Sunday, September 24, 2006

Two Thumbs Up, One Thumbs Down

I managed to catch 3 of the selections of the Kansas City Gay and Lesbian film festival this weekend, two of which were admirable efforts, one was total mess. 2 out of 3 is not bad I guess.

The first was the moving and well done Saint of 9/11. In the New York September 11 attacks, the first official casualty was fire department Chaplain Mychal Judge, who had just given last rites to a fallen firefighter. Father Judge was far from your average priest. A gay and out going Franciscan who delighted in wearing his Fire Department regalia and his simple robe and sandals and a recovering alcoholic, Judge remained closeted among the firefighters while being an active member of the gay community. In one of the most poignant tributes, a friend recalled when AIDS patients were treated like lepers even from Doctors and Nurses, he hugged and kissed them without fear, telling them they were still human and loved. The film traces his life in Brooklyn, his family's roots in Ireland, his early involvement with AIDS work and some of his travels. The image of firefighters carrying his limp body from the Ground Zero site is referred to as "The American Pieta". A moving, never preachy and well paced documentary that is well worth ordering from the site above or catching at a theatre.

The second hit was tonight's Small Town Gay Bar. Director Malcolm Ingram (who arrived late from his plane with the copy of the film to be shown) provides a humorous yet sometimes sobering look at the struggle of deep south rural gays to create a place where in the words of the song in "Rent" "we can be an us instead of a them". The two bars profiled and some of the now closed bars are located with in a stone's throw of Donald Wildmon's virulently anti-gay American Family Association headquarters. His son is interviewed along with the legendary Fred Phelps, baldly showing their hypocrisy and ignorance.

The owners and customers of the bars speak from the heart about their constant struggle to live their lives in a hostile land, and how these bars nby their very presence provide a sense of community. Funny, serious and ultimately uplifting, I would not be surprised if it emerges as the People's Choice among the films shown.

The miss was Broken Sky (no website found), a 2006 opus from Mexico. Two beautiful and lusty university students, Gerardo and Jonás, meet on campus and fall passionately in love. They enjoy a torrid romance until Jonás becomes obsessed with another boy and drives Gerardo away whereupon he meets another fellow.

Fine. Boy meets boy, romance is great, romance cools, they explore other relationships but find they can't totally leave the other one. But in this case,the movie goes on for 2 1/2 hours with no dialogue, maybe 5-10 works spoken. Music and some narration provide a bit of focus. The dance goes on too long, and with a predictable end. Maybe if it were an hour shorter it would have worked. But the pouting and bouncing in and out of bed with each other, even when they hated each other (supposedly) seemed pointless. In the end no one cared and no one I spoke to liked the thing. I suppose the highbrow Bi-Costal types think we are too stupid to understand. Maybe we are smart enough not to play the game. As a non-documentary a film you may have a chance to see but don't bother.

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