“Everybody made me feel like part of the family,” he said.
So it was a no-brainer for the California-based filmmaker, co-founder of Guest House Films, to use Tampa, rather than Los Angeles, as the backdrop for his seventh feature-length film, the gay murder mystery Out to Kill.
The Mission district of San Francisco is a hard-knocks Latino neighborhood with a reverence for family, low riders and machismo. When ex-con, ex-alcoholic Che (Benjamin Bratt) discovers that his beloved only son spends his evenings topless and oiled up at a gay club, the explosive father-son fight that erupts on the front stoop outs Ches son to the entire community.
While school presents a daily torture from other boys, a few adult members of the neighborhood begin to accept Jesse for who he is. Che, however, still struggles to come to terms with it, and struggles harder still with his sobriety.
At Tampa International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival Friday Oct. 15, The Four-Faced Liar is a fast-paced, lighthearted look at relationships in a small group running woefully short on honesty and faithfulness.
In this mix we find Molly and Greg, an allegedly happy couple who've just moved to New York. They meet Trip and Bridget, who also live together but are not a couple (this can be a little disorienting, so pay close attention). Trip is busy cheating on his girlfriend, while Bridget is naming her latest conquests after the day of the week.
Singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright has become known for his lush piano melodies and ornate song structure often referred to as Baroque pop, and even, sometimes, popera since his debut album was released in 1998. Over the past 12 years, he has established himself as a preeminent songwriter of his generation, able to transcend current trends and remain an enigmatic force on the music scene. And now, Wainwright whose vast musical lineage includes singer-songwriter and father Loudon Wainwright III and mother-and-aunt folk duo Kate and Anne McGarrigle a longtime fan of both classical music and opera has decided to delve into the world of Verdi and Schubert.
An intimate documentary directed by George Scott, Rufus Wainwright: Prima Donna, focusing on Wainwrights foray into this world, will be shown at the 21st annual Tampa International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival on Thursday, October 14. The film follows Wainwright, an openly gay musician since his teens, behind the scenes, as he grapples with the production of his first opera, Prima Donna. With home video footage and interviews with those closest to Wainwright, including friends, his boyfriend, his parents and his musician sister Martha Wainwright, as much as the documentary is about the opera itself, its also about his eccentric childhood, chronicling how he became the enigmatic and mercurial performer he is today.
Filmmakers Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman compiled the script from court records, archival interviews with Ginsberg and Howl itself. But they intersperse their more traditional docu-dramatizing with segments of animation that bring to life Ginsbergs angel-headed hipsters in ways both literal and fantastical.
James Franco, who lately has been all about calling attention to himself (Grad programs! Art installations! General Hospital!) gives an admirably unshowy performance as Ginsberg, quietly conveying the poets earnestness and acute intelligence.
Review by Rona Wiener
Eyes Wide Open follows the struggles of Aaron, a devout family man in the orthodox Jewish community. After he hires Ezri to help at his butcher shop in Jerusalem, Aaron risks everything and allows a relationship to develop.
The conflict between religion, temptation, faithfulness, love, and the threat of being ostracized should make for a compelling story. Unfortunately, the movie fails to rise to the challenge. Instead, it slowly makes its way through an oppressive atmosphere, where deep emotions are implied, rather than expressed. The subtitles are also very poorly done and in some cases substantially different from the actual dialogue. On the bright side, the dialogue is really not that exciting, so youre not missing out on much.
Eyes Wide Open will be shown at the Tampa Theatre on Oct. 11 at 9 p.m. Go to the Tampa International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival website for more information.
Madsen Minax's Riot Acts: Flaunting Gender Deviance in Music is a music documentary for everyone. From the first moments of this film you know that you are about to discover something great. The music featured is as dynamic as the musicians presented.
The protagonists of this film bravely share their experiences as musicians who are transgender or gender-queer. It is a trans film that investigates what being trans really means on all fronts.
Review by Rona Wiener
A candid and touching portrayal of the Dont Ask, Dont Tell experience, this film stays away from the politics and instead shares a very personal perspective. Through a kaleidoscope of intermingled memories and interactions, we slowly get to see the lesbian military life through the eyes of Alex (Dreya Weber) as she visits her home town. Raised with a strong focus on a proud history of service, Alex presents a tough front while struggling to come to terms with recent events and dealing with sexism and homophobia from the small town locals. She also takes on the role of drill sergeant for Saffron (Paris Pickard), a troubled young woman forced to join the army as an alternative to jail time. Their strained friendship seems to be exactly what they both needed. The poignant subject matter and intense situations give this movie a very authentic feel.
A Marine Story will be shown at Tampa Theatre on Oct. 9 at 7 p.m. as part of the Tampa International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival.
When an annual event reaches a major milestone, as the Tampa International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival did last year with its 20th anniversary, it's always a challenge to follow up. Couple that task with a crippled economy, which has led to slashes in arts funding across the country, and it's no wonder that TIGLFF Director of Programming Margaret Murray wasnt quite sure what to expect for this years festival.
I was worried for a while, she said. But I was surprised that we had more entries than last year. The economy can affect the arts before it affects any other areas.
But Murray is confident that this years TIGLFF is bringing some compelling, interesting and current LGBT films to the Tampa Bay area Oct. 7-14. From documentaries to lighthearted romantic comedies, the festival offers diverse programming with something for everyone, man or woman, gay or straight.
The cool thing about Tampa is the wide variety of people that are here, Murray said. So we need to really reflect this in our programming.