QDoc 2010

Forever’s Gonna Start Tonight

Director Michelle Lawler & Vicki Marlane in attendance.

Portland trailblazer Darcelle XV isn’t the only drag legend with impressive staying power:
San Francisco’s Vicki Marlane is still going strong well into her 70s.

Born Donald Dave Sterger in 1934, Vicki grew up in small-town Minnesota before escaping to join the circus as “the alligator skin girl,” “the girl in the iron lung” and other sideshow attractions. She later hitchhikes across the country, turning tricks to make ends meet, before launching a career as a female impersonator in Detroit—years ahead of the Stonewall Rebellion. Arriving in San Francisco she was “the toast of the town” in the early ‘70s, before battling depression and drug addiction. She has maintained sheer determination throughout.

An intimate, compelling profile in courage, FOREVER’S GONNA START TONIGHT holds nothing back in sharing one woman’s unique survival story. Vicki continues to entertain audiences by performing classics like Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” (from which the film derives its title) every weekend at Aunt Charlie’s Lounge in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco.

Preceded by GET HAPPY, an inspirational coming-of-age story about following your dreams. Filmmaker Mark Payne documents his remarkable journey from impersonating Judy Garland as a flamboyant 12-year-old to hobnobbing with Hollywood superstars as a clothing designer, recording artist and Emmy-winning makeup artist. – Jimmy Radosta

Forever’s Gonna Start Tonight: Dir Michelle Lawler 2009 USA 54 min.
Get Happy: Dir Mark Payne 2008 USA 25 min.

Community Partner: Sexual Minority Youth Resource Center

8: The Mormon Proposition

On June 17, 2008, same-sex couples in California began legally saying “I do” after the state’s Supreme Court ruled firmly on the side of marriage equality. The victory was short-lived, however, as a well-orchestrated campaign to overturn the ruling was placed on the state’s ballot as Proposition 8. For many gay Americans, Election Day 2008 was a case of emotional extremes. The exhilarating spirit of “Yes We Can” was met with the incomprehensible results of Prop 8, where a majority of California voters said, “No You Can’t.”

In 8: THE MORMON PROPOSITION, director Reed Cowan and co-director Steven Greenstreet, both former Mormons, skillfully investigate and expose the massive role the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints played in the California ballot measure. Documenting the money trail and the under-the-radar machinations, while weaving in interviews with politicians, historians, church members and those most directly affected by the outcome, Cowan and Greenstreet uncover a secretive, decades-long crusade by the church against LGBT citizens and marriage equality.

Narrated by Academy Award-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black (Milk) – who was also raised Mormon – 8: THE MORMON PROPOSITION is a fascinating exposé on the inner workings of the LDS church and its preoccupation with denying civil rights to gay and lesbian people across the country.

8: The Mormon Proposition: Dir Reed Cowan 2009 USA 80 min.

Community Partner: Basic Rights Oregon

A Drag King Extravaganza

Fri, June 4, 2010,  9pm

An exciting wave of drag king performance art across the country was the driving force behind the formation of the International Drag KingCommunity Extravaganza (IDKE), an annual conference, gathering and performance venue for drag kings. Through lively conversations with the founders and a diverse variety of participants throughout Canada and the United States, A DRAG KING EXTRAVAGANZA explores the intersection of drag king performance and the politics of gender, race and sexuality. Celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2008, the IDKE is shown to have come a long way from its humble beginnings. Whether it’s hilariously skewering the ideals of hetero masculinity or subtly commenting on race and sexuality, drag king culture has become an ever more present and entertaining form of social critique.

Preceded by STORME: THE LADY OF THE JEWEL BOX, a touching film featuring ‘50s trailblazer Storme DeLarverie, the sole male impersonator of the famed Jewel Box Revue. Working as a bouncer in New York City, Storme recounts a long and happy run with America’s first integrated female impersonation troupe, and talks about the invisibility of male impersonators at the time. “All I had to do was just be me and let people use their imagination,” says DeLarverie. “I modeled myself after me.” – Amy Williams

A Drag King Extravaganza: Dirs Clare Smyth & Meaghan Derynck 2008 Canada 43 min.
Storme: The Lady of the Jewel Box: Dir Michelle Parkerson 1987 USA 21 min.

Unsung: Sylvester

Out, proud and prodigiously talented, Sylvester was the undisputed King and Queen of Disco. His breakthrough hit “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” made him an international star, and forever symbolizes the late ‘70s disco era. Armed with a powerhouse falsetto, his backup singers Two Tons of Fun (future Weather Girls of “It’s Raining Men” fame) and an irresistibly unique style and charisma, Sylvester made music that embodied the spirit and hope of a generation determined to live life on its own terms.

Born Sylvester James, he got his start as a gospel sensation in an L.A. church choir. His rise to stardom began after moving to San Francisco, singing with the legendary gender-bending troupe The Cockettes. Singing gospel, rock and blues, the burgeoning diva finally rocketed to fame with the disco craze. Gold albums, TV and movie appearances followed, as his distinctive voice, flamboyant persona and enormous flair ignited dance floors all over the world.

Preceded by SYLVESTER: MIGHT REAL, a promo of a documentary-in-progress, and possibly some other rare Sylvester treats! Our celebration of Sylvester wraps up with a music video so infectious, you will be dancing long after you leave the theater.

Unsung: Sylvester: Produced by TV One 2010 USA 48 min.
Sylvester: Mighty Real: Dir Tim Smyth 2010 USA 4 min.

Community Partner: Q Center

Edie & Thea: A Very Long Engagement

Edie and Thea love to dance. They danced all night the first time they met, and they have danced happily together through more than 40 years of life, love and loss. Winner of countless awards for Best Documentary at festivals around the world, EDIE & THEA: A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT is a love story about two remarkable women whose passion and commitment to each other is an inspiration to all.

Directors Ólafsdóttir and Muska (The Brandon Teena Story) have fashioned a richly rewarding portrait of this delightfully feisty couple, and in doing so have documented a treasure of pre-Stonewall history. In 1960s New York, lesbian life was a closeted existence where the social scene revolved around clandestine, Mafia-operated bars. With frequent threats of raids and exposure, immense societal pressure and unsupportive families, these courageous women and others like them survived and went on to become tireless community activists while building a beautiful life together. As Edie puts it, “I didn’t want a life without love.”

Watching Edie and Thea reminiscing over old photographs from their early days, their enduring love and attraction for each other is palpable. “If I look at Edie now, she looks exactly the same to me,” says Thea. No matter your age, gender or sexuality, prepare to be moved by this heartwarming and entertaining film.

Edie & Thea: A Very Long Engagement: Dirs Susan Muska & Gréta Ólafsdóttir 2009 USA 61 min.

Community Partners: In Other Words Bookstore and Elder Resource Alliance

William S. Burroughs: A Man Within

“I bring not peace, but a sword!” shouts William S. Burroughs in A MAN WITHIN. The legendary writer and artist also carried, as director Yony Leyser’s deeply engaging documentary shows, an untold number of shotguns, pistols, knives and other weapons, both real and rhetorical. Through interviews with friends, lovers and colleagues, both famous (Patti Smith, Gus Van Sant, John Waters) and less so (his “gun handler” is here, as well as his “snake dealer”), A MAN WITHIN pieces together a poignant, scrupulous portrait of an intensely complicated and brilliant artist. Here was a man who chronicled the lives of addicts, decidedly long before it was “chic” to do so; who wrote the seminal book Queer while disavowing any sense of gay identity; who drunkenly killed his wife with a pistol during a game of William Tell; and whose Naked Lunch provoked the last major case of literary censorship in the United States.

A legend whose influence extends from the Beats to the punks and beyond, Burroughs emerges as an iconoclast both decades ahead of his time and embodying the most extreme contradictions of contemporary American culture. Featuring music by Sonic Youth, A MAN WITHIN serves as a comprehensive survey of an utterly fearless and indomitable artist, one who uncovered – yet never acceded to – the underlying, unspoken presumptions of his political, social and artistic milieus. – Dan Frazier

William S. Burroughs: A Man Within: Dir Yony Leyser 2009 USA 90 min.

Community Partners: Portland Lesbian & Gay Film Festival and Literary Arts

Le Tigre: On Tour

Director Kerthy Fix in attendance

Rising from the ashes of the Riot Grrl movement, Le Tigre was a natural evolution, becoming a phenom of feminist and queer culture, simultaneously angry and inspired.

After disbanding legendary feminist punk band Bikini Kill, lead singer Kathleen Hanna focused on creating a separate identity beyond the baggage-laden, media-darling Riot Grrl culture. Initially intended as a “Ziggy Stardust”-style alter-ego project, Le Tigre became its own creature. Along with bandmates Johanna Fateman and JD Samson, Hanna shifted both musically and culturally by mixing stripped-down electronic beats with feminist and queer politics.

As a sneak preview at QDoc, LE TIGRE: ON TOUR profiles the band on its last tour in 2004, focusing on songs from the under-appreciated masterpiece “This Island.” Through energetic live performances interspersed with interviews – including Hanna’s oft-told story of her penning the title to a famous Nirvana song – this raw and captivating documentary shows how Le Tigre could transform even its catchiest club hits into bold political statements. The lasting impression is that of three friends, still excited about making music, and seemingly still surprised that people want to listen to it.

Above all, the film hilariously exhibits that being in Le Tigre was about having fun. As JD sings in “Viz,” an homage to female masculinity: “They call it way too rowdy, we call it finally free.” – Wing Grabowski

Le Tigre: On Tour: Dir Kerthy Fix 2010 USA 73 min.

Community Partners: Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for Girls, Bitch Media, and Portland Institute for Contemporary Art

Other Nature

In 2007 news rippled around the world that Nepal’s Supreme Court had struck down laws discriminating against homosexuality and ruled to acknowledge a third gender identity. Legalization of same-sex marriage and a directive to protect the rights of gays and lesbians soon followed. Inspired by the news, filmmaker Nani Sahra Walker traveled back to her birthplace to discover and document the tremendous changes under way.

Despite the court’s pronouncements, legal and social change is slow to come, and LGBT activists are deeply engaged in securing their newfound rights. With a new constitution being written, it is critical for the voices of sexual minorities to make themselves heard. As third gender activist Badri Pun bluntly puts it, “Kick us out of the country…or give us our rights.”

Walker’s access to those involved in the struggle is impressive. Through the lens of third gender activists, gay and lesbian activists, politicians, scholars, sex workers, nuns, artists, military cadets, friends and family, we see that the path to full equality will take solidarity, determination, strength of character and a peace with oneself. Making its North American premiere at QDoc, OTHER NATURE captures the spirit of this movement and the people behind it beautifully.

Other Nature: Dir Nani Sahra Walker 2009 Nepal/USA 57 min.

Community Partner: Oregon Gay and Lesbian Law Association

Out In The Silence

When filmmaker Joe Wilson submitted a same-sex wedding announcement to his hometown newspaper in Oil City, Pa., he had no idea what was in store. A flurry of hateful letters to the editor compelled him to leave the progressive bubble of Washington, D.C., and return to his roots for a firsthand look at what it means to be queer today in rural America.

Wilson responds to a desperate plea from the mother of a gay teenager who is forced to drop out of school when teachers turn a blind eye to relentless bullying. Meanwhile, a lesbian couple work to give back to their tight-knit community by renovating a rundown theater—only to be tormented by a right-wing radio host who denounces their “homosexual agenda.” Wilson also confronts an evangelical pastor whose mind slowly opens after seeing the young student stand up for his rights, proving that friendships can come in the most unlikely of places.

Fresh on the heels of Mississippi teenager Constance McMillen’s fight to take her girlfriend to the prom, OUT IN THE SILENCE serves as a candid reminder that the nationwide struggle for equality is far from over—and that the next generation of leaders has arrived. – Jimmy Radosta

Out in the Silence: Dirs Joe Wilson and Dean Hamer 2009 USA 57 min.

Community Parnters: Rural Organizing Project, Basic Rights Oregon and Portland PFLAG

Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls

Jools and Lynda Topp and producer Arani Cuthbert in attendance

In TOPP TWINS, director Leanne Pooley uses photos, home movies, live performances and interviews to chronicle the indelible story of Jools and Lynda Topp. This twin sister lesbian duo is a cultural pillar in their home of New Zealand, cutting across all cultural divides with an infectious zeal for life, a commitment to humanitarian causes and a sense of humor and performing talent that make them impossible not to watch.

This loving portrait brings the twins into full color and dimension, balancing hilarious interviews with their alter stage egos and footage of their foot-stomping public performances with a tender and calibrated look at the sisters as they face Jools’ fight with breast cancer. Ultimately what comes through is that their commitment to one another and to being who they are is captivating for any audience.

TOPP TWINS: UNTOUCHABLE GIRLS was the People’s Choice Award Winner for Best Documentary at the Toronto and Portland International Film Festivals. The rest of the world is learning what New Zealand already knows: The Topp Twins are an international treasure. – Kristin Steele

Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls: Dir Leanne Pooley 2009 New Zealand 84 min.

Community Partners: Northwest Film Center and Siren Nation

AND THE TOPP TWINS – LIVE ON STAGE

Tues, June 8th at the Mission Theater – 21+ Show