The Sundance and Slamdance Film Festivals starts up today, and there’s a ton of gay stuff, as per usual. Here’s a rundown of what you should check out at Park City, or follow after the fests are over and distributors pick them up. (Best case scenario!)
Lesbian filmmaker Dee Rees first created Pariah as a short, but was awarded funds from the Sundance Film Institute to develop her story into a full-length feature. This year, she debuts the film in its entirety, which follows a black Brooklyn stud who is trying to figure herself out — sexually and otherwise. Pariah is screening as part of the U.S. Dramatic Competition.
My Idiot Brother is one of the biggest premieres at Sundance this year, with an all-star cast including Rashida Jones and Zooey Deschanel playing a lesbian couple. The film follows Ned (Paul Rudd), who is a total loser but attempts to rekindle his relationship with his sisters (Deschanel, Elizabeth Banks and Emily Mortimer). Director Jess Peretz is an acclaimed music video maker, and was also behind the short lesbian-themed film, Who I Am.
Queer filmmaker/artist Miranda July is also premiering a film this year called The Future, her follow-up to You, Me and Everyone We Know, which was a huge Sundance favorite in 2005. It doesn’t appear to have any gay content, but she stars in the movie about a couple who adopt a cat they become increasingly obsessed with, losing sight of anything else in their lives.
Madeleine Olnek’s Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same follows “the
adventures of lesbian space aliens on the planet Earth, and the story of the romance between Jane, a shy greeting card store employee, and Zoinx, the woman Jane does not realize is from outer space.” The film will screen as part of Park City at Midnight and is Olnek’s third film to screen at Sundance. Olnek gave us some insight on her black and white film (which she said was “to refer both to old science fiction films from the 1950s and to early indy lesbian flicks like Go Fish.)”
”Approaching work on this movie, I knew the shoot was going to be difficult,” Olnek said. “ We were going to be shooting outside, even on the beach, in frigid NY winter weather — so I wanted to ask people I knew trusted my work. I always ask my friend Dennis Davis, a great actor who is loathe to miss his Japanese class. So there is a lot of begging, etc,” she said of the casting process. “My friend Susan Ziegler, who played Zoinx, is an actress in L.A., and she found her own lodging and flew out to be in the movie. Lisa Haas, who plays Zoinx’s girlfriend Jane, is another excellent comic actor I’ve worked with previously. To that ensemble we added some wonderful performers, including out-comedienne Jackie Monahan (who I had seen on some online comic videos called Housewives With Attitude) and recent indy star Alex Karpovsky (Tiny Furniture).”
As for what she hopes will happen for the film at Sundance, she said, “I think films can take people through an experience in a profound way that almost goes beyond words. That’s the power of it. For us telling stories about love between women, we can take the prerogative that other storytellers have afforded themselves for centuries: not to explain, not to convince, but rather simply and deeply examine a life on screen.”
Christine Vachon will be debuting Killer Films new Killer Digital, the online venture in which the production company shows film work via Massify.com. Christine will also be on a panel offered by cineGLAAD. Beginning Friday, panels include The E-Cinema Migration: Is the Internet Reshaping Film?, Generation in Crisis: LGBT Youth in Film and the Media, Co-hosted by the SAG LGBT Actors Committee and a cocktail reception. Other panelists include the other filmmakers with LGBT-themed films this year, including Madeleine Olnek, Dee Rees and Erica Dunton.
Dunton’s film, to.get.her, is about five young women who are best friends and one of them is a lesbian (played by Audrey Speicher.) The women are all 17, and decide to get out of town before their graduate high school. Unfortunately, they get into some trouble, and someone gets killed.
Out director Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don’t Cry, Stop-Loss) will be on the judging panel for the U.S. Dramatic Category. Other judges include director Jason Reitman, film critics Todd McCarth and David Gordon Green, cinematographer Tim Orr and America Ferrera.
Over at Slamdance, Last Fast Ride follows the life and demise of bisexual punk musician Marian Anderson. Director Lilly Scourtis Ayers put together the documentary, which is narrated by Henry Rollins. Marian was the frontwoman for the San Francisco-based band INSAINTS and was infamously involved in an arrest for “lewd and lascivious conduct” involving “two other women and a banana.” But Marian, before she died of a heroin overdose in 1998, managed to make a huge impact on the Bay Area scene, and other women who have grabbed a mic and let go of their inhibitions since.
Sundance and Slamdance have very queer histories, and have seen several lesbian and gay-themed films and out directors, so this year should be no different. If any of these films end up as successful as past Sundance award-winners like Desert Hearts, Precious, The Life and Times of Harvey Milk, Paris is Burning, The Celluloid Closet and High Art.
Will you be in Park City this week?