See, I’d always wanted to attend the Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival. I had an inkling of an opportunity a few years ago at the 15th event. Alas, I was overworked and underpaid at the time, like most people my age.
So this year, I jumped at the chance. An avid film lover and nearly a film major in school, film fests have always been near and dear. I decided only to go to the femme-centric pieces. Because frankly, guys get enough coverage [insert crude joke here]. Women in the media are finally making significant headway over the past few years. Who knows? This may end up being the Decade of the Woman (#HeForShe). And about time, too.
And can I just say, for the record, it is FAN-FUCKING-TASTIC to see the Egyptian theater open again? Seriously, the place is gorgeous and should stay open forever.
I’m sitting at the Comet drinking a rum and coke. It’s Friday, on the Hill. Not my scene anymore. But I did just come from Born to Fly, an excellent piece regarding the work of Elizabeth Streb. Having grown up in her hometown, I was shocked I hadn’t heard of her before now. The film was wonderfully as vibrant as she is, detailing her career as an out-of-the-box choreographer from the 1970s to the 2010 Olympics in London. Completely fascinating! What do I hope to glean from the few film events I can attend? Maybe we’re seeing a positive evolution of the festival? No longer is queer film just coming out stories, sexless pandering to the heteros, and erotica; now we’re getting more stories where “queer” or being LGBTQ is an afterthought. As if to say, “Oh hey, look at this awesome person or weird situation…and s/he is also gay.” Gone are the sensationalized “and he’s GAY!!” moments. Good or bad change? You decide.
Off to the “Crossroads” shorts program. In a smattering of lezzbehonest stories, we have a zombie apocalypse, a possible trailer for a bigger project, the typical “pretty” couple, wish fulfillment fantasy, and an intensely personal situation. “Crosswalk” director Alexis Stratton was there, along with Skyler Cooper of “Hero Mars.” The two were available for questions after the screening, and more than willing to talk about the film industry. Backdrop: “Hero Mars” is a story about a woman who reminds you of a Shakespearean cross between Tracy Chapman and Michonne from The Walking Dead. She practically gets laughed out of an acting class, but a young woman coaxes her into revealing more personality. I asked Ms. Cooper, “Was it painful to present such a personal situation, or was it a calling to show it to the world?” She replied, “It was a calling.” Bravo.
Fast forward to Wednesday, and I’m in to see Appropriate Behavior. This was by far my favorite! Laughing amidst a diversely aged audience, this piece was poignant, smart, witty, and hilariously well written. This writer sincerely hopes to see it widely released in theaters everywhere. The main character is bisexual, so that probably adds appeal to a broader spectrum of people, but the premise is something we can all relate to: How to get over an ex. And all of the awkwardness that ensues.
There’s a distinctly different vibe/energy when you attend a SLGFF movie at the AMC downtown. It’s like the festival is legitimate or something, not just relegated to art houses and newly re-opened theaters. Come Friday, and I just HAD to see Match. Why? Sir Patrick Stewart! Duh! Such a brilliant film. The director and one of the lead actors were there. The theater was nearly packed to the gills of every manner of human, 25-80 yrs. old, and I could see why. Based on a play, the dialogue was outstanding, honest, and sensitive. If you didn’t see it, please try to the next chance you get. I felt the strong need to stand on my chair, saying, “O Captain, my captain,” even though that’s reserved for Robin Williams at the moment. (Too soon?)
I had just enough time to pick up a slushie and Cookie Dough Bites before the next show, the “Together Forever” short directly before Happy Ending?!. The crew of the short showed up to chat about their project, which is a refreshing, simple, “here’s a couple that’s just in love and happy, and their journey to a wedding.” The feature-length sequel, Brides to Be, is in the works, complete with a “bachelorette party” at the WildRose on Oct. 30 to help fund the film. The crew was awesome to talk to, being local and all. And the actual following feature? Erm. Kind of a cross between Thelma and Louise and Every Lifetime Movie Ever. That alone should be enough to tell you the plot twist. I was OK with most of it, but then a few parts made me roll my eyes and cringe. But again, the “I’m gay” was an afterthought, as with much of what I’d seen. Have I mentioned that the “Wolfe” bumper/logo is the worst ever? Has it even changed in 30 years?
Receptions and galas…they’re really all the same. If you want to chat with the filmmakers over some cocktails, or do some networking, go right ahead. But the films are the reason for the SLGFF season. Happy Coming Out Day, and Happy Gay History Month. This might actually become Happy Equal Marriage Month in the future, given the recent legal action across the red states. What we are seeing, here, folks, is an evolution, both in society and media. Yeah, kind of in an X-Men way. Discuss.
All in all, we’re seeing some great strides in female/lesbian filmmaking, ladies. I encourage Reel Girls and anyone out there with the passion for the craft to try your hand at it. Maybe we’ll see lesbians/bi women at the forefront of a major release sometime in the coming generation? Please yes.