Thursday, June 23, 2005

29th SF Intl. LGBT Film Fest - Day 7

It's another 11 a.m. to midnight day. There was a lot of FLESH to be seen today, however tedious. Starting with the shorts program "My Hustler," featuring 5 shorts with a focus on male prostitutes:

"My Hustler Boyfriend" (dir Peter Pizzi 2005 USA 4 min video) was an odd poetic ode to, well, a tranny's hustler boyfriend. Hardly remarkable enough to even include here.

"Licking Our Wounds" (dir Wendy Dallas 2005 USA 16 min video) Ok, it has a BUMMER plot, but it was wonderfully performed. A woman provides a hustler to her dieing friend. The woman was fantastic! She was present and I actually felt the need to meet-and-greet and thank her for her performance. I can't remember her name now, unfortunately...

"Room Service" (dir Daniel Reitz 2004 USA 20 min video) This could have been more amusing, if it weren't so honestly annoying. A geeky guy hires a hunk of a hustler, only to be so self conscience and nervous that the entire episode collapses. The geeky guy was almost TOO good! I really wanted to slap him around as much as the hooker did.

"Gold" (dir Amen Kazazian 2005 Canada 16 min 35mm) A boy is 'kept' by a blind painter. He is 'used' by the painter to continue his work. This little synopsis doesn't do the film justice. It was really sort of intense and quite well done.

"Myopia" (dir Mark Alan Dashnaw 2005 USA 29 min video) A guy gets mugged while attempting to hook up in a park, and then catches up with the mugger to take vengeance. There is fall out for the muggee, in which the whole thing got murky, and sparked an odd line of questioning during the Q&A, since the mugger was hispanic and there was name calling during the fight scenes. Some people are just too touchy... Speaking of 'touchy' the next program was a documentary about Mexican strippers!

"Zona Rosa" (dir Dan Castle 2005 USA/Mexico 75 min video in Spanish with English subtitles) This focused on dancers who worked in the "pink zone" in Mexico City, where there used to be a large number of male strip clubs. (Apparently, almost ALL of them were closed just last year.) Though some of the guys are gorgeous, their homophobic interviews got tiresome, and to be honest, I actually dozed off at one point. They're all quite pretty, but... well... The documentary just didn't seem to be leading anywhere except for an opportunity to ogle boys. I can appreciate that, yes, but in the comfort of my own home... ;-) NOTE: this was the FIRST time in THIS festival that I took a nap! I should have saved some of my nap time for the next program:

"Heroes and Gay Nazis" (dir Rosa von Praunheim 2004 Germany 90 min video in German with English subtitles) This was a comprehensive documentary about gays in the Nazi movement, both present day and historically. To a certain extent, this could be fascinating. However, Praunheim's style is primarily 'talking heads' and after a while, the constant babbling began to drone. I was tempted to doze off. Which means, I probably did doze off and don't remember. This was preceded by the short:

"A Life In Vain - Walter Schwarze" (dir Rosa von Praunheim 2004 Germany 16 min video in German with English subtitles) This is another Praunheim interview, however Walter Schwarze's testimony of his experience in a WWII concentration camp is horrific and should be captured and archived for posterity.

After spending the morning and afternoon with all this bummer material at the Castro, I decided to pop over to the Victoria to see the short that was preceding the 'encore screening' of "Paris Is Burning":

"Who's The Top?" (dir Jennie Livingston 2005 USA 22 min 35mm) This was a wildly entertaining fantasia of a woman's sexual daydreams! At one point, it goes into a Busby Berkley inspired S&M ballet! It was short, funny, wonderfully photographed and briskly paced. Jennie Livingston also directed "Paris Is Burning" which is why this was being shown with it. I did not stay for "Paris is Burning" but scampered back to the Castro for:

"TransGeneration" (dir Jeremy Simmons 2005 USA 80 min video) This documentary follows four college students who are in the process of sexual reassignment. Ok, I must admit that the whole transexual 'thing' is just a bit out of my box. I risk sounding like my parents, but I just don't understand it. And following the four students was a bit too episodic and made the 80 minutes seem much longer to me. Also, the Sundance Channel, which will be airing this next month, has been promoting it so hard, that I felt like I'd already seen it. There was also this uncomfortable moment for me, as the director, producer and all four students were at the screening and received a standing ovation, which I really didn't think was deserving. But one doesn't want to piss off a tranny, so I joined in anyway. There was NO standing ovation for the final program of the day:

"That Man: Peter Berlin" (dir Jim Tushinski 2005 USA 80 min video) This documentary seeked to explore the 'Greta Garbo of gay porn,' Peter Berlin. Peter Berlin interviews that he created a persona, not unlike Marilyn Monroe. He continues to express his resentment that he was never treated like anything more than a sex symbol. Now, this is where the film gets sort of sticky. Berlin was for all intents and purposes an artist. All of the photographs of him (with the exception of one sitting he did with Robert Mapplethorpe), he took himself. He was nearly obsessed with self-portraiture. Not only did he photographically create this character, but he lived in it. Though he may claim that no one knows him for who he really is, he is so absorbed in the sexual persona he created that he doesn't allow anyone to get to know him. He tells a story of how he was wandering through a shopping arcade in Paris that was filled with glass cases. He spotted a guy whom he felt instantly attracted to. This was a thrill for him, as he had never felt that rush before. As he approached, he realized that is was actually his own reflection. This is the level of vanity and narcissism that fills the documentary. However, there are a number of interviews with 'gay historians' including John Waters, who is just a HOOT!! Peter Berlin was present at the screening for an awkward Q&A, where he not only deflected any compliments, but went out of his way to shoot them down. (The Q&A as nearly 30 minutes.) The man claims to be 60 years old now, but still dresses as if he were in his 20's. Oh! Which reminds me that one of the odd trivial facts that came out was that he didn't create 'Peter Berlin' until he was 30 years old. "I looked so much younger. It was flattering to know how beautiful I could appear to the camera." That's the kind of interview he gave. It is doing exceptionally well on the film festival circuit and will probably get distribution. It is worth a look, if just for all the footage of San Francisco in the 70s.

Tomorrow: starting at 11 a.m. and going until... Happy Hour or "Trannyshack" the documentary at 11 p.m.

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