Monday, October 15, 2007

SAG visits Reel Affirmations at DC GLBT shorts presentation

Tonight (Monday, October 15, 2007), Reel Affirmations 17 held (at the Lincoln Theater in Washington DC) a free showing of some short films by DC area filmmakers, followed by a panel discussion with Chad Tyler from the Screen Actor’s Guild and three local filmmakers. The focus of the discussion was SAG and GLBT issues. Generally, professional actors are expected to be comfortable playing gay and straight roles regardless of their own sexual orientation. SAG has a variety of low budget film programs, starting with the Short Film Agreement, the Ultra Low Budget Agreement, and on upward with various budget limits and requirements for theatrical releases (usually platform releases) on the higher levels. Check the Sagindie site.

The short films program consisted of these films:

GLLU Unit – a documentary about the Gay and Lesbian unit of the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department.

Offline (dir. Gant) – a shy man is accompanied by a friend to a fern bar and ordered to meet people. He succeeds, over a spilled drink. The film simulates Myspace in the real world with CGI screen name tags for the characters.

Brian the Gnome Slayer 4 (2007, dir. Brian Tosko and Flip Vanevski, 11 min) is the fourth in this shorts franchise, and it comes across as a cross between NBC’s “Heroes” and “Chuck,” gay style. There is one scene in front of the Lincoln Theater and in the parking lot.

The First Lesson I Learned (2007, dir Ian Cook, 7 min) has an elderly gay man recalling an elementary school lesson where he was asked to draw a circle and an X and humiliated by the teacher because the cross would not fit into the imperfect circle. He would not fit in. I remember getting berated in grade school for drawing pumpkins as red, because I liked the longer wave length color. “Pumpkins are orange,” the teacher insisted. I was made to sit in the Red Chair. The teacher also divided the class into Brownies and Elves, and I was a Brownie (the term did not refer to race, just a general sense of social awkwardness; I am Caucasian).

House Guest (2007, dir. Michael Chiplock, 7 min) A roommate knocks on the door late at night, disrupting a straight couple’s sleep with a revelation. Outside, an angry pursuer asks, “how much f—money do you have.” That has really happened.

Talk To Me (2004, dir. Spencer C. Parker, 4 min) has two gay male twins talking, following the concordance of Chandler Burr’s “A Separate Creation.”

The Preacher and the Poet (2007, dir. Spencer C. Lewis, 12 min) balances an anti-gay sermon at the “Million More” march in Washington with an African American gay man’s
poem. This is no “poet and peasant overture.” The preacher reminds me of Farrakan with his 1995 Million Man March.

I stayed for the show, and there was one more short:

My Last Ten Hours With You
(2007, dir. Sophie Hyde, wr. Matthew Cormack, Australia, 15 min). Two gay men, one of them tattooed, have a fling in a South Australia beach house on their last night before the break up. Joel Mcllroy, Toby Schmitz.

The feature that followed as My Super 8 Season (“Ma Saison Super 8,” 2005, Du Contraire / Anitprod, dir. Alessandro Avellis, France, 71 min), which seems to take off where Bernardo Bertolucci’s “The Dreamers” (2004, Fox Searchlight) left off with the labor riots in France in 1968, and presents a fast moving love polygon (partly gay) among left wing activists over the years. The film title refers to the “Super 8” shots made by one of the characters, as if to refer back to the film context of the Bertolucci opus.

Update: Oct. 16, 2007

On Tuesday there were two "long short" about gay parenting. First, Queer Spawn (2005, dir. Anna Boluda, USA/Spain, 30 min) interviews a number of teenage kids adopted by gay male and lesbian couples. The film comes to a climax with a depiction of "Family Week" in Provincetown, MA. One of the couples was finally legally married in MA. Another lived just outside Austin TX and the parents of neighboring kids tended to shun them. A NYC gay male couple adopted a Hispanic boy and named him Christopher, after a famous street in Greenwich Village, and got the boy into a charter school because they met a diversity quota. The second film was In My Shoes: Stories of Youth with LGBT Parents (2005, Collage, dir. Jen Gilomen, 31 min) was similar (if a little grainier in photography). One California lesbian couple was married and then the marriage was dissolved after Gavin Newsome's order was reversed; the teenage daughter fought for her mother in court. Both films mentioned that most states allow only single parent adoption in theory (even if the couple and kids live as a family); if the couple breaks up or the adopter dies, the other partner may have no rights to see the child.

There is an interesting YouTube film "Parental Instinct: a Film on Gay Parents Through Surrogacy" (2006)" dir. Murray Nossel.

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