The independent film market has certainly taken note of the gay marriage debate, although one might have seen even more activity and on a larger scale by now.
One of the more important films is “Tying the Knot” (2004, distributed by Roadside Attractions, Docudrama dir. Jim de Seve, 87 min). The DVD, full screen, gives some history of attempts to gain recognition back to the early 1970s (when George McGovern had to answer questions in the 1972 campaign) and points out some of the most serious problems today, as when blood relatives try to sunder a will after one partner dies, or when (as in Tampa FL) the female spouse of a female police officer cannot get pension benefits. The pension situation, as it played out in Ocean County, NJ, also was the subject of a 40-minute docudrama Freeheld, dir. by Cynthia Wade. The de Seve film is accompanied by informative panel discussions at both Newfest and the NYC Tribeca Film Festival. He says that the film cost $400,000 to make. It also has a short “Boston May 24, 2004” about the judiciary “victory” in Massachusetts, the first state to formally recognize gay marriage.
A smaller film is “I Can’t Marry You” (2004, F.Y.I. Productions, dir. Catherine Gray), which advances many of the same arguments on both sides. The film presents two charismatic teenage boys raised by a lesbian couple.
Another documentary film to come soon is “Saving Marriage,” dir. John Henning and Mike Roth. Or Garriage (Brett Ryan Bonowicz) about the views of college students. These do not yet show on Netflix.
Yet, in big budget form, Hollywood seems a bit cynical. Tomorrow, “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry" (Universal, dir. Dennis Dugan) has straight men (Adam Sandler and Kevin James) in the NYFD forming a pseudo-civil-union for benefits. This is the conservatives’ pseudo-nightmare. When you worry about rights, they say, this is what you may get. (I saw it July 22.) But actually the film twists and turns on the gay marriage arguments several times, with some good old opera buffet like humor, especially in the "courtroom drama" at the end. Lance Bass makes a singing appearance.
Paramount will release the new Beowulf, in Imax 3-D and Digital 3-D, in November 2007. The director is Robert Zemeckis (Cast Away (2000))and the writers are Neil Gaimand and Roger Avary.