Friday, June 17, 2005

29th SF Intl. LGBT Film Festival - Day 1

I chose not to go to Opening Night on Thursday, for various reasons: 1) pricey ($75) for an 'ok' party; 2) an 'ok' party would be even LESS 'ok' since I'm 'hooked to the pump' this weekend and unable to consume the Skyy Vodka Open Bar; 3) the film ("Cote d'Azure") releases this summer anyway.

So, today, pump in tow (my shrink will be so proud!), I went to the first pair of matinees at the Castro.

"The Joy of Life" (dir. Jenni Olson, 2005, USA, 65 mins, 16mm) This was neither joyous nor lively. Jenni Olson has never exhibited what I could call a sense of humor, even in her previous compilations: "Homo Promo" parts 1, 2 and I think there was a 3. In "The Joy of Life" (dedicated to Mark Finch, former artistic director of the festival, who apparently committed suicide by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge), there is a collection of beautiful visuals of San Francisco. However, the narration is split into several parts: a) a butch lesbian bemoaning her loneliness; b) a critical dissection of Frank Capra, centering on "Meet John Doe"; c) a poem about San Francisco; d) an analysis and history of the suicides from the Golden Gate Bridge. The pacing is referred to as 'hypnotic' in the program. "Hypnotic" means S L O W. And completely void of life. In fact, the photography is completely made up of landscapes and avoids all persons or creatures. During the Q&A, someone asked, "Where is the joy?" Olson responded, "My love for San Francisco is bittersweet." Oh. Ok. Whatever... This was preceded by the short:

"Small Town Secrets" (dir. Katherine Leggett, 2004, USA, 8 min, video) in which a woman explores what it was like being the child of parents who both came out of the closet at some point: her mother is a lesbian and her father is gay. It could have been a sort of an interesting story, but she basically recorded phone conversations and webcam sessions with her parents. Visually, dull, but it had potential. Oh well. Thank god for the second feature, though!! markosf caught up with me for:

"The Lady in Question is Charles Busch" (dirs John Catania & Charles Ignacio, USA, 2005, 93 min, video) This is simply a tribute to that fabulous performer and playwright, Charles Busch! It features a TON of video archives of the early productions of the Theater-In-Limbo! It was fabulous to see excerpts of "Vampire Lesbians of Sodom" "Psycho Beach Party" "Shanghai Moon" as well as "The Lady In Question" which was the last Theater-In-Limbo production. The documentary is a biography tracing his childhood, through his years with the Theater-In-Limbo, climaxes with the production of "The Tale of the Allergist's Wife," his brush with a cardiac aneurysm, and finishes with the pre-production of "Die Mommie Die." There is a graceful and short, though unflattering nod to "Taboo," which he wrote the book for the Broadway production, while filming "Die Mommie Die." (It would seem that Rosie O'Donnell was NOT to be denied!) Overall, it was a pleasure, if not a privilege to get to witness the videos of Busch and his troupe at their peak! I'd love to have this on video, once it releases!! There was a Q&A, but it was fairly unremarkable.

That was all for today, as I didn't want to push it since it is going to be a LONG week and a half! :-)

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