The Twin Cities have been cited as one of the top areas in the country for gay acceptance and visibility for many years now, but it wasn’t until 2010 that the metro area’s current film festival devoted entirely to the LGBT community kicked off.
This year’s slate comes fresh off of Minnesota’s legislation allowing the state to become the 12th in the U.S. to allow gay marriage, and indeed many of the films in the lineup this year are in a celebratory vein.
Not that the moment is confined to the Minnesota movie scene alone. The Cannes Film Festival jury, headed by Steven Spielberg, just handed the fest’s Palme d’Or to Abdellatif Kechiche’s three-hour lesbian drama Blue is the Warmest Color, a movie that boasts what are reportedly some of the steamiest same-gender sex scenes this side of, well, Alain Guiraudie’s thriller Stranger By The Lake, a no-holds-barred out of competition Cannes selection that some alleged, in its explicitness, skirted awfully close to the realm of pornography.
Cannes’ Palme coronation of Blue incited some to speculate that the choice was a political move on the jury’s part to coincide with France’s introduction of legalized same-sex marriage.
In short, there’s no shortage of filmic representation around the world for the LBGT community, which is why it’s all the sweeter that the Out Twin Cities Film Festival was included on Indiewire’s list of 10 of the most notable North American fests, alongside San Francisco’s Frameline, Los Angeles’ Outfest, and Philadelphia’s QFest.
This year’s slate justifies the hype, with more than a dozen feature films and a number of shorts justifying a series of themed days — media visibility, gender fluidity, as well as separate-but-equal evenings dedicated to males and females.
Here is a selection of some of this year’s most notable programming choices. All screenings are at the St. Anthony Main Theater:
Break Through (Wednesday, May 29 at 6 p.m.)
WCCO’s own Edward Moody is scheduled to be a guest MC for the opening night gala, where the speakers will include former Minnesota Viking Chris Kluwe and Tammy Aaberg, whose son Justin committed suicide after facing bullying in Anoka. Break Through is a look at the aftermath of the suicide of Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi, who killed himself after his roommate secretly recorded and broadcast a video of Clementi engaged in an intimate encounter with another male.
I Am Divine (Sunday, June 2 at 7:30 p.m.)
“Funded by fans, created for the fans” is the sell line of this documentary portrait of the drag queen at the center of trash legend John Waters’ universe. While the phrase “preaching to the choir” also comes to mind at that promise, I have to disclose that I myself am a member of that choir, and I Am Divine is easily one of the most entertaining things I’ve seen all year so far, thanks to the participation of almost every person within Waters’ fold — Mink Stole, Tab Hunter, Ricki Lake, and many more. Director Jeffrey Schwarz will be on hand for a Q&A.
Interior. Leather Bar. (Saturday, June 1 at 10:30 p.m.)
Let’s get this out of the way first: James Franco is a poser, a tease and a flatterer. Few other allegedly straight celebrities have gone further out of their way to seek the approval of the gay community, and Interior. Leather Bar. may be the coup de grâce of his mission to be the gayest movie star alive. Working in collaboration with director Travis Mathews (whose I Want Your Love is one of the most heralded gay films of recent years), Franco’s film speculates on what the 40 minutes supposedly edited from William Friedkin’s still controversial 1980 thriller Cruising would’ve been comprised of. He and Mathews work to recreate the explicit footage and spout off at amusingly tiresome length about sexual representation. A must for artsploitation snobs, and an even bigger must for those who have bottomless reserves of bad faith.
Jobriath a.d. (Saturday, June 1 at 6:15 p.m.)
Presented with the collaboration of Sound Unseen, Jobriath tells the story of the “world’s first openly gay rock star,” a man for whom the careers of Queen, the Pet Shop Boys and Elton John all arguably owe a debt of gratitude toward. And so does Jerry Brandt, the publicist who thrust him into the pink limelight. Or vice versa. Or neither, as the documentary fronts the argument that the music world just wasn’t quite ready for a personality as openly flamboyant as Jobriath. You’re left wondering whether the same would be true today. Director Kieran Turner will be present for a Q&A.
No Look Pass (Sunday, June 2 at 7:30 p.m.)
The Minnesota Lynx are sponsoring this screening and director Melissa Johnson will be present for a Q&A following her documentary about a Burmese immigrant who is making a name for herself at Harvard and wants to play basketball professionally in Europe. Emily “Etay” Tay faces the possibility of an arranged marriage and bonds with her fellow teammate Katie; meanwhile, the documentary boasts some thrilling game footage. Fans of sports movies should definitely check this one out.