Secretly, I was nervous. Holding a stack of screeners for S.B.’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Film Festival, I prepared myself to watch some pretty bad movies. Don’t get me wrong-films with a gay theme have just as much potential to be good as they do to be bad, but in the same way that the initial years of talkies were rough or the first musicals weren’t the best productions, it can be rocky in the early years of any niche filmmaking.
Fortunately, no one need be afraid: The 16th annual fest-which starts tonight, Thursday, November 1, and runs through Sunday, November 4-is full of excellent films ranging from tragic love stories to funny coming-out narratives to poignant tales of self-discovery. The film creating far and away the most buzz, however, is Dan Karslake’s For the Bible Tells Me So, a documentary that examines how the Bible intersects with homosexuality. Executive producers Keith Lewis and Robin Voss, Pastor Steve Kindle of Clergy United for the Equality of Homosexuals, Dr. Bob Cornwall of Lompoc’s First Christian Church, and Reverend Mark Asman of Santa Barbara’s Trinity Episcopal Church will discuss the film after its screening. It truly should not be missed.
For a complete schedule of events, visit outrageousfilmfestival.org.
The Saddest Boy in the World
Think the aesthetics of But I’m a Cheerleader and the bone-dry wit of Wes Anderson and you’ve got this 14-minute gem by Jaime Travis. Timothy Higgins plans on celebrating his ninth birthday by hanging himself, but before he does, he remembers when he was kidnapped and his mother couldn’t afford the ransom (“She is a single mother after all,” he apologetically explains) and when his kitten ran away right after his best friend, who couldn’t speak English, was deported. You’ll laugh, realize you think death and depression are humorous, stop laughing because you feel guilty, and then start laughing again because you just can’t help yourself.
This coming-of-age story about Sara (Ver³nica S¡nchez)-a sheltered young girl who catches her boyfriend cheating on her and ends up joining an all-female punk rock band hoping to sign its first record deal-is set in newly democratic Spain’s El Calentito, a bar/music club run by a transvestite. When fascists manage to pull off a coup d’etat, the bar and the band’s future are in jeopardy.
For the Bible Tells Me So
Director Daniel G. Karslake’s filmic debut is nothing short of spectacular. This documentary illustrates how Christian conservatives have co-opted the Bible to foster prejudice and misunderstanding about homosexuality. Many biblical scholars and church leaders explain how certain verses are taken out of context because laypeople fail to understand the complex social and political context in which the verses were written. Karslake’s real triumph, however, is his examination of five families with gay and lesbian children (including Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop, and Chrissy Gephardt, daughter of former Missouri Democratic Representative Dick Gephardt), who represent the gamut of responses: Some families fully accept their homosexual children, some don’t recognize their child’s relationships as valid, and others take the activist route, even getting arrested for protesting. This is more than entertainment; to view this film is to be a responsible human being.
My First Time Driving
After getting grounded for smoking, a freshly licensed 16-year-old girl tries to sneak out of the house, but, once she’s caught, she digs a hole in the backyard and sleeps there in protest. During the ensuing battle of wills, she is confronted by her mother-in poem form, no less-about being gay. What’s a car-less girl to do about trying to celebrate her girlfriend’s birthday? Writer Liz Feldman is invited to attend the showing.
Set in modern-day Tel Aviv, The Bubble is the ridiculously good-looking gay man’s answer to Romeo and Juliet. Noam, who serves part-time with the Israeli army, meets Palestinian Ashraf while on border detail, and their immediate attraction is “explosive,” a term that quickly signifies the differing worlds from which they come-Noam describes good sex as explosive, but Ashraf only understands the term in relation to weaponry and suicide bombers. Set against an American indie music lover’s dream soundtrack (think Bright Eyes, Nada Surf, and Belle & Sebastian), this beautifully shot film deals with the complexities of political realities and human sexuality. And you’ll probably never touch your eyebrow nonchalantly again.
The endearing relationship between skater/surfer/street artist Zach and his five-year-old nephew, Cody, anchors this sweet coming-of-age story set in Northern California. The summer quickly gets dicey when Zach’s best friend’s brother, Shaun, visits from Los Angeles after dissolving a relationship there. As Zach realizes his attraction to Shaun, he struggles with a desire to “be everything” for his longtime girlfriend, who has long had her suspicions about him. A homophobic sister is the only damper on this otherwise affirmative tale of sexual discovery. Festival organizers-appropriately so-market this film as “the feel-good movie of 2007.” Director Jonah Markowitz is invited to attend the screening.
Itty Bitty Titty Committee
Jaime Babbit, who became every lesbian’s favorite film director with 1999’s But I’m a Cheerleader and stayed in those good graces by directing an episode of The L Word, went revolutionary with this polemic against all things mainstream. Anna, a recent high school grad and out lesbian, is brokenhearted after her girlfriend leaves her. At the end of her workday as a receptionist in a breast augmentation clinic, she runs into Sadie, who is spray-painting the office’s windows. Intrigued by the attractive blonde, Anna joins Sadie’s revolutionary feminist group, Clits In Action, and embarks on a wild ride of self-discovery-not about her sexuality, but about her place in the world of protest and politics. Although the attraction between the two main characters isn’t that compelling, the refreshing concept of a gay film not about coming out cancels out its other shortcomings. Babbit and producer Andrea Sperling are invited to attend the showing.
Dr. Finn Jeffries is a fertility specialist in Toronto who works at an abortion clinic her recently deceased partner used to run. Struggling to raise their 11-year-old daughter, Zelly, and avert daily death threats that result from her work at the clinic, Finn is often caught in the middle of being a parent and a doctor. Salty-tongued Zelly-played with stark honesty by Maya Ritter-gets in all sorts of trouble that, because of Finn’s absence, leads her to want to live with her dad. But the relationship between Zelly and Finn is more intricate than it seems, making their resolution imperative.
The 16th annual Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Film Festival presents OUTrageous 2007 on Thursday, November 1-Sunday, November 4, at Metro 4 Theatre (618 State St.). Screenings are $10, but a festival pass, which includes Saturday’s reception, is $70. Visit outrageousfilmfestival.org.