by John Howard, Justin Claire, Jackie Fingerhut, Stephen Leljedal, Brendan Cahill, Sam Angarita and Alex Rogala
Last week, for ten days, the Rochester lesbian and gay film festival, ImageOUT, invaded various Rochester venues. Among the stops was the Ingle Auditorium which welcomed six screenings of six different lesbian and gay themed films, three of these were free and open to the student body. If for some unfortunate reason you weren’t able to make it, here’s a quick look at what you missed.
“Watercolors” follows the burgeoning romance of two high school boys, the good boy artist Danny (played by Tye Olson) and the bad boy swimmer with a drug problem, Carter (played by Kyle Clare).
The film has good intentions, but is unfortunately hampered by melodramatic dialogue and an often-weak performance by Olson. Clare gives a solid turn as Carter, but can’t save the story from cliché drama and predictable plot points. Many of the minor characters come off as if they could have been omitted, along with about 30 minutes of the entire film. There is something here to appreciate, but it’s buried under too much to be really enjoyed.
“Zombie Prom,” a series of short films, showcases the emotional ups and downs of dealing with cultural adversity as a teenager. The first six films (“Dish,” “Recess,” “Lipstick,” “The Yellow Tent,” “Girl Talk,” and “Raw Love”) center around the challenges of
The characters’ emotional pain is played out on screen in an artistic fashion. The title short, “Zombie Prom”, is a musical about a young man hurt by love who jumps into a nuclear reactor and returns as a zombie. He, just like those characters in the first set of films, takes steps to overcome adversity and gain the approval of society. Overall, these were seven successful art house-styled films.
Amancio: Two Faces on a Tombstone
“Amancio: Two Faces on a Tombstone” is a documentary film detailing both the 2005 murder of Amancio Corrales, a gay man from Yuma, Ariz. and community efforts to find his killer.
The movie depicted the sorrow suffered by Amancio’s friends and family quite thoroughly, as most of them tearfully recalled their memories of him (particularly his excellent portrayals while performing in drag). However, even though the movie’s focus was on combating local prejudice to see justice served, it didn’t really say if the town’s opinions towards homosexuals had improved after Amancio’s murderer was jailed. Despite that, it is a feel-good story overall.
Showgirls, Provincetown, MA
Anyone who’s been to Provincetown, Massachusetts will attest to how unique the town is. “Showgirls, Provincetown, MA” explores this uniqueness, delving into the world of Ryan Landry and his Showgirls, a raunchy variety show and a summer staple in Provincetown.
Director C. Fitz does an excellent job translating the atmosphere of Provincetown on screen. Her camera work is fast and upbeat, and the editing keeps things moving along at a brisk pace. Of course, the real stars here are the characters; Ryan Landry and his acting troupe, the Gold Dust Orphans, keep the laughs coming with their unique brand of humor, making “Showgirls” a must see.
Dee Mosbacher and Fawn Yacker’s “Training Rules” unveil a story of morality, ethics and even politics. The film tackles the social issue of homophobia in the world of sports, focusing on the Penn State Lady Lions women’s basketball team and coach Rene Portland’s once enforced “no lesbians” policy which kept well-skilled basketball players off the team.
As documentaries often go, the film will narrowly expose what should be digested as a greater concern: the sad-but-true exclusion of a person just because of something they identify themselves as. Mosbacher and Yacker get to the pit of the ethical and moral implications of the situation that, though still prominent, is being fought at some scale, if only one movie ticket at a time.
for my wife…
The 2008 documentary “for my wife...” follows Charlene Strong’s rise to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights activism in the aftermath of the December 2006 flood in Seattle, Wash. that claimed the life of Kate Fleming, her partner of nine years. After being denied the right to visit Fleming on her deathbed, Strong gained national attention after her 2007 testimony in front of the Washington State Legislature in support of SB 5336, a bill guaranteeing certain rights for individuals in domestic partnerships.
Aesthetically, “for my wife...” achieves a balance between artistic filmmaking and conveying a deliberate message, evoking the emotion in the last hours of Fleming’s life. The film draws on interviews, clips of Strong’s numerous television appearances, her testimony and a birthday message Fleming had recorded for her shortly before dying. Compared to some of the lighter films of the festival, “for my wife...” was both a somber memorial of the past and a call to action, something that made it all the more worthy.