I attended a few films on several different days of this years DC gay and lesbian film festival, which I used to sponsor (as a business) and which some years back (it just had its 20th anniversary) grew to be one of the largest film gay film festivals in the country – obviously San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles are bigger).
I always attributed DC’s gay film festival being bigger than that of Philadelphia or many other cities to its relatively large, though not always so flamboyant and visible, gay community. Why it has such a large one is an unexplored issue. Perhaps the single and childless are more likely to go into the Peace Corp or law school or political campaigns or various other venues that dump many people in DC to become bureaucrats.
I just learned though that DC has MORE independent film festivals than any other city. I had noticed that we had generic independent film festivals as well as Asian, Black, Hispanic, Green, women’s etc, etc film festivals. Apparently we have several dozen that are annual recurring events. I suspect this has something to do with the prevalence of 6 figure salaries among the tax-supported government workers in DC.
There was one year where several of the sponsors and volunteers of Reel Affirmations (the local DC fest) and its sponsoring organization, One in Ten, talked about ending our support because the festival was so bleak, with a huge number of movies featuring suicide, lovers murdering one another, or serial killers (the film Hellbent, about a serial killer taking out gays in a fun house at a Mardi Gras type celebration being the coup de gras – a film that is now shown on Logo during the week before Halloween). The programming committee informed us that that was all that had been produced; we should see, they responded, the films they rejected from the schedule!
Of course one can always veer off into the documentaries and the foreign films, or the shorts, which are often comedies (one of my favorite short films will always be Came Out, It Rained, Went Back in Again, featuring a young actress who went on to play a secretary in Absolutely Fabulous).
This year’s crop seemed to be thinner on murder, suicide and serial killers, but still bleak. Couples and communities torn apart by accusations of pedophilia against heretofore upstanding gay coaches and teachers were a theme (Au Pair, Kansas and The Green, starring Cheyenne Jackson). The pathos of AIDS epidemic hagiography was another (We Were Here). Perhaps there were some great romantic comedies in the mix, just not on the days I attended. At least now, unlike 20 years ago when Reel Affirmations started, one can catch them later that year on cable.
Is he gay or just a little too European for a small town in Middle America? That’s the question faced by Oddmund, a 26-year-old Norwegian, who arrives in Lindsborg, Kan., to work as an au pair on the bison ranch of Helen Hazelton (Traci Lords), a recently widowed mother of two sons, Atticus and Beau. Atticus is a typical teenager with a smart remark for every situation, but Beau is the shy, sensitive type. Oddmund brings a little discipline and laughter to their home. He helps Atticus befriend a sexy classmate who he’s fallen for but is afraid to approach, and helps Beau stand up to a bully. Meanwhile Helen seeks advice from her dead husband’s ghost confessing her growing attraction to Oddmund and at the same time her concern that he’s getting too close to their sons. In his mission to help Atticus and Beau, Oddmund forms a soccer team with them and a rainbow assortment of townspeople, including a butch female sherriff and a drag queen art teacher.
Dir. J.T. O’Neal, 2011, USA, 103 mins