'i International Film Festival. It's based on the true story of a volleyball team composed mostly of transsexuals, transvestites and effeminate gay guys who won the Thai male national championship in 1996.
"Iron Ladies" is preceded by "Jeffrey's Hollywood Screen Trick" (2002, USA, 11 minutes; director Todd Downing) An animated film that satirizes the recent spate of gay romantic comedies.