Thursday, October 11, 2007

Out On Film, 2007 - Opening Night

Out On Film, IMAGE Film and Video's annual LGBT film festival launched tonight at the Landmark Midtown Art Cinema here in Atlanta. There was a pre-party, the film and then a post-party. I hit two out of three, but made up for it by meeting my editor, Pam Cole from Southern Screen Report, at a neighboring bar (The Independent) and not the 'official' pre-party at F.R.O.G.S. (Rick and Chip also met us there.) Pam got me up to speed as far as who-was-who as we threw ourselves into the fray of Opening Night.

The Midtown Art Cinemas is an 8 screen art house, with two of the screens devoted to the film festival. The schedule isn't too severely packed, as there is a 45 minute gap between the start times of the two screens, so there shouldn't be the CHAOS that occurred at the Atlanta Film Festival in April. Also, from the size of the opening night audience, it would seem that "Out On Film" is not as avidly attended as the AFF, which is sort of puzzling given the relatively large gay and lesbian community in Atlanta.

We were greeted with swag bags, that were actually more ads than swag. Then Executive Director, Gabriel Wardell, began the string of welcoming and introductory speeches. Though I refrained from remarking during the Atlanta Film Festival, Mr. Wardell tends to ramble during his introductions. He is quite THOROUGH as far as getting all the sponsors in and then continues on with the IMAGE Film and Video membership pitch, which he can digress upon. I may begin to time his introductions, just for my own amusement. Anyway, after he finished, he brought up a representative from the Opening Night benefactor, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), who gave a short and amusing little hello. She was followed by representatives from the co-sponsors of the evening, the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, which I was informed is the best organized and attended festival of the year in Atlanta. In fact, though it is nearly four months away, the AJFF had special postcards already printed to attract the GLBT audience. (It was a parody poster called "Brokeback Mt. Sinai".) Executive Director, Judy Marx, gave a quick 'mazel tov' and a nifty jab at Anne Coulter before bringing up the programmer of the AJFF (whose name I seem to have forgotten - Mike Simmons, I think?), who gave an impassioned and lengthy description of what we were about to see. He was so moved by the film, which premiered in Toronto last year, that he couldn't help but to give away spoilers in his introduction. So, after about twenty minutes of 'pre-show', the film began.

THE BUBBLE (dir. Eytan Fox, Israel, 2006, 115 mins.) Eytan Fox also directed "YOSSI & JAGGER" (which created quite the stir by inciting an onstage protest at the SF LGBT Film Festival in 2003!). Here he again mixes politics and sex and romance as a relationship develops between a Jewish national guardsman and a Palestinian man. Things get even more political as the guardsman's roommates (a gay man and a straight woman) are involved with an anti-settlement movement. Oh, and then there is the Palestinian family, who is preparing for his sister's wedding and planning a marriage for him. There are also more characters, as far as the roommates love interests are concerned, too. The point I am driving at is that there are a LOT of subplots going on here. It is scripted and performed with enough skill that this miasma of sexual-political-romantic plotting doesn't become burdensome, until the lengthy parallel climaxes and denouements. That said, the film features some exceptionally edgy scenes, both sexually and breathtakingly politically confrontational, especially for a film that was produced with government money! The cast is beautiful. Each and every one of them. In fact, one of the roommates' paramours made the audience gasp on his entrance! ("Shalom!" gulp!) The cinematography is hand held, yet steady enough not to be nauseating and the editing is particularly clever at points. Considering the bleakness of the subject matter, the film retained a great deal of heart and hope within it. However, there is a certain amount of debate regarding the motive of the final action that is taken by our protagonist. As the numerous plots wrap up, I found myself emotionally distancing, or literally wrapping up also, so that by the time it reached the 'big finish', I found myself a bit confused, if not put off by that final act. (I hate being this vague, but I do NOT want to give away a spoiler!) Though I enjoyed the film and admire it more for what it does, I can not say I 'loved it' as it became a bit of work for me to get to the end, and beyond.

After the film, The Independent was the host of some party munchies on the balcony overlooking the theatre entrance, where much networking was done. It was also during an interview with an internet television show that my editor, Pam, got the idea that we need to start podcasting, since we had a bit of an entertaining on-camera debate about the film's ending. There would seem to be MORE to come...!

Maxxxxx says
re The Bubble: "Oooo! Such a pretty bird!"

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