As The Dixie Chicks learned all too well, the world of country music isn’t the most inviting place for anyone who deviates from the narrow Nashville norms. In 2010, singer Chely Wright put this conservative environment to the test when she became the first major country music performer to publicly come out as lesbian. Having made a strong debut as the Academy of Country Music’s Top New Female Vocalist in 1995, Wright went on to score big hits with “Shut Up and Drive” and “Single White Female.” She was romantically linked with superstar Brad Paisley and was invited to perform at “The Mother Church of Country Music,” the Grand Ole Opry.
Behind the scenes, though, Wright was struggling with her sexuality and her Christian faith, and she was haunted by a difficult childhood in rural Kansas. After attempting suicide, she decided to risk her career by releasing Like Me, a memoir about her years in the closet. Named after a track from Wright’s album “Lifted Off the Ground,” Wish Me Away is a candid profile of a groundbreaking figure in music history. —Jimmy Radosta
Wish Me Away: Dirs Bobbie Birleffi and Beverly Kopf 2011 USA 96 min.
Assigned female at birth, Lynne, Rocco, Kaleb and Miguel span a decade or more in age, speak different languages and live in urban cultures as dispersed as San Francisco, New York, Paris and Barcelona. And yet, in director Valérie Mitteaux’s sympathetic hands, the stories of their journeys into transmasculinity reveal common themes. How does a boy who was raised
as a girl learn to be a different kind of man? How can transmen inhabit a masculinity that is fluent and authentic, while learning to use the privilege that once oppressed them? It’s fascinating to see the various ways by which these incredibly charming guys and their
friends untangle these conundrums. Especially involving are scenes depicting relationships with family: Rocco awkwardly interviewing his parents and twin sister about his coming out,
and Lynnee (aka Lynn Breedlove of revered dyke-punk band Tribe 8) interacting in loving exasperation with his mother, who is something of a fabulous diva herself. These scenes help
reveal the context that formed each person’s unique expression of masculinity.
While the realm beyond the gender binary is no longer terra incognita, at least not for queer Portland, the film’s quietly nuanced perspective is rewarding no matter what one’s gender expression. As Mitteaux observed in a recent Q&A about the film, “It’s not a film about trans persons. It’s a film about looking at femininity and masculinity through the experiences of trans persons.” —Stella Maris
Girl or Boy: Dir Valérie Mitteaux 2011 France 61 min.
Community Partner: Pride Foundation
You may not recognize the name Ralf König, but you probably recognize his art. One of the most commercially successful German comic book creators, he is best known for books like “SchwulComix (GayComix)” that offer a twisted take on queer culture. Equal parts Tom of Finland and R. Crumb, König’s comics are sexually charged and often politically incorrect, portraying daily routines of gay life alongside serious subjects like AIDS.
Having grown up in a village centered around a sauerkraut factory, König worked as a carpenter before coming out as a gay man in 1979. After achieving minor success when
his work appeared in the Munich underground magazine Zomix, he attended art school and eventually caught the attention of a gay publishing house. In 1994, König achieved worldwide notoriety when his comic book The Most Desired Man was adapted into a liveaction film of the same name, starring Til Schweiger.
King of Comics is a touching portrait of a cutting-edge artist with a wicked sense of humor.
All hail the king! —Jimmy Radosta
King of Comics: Dir Rosa von Praunheim 2011 Germany 80 min
In this enormously compelling and tender-hearted film, director S. Casper Wong chronicles the journey she shared with her former teacher, best friend and on-again/off-again companion over the last 15 months of LuLu’s life. Armed with a predilection toward profanity, an ever-lit cigarette and a can of cheap beer, LuLu unflinchingly battles a disease
she knows only far too well.
Dr. Louise Nutter, affectionately known as LuLu, is a renowned cancer researcher on the cutting edge of developing a promising anti-cancer drug. Passionate, driven and inspiring
to scientific peers and students alike, LuLu is known as much for her 16-hour workdays as for her hard-living lifestyle. When she herself is diagnosed with breast cancer, LuLu remarks, “I don’t have time to do this shit,” and never allows the diagnosis to transform her
spirit or shake her trademark sense of humor.
The raw self-reflection expressed at times by those experiencing breast cancer, as well by those closest to them, is all captured here. But at its core The LuLu Sessions is a completely unconventional love story–an intimate and deeply personal portrait of two
people confronting a terminal illness with honesty, laughter and love.
The LuLu Sessions: Dir S. Casper Wong 2011 USA 87 min
Community Partners: Asian Pacific Islander Pride, Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette
In Italian “La Bocca del Lupo” means “mouth of the wolf.” It is also the name of the bay of Genoa, as well as slang for finding oneself in hard times or behind the barred windows of
prisons. In his film La Bocca del Lupo, Pietro Marcello weaves all these meanings into a cinematically expansive and deeply intimate love story between two unlikely partners and the city where they dream of making a new life together.
Released from prison for murder, Enzo returns to the back alleys and red-light districts of Genoa to reunite with his true love Mary–but all is not what it seems with these two outsiders who dream of finding a quiet haven together. One revelation after another unfolds as the course of their affair moves from prison yards, to neon-lit bars, to an astounding interview in the home they share. The result is both a unique tale of commitment and fidelity and an exploration of the violent and tender sides of life in the city’s underworld. Using the audio tapes that the lovers exchanged during incarceration; contemporary and archival footage that evokes classic Italian cinema; and a narration reminiscent of Proust and Jean Genet, La Bocca del Lupo blends personal passions and poetic history to create a hymn to love, to memory and finally to Genoa and the lives of those at its margins. –Donal Mosher
La Bocca del Lupo: Dir Pietro Marcello 2009 Italy 75 min.
On May 6th, 2009, Maine became the first state in this country to legislatively grant samesex couples the right to marry. Seven months later, on November 3rd, 2009, Maine reversed
that decision by voter referendum, becoming the 31st state to say “no” to marriage equality.
Question One chronicles the fierce and emotional battle that took place in Maine during that time, a battle whose political symbolism is a bellwether for the greater ideological battlefield
in American politics.
Closely mirroring California’s Prop 8 battle, Question One chronicles the behind-the-scenes workings of both sides of the conflict. The filmmakers spent the duration of the campaign
imbedded in the war rooms and strategy sessions, capturing the private thoughts, insights, fears and conflicts expressed by key leaders as they crafted and created their messages and strategies. Equally fascinating are the interviews with foot soldiers from each side who passionately believe in their cause.
With the state of Washington facing its own voter referendum this year, and the equality movement in Oregon carefully strategizing its next move, Question One provides an insightful and timely examination of the inner workings and cross-continental tactics that are being
employed in marriage equality battles across the country.
Panel discussion facilitated by Basic Rights Oregon following the film.
Question One: Dirs Joe Fox & James Nubile 2011 USA 113 min.
Community Partners: Basic Rights Oregon, Human Rights Campaign Portland, Equal Rights Washington
Jobriath A.D. uncovers the amazing forgotten story of a musical prodigy who aspired to be the first openly gay rock star in the early ‘70s. Born Bruce Campell in 1946, he burst into the heart of 1960s counterculture as “Jobriath Salisbury” singing the song “Sodomy” in the original L.A. cast of Hair.
Wildly talented, hyper ambitious, seductively and flamboyantly gay, Jobriath hooked up with infamous and powerful promoter Jerry Brandt, who just a year earlier had skyrocketed Carly Simon to stardom. Brandt massively hyped Jobriath as a new rock messiah who would “outglitter Bowie, out-queen Queen… “ But Brandt’s hype backfired, and the self-proclaimed “True Fairy of Rock ‘n’ Roll” proved to be too much even for the era of androgynous glam rockers and sexual ambiguity.
Director Kieran Turner follows Jobriath from his complicated family life and his musical beginnings in L.A. through his rollercoaster relationship with the wolf-like yet fawning Brandt.
The film also chronicles his amazing capacity for reinvention in new forms, ending with his final days as a cabaret singer dwelling in the famous Chelsea Hotel. Beautifully accented by animated depictions of Jobriath’s life, Jobriath A.D. features stunning archival footage and interviews with acquaintances, family and subsequent generations of performers (including Jake Shears, Joey Arias and Marc Almond) inspired by his truly stellar dreams and talent.
Jobriath A.D.: Dir Kieran Turner 2011 USA 107 min.
Community Partners: Northwest Film Center, Portland Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, Pants-off Productions
In the summer of 2005, a 16-year old boy named Zach in Memphis, Tenn. came out to his parents. Within days, he posted on his MySpace blog, “Today, my mother, father and I had a very long ‘talk‘ in my room where they let me know I am to apply for a fundamentalist
Christian program for gays.”
Zach’s parents were sending him to Love in Action, a program that refers to homosexuality as an addictive behavior and claims to turn gay teens straight. But before Zach got there, his despairing posts on the Internet quickly spread from his friends, to the local community, to the nation. In a remarkably short time, daily protests were organized outside the campus
of Love in Action. This Is What Love in Action Looks Like follows the inspirational story of Zach’s local community standing up for their friend in what would become an international
news story. Former Love in Action director John Smid as well as former adult and teenage clients share their reflections on these experiences. In addition, local bloggers, community
activists and classmates of Zach tell their stories of becoming involved. By the time Zach emerged in late July 2005, there was a barrage of headlines in the international press, including Good Morning America, CNN, The New York Times, Time magazine and The
Advocate. And yes, the story has a happy ending!
This Is What Love in Action Looks Like: Dir Morgan Jon Fox 2010 USA 70 min.
Community Partners: Portland PFLAG, The Living Room, SMYRC
From the southern tip of Africa and the northern tip of Europe, here are two very different perspectives on contemporary lesbian life.
Difficult Love portrays photographer Zanele Muholi, whose work explores the multilayered stories of black South African lesbians. Though South Africa’s 1996 constitution was the first in the world to outlaw discrimination against gays and lesbians, the legacy of apartheid and long-ingrained homophobia and sexism continue to create a challenging environment for black lesbians.
Muholi’s breathtaking images document not only the hardships some lesbians face, but also capture the tenderness, love and beauty of her community. Her subjects, many of whom appear in the film, range from urban professionals and academics to a homeless lesbian couple living under a bridge.
Not a Man in Sight looks at three generations of lesbians in Norway.
Director Mette Aakerholm Gardell and her wife, Stina, are wanting to have a child, which prompts Mette’s search for a new understanding of what “lesbian” means. Martine is 24 and wants to be seen as “just a normal masculine human being.” She feels like a heterosexual
boy as she’s falling in love with a lesbian. Marja and Bodil, a couple both in their 70s, are from the first generation of lesbian/feminist activists, now dealing with aging and health issues together and dreaming of skinnydipping on Lesbos.
Difficult Love: Dirs Zanele Muholi & Peter Goldsmid 2010 South Africa 47 min.
Not a Man in Sight: Dir Mette Aakerholm Gardell 2011 Norway 48 min.
Community Partners: OGALLA: The LGBT Bar Association of Oregon, Cascade Festival of African Films, In Other Words Feminist Community Center
In June 2003, the Episcopal Church in New Hampshire came under fire when it became the first to elect an openly gay man, Gene Robinson, as a bishop. Since that flash point, Robinson has been at the center of the contentious battle for LGBT people to receive full acceptance in the faith.
Director Macky Alston (whose documentary, Family Name, won the Freedom of Expression Award at the 1997 Sundance Film Festival) follows Robinson into the breach in the struggle for equality. While resolute in his calling, Robinson grows increasingly critical of the central role that religious institutions have played in fostering homophobia and hatred. He is pointedly not invited to a once-a-decade convocation of bishops, and he courts controversy by attending. His presence the next year for the Episcopal General Convention underscores the impact of its impending decisions about the church’s stance on the consecration of future gay bishops and the performance of same-sex marriage ceremonies. While Robinson never intended to be the poster boy for gay bishops, Love Free or Die (winner
of a U.S. Documentary Special Jury Prize at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival) demonstrates that he has become a beacon of hope for millions. His history-making church provides a
model for other communities of faith to treat all people with dignity and respect, regardless of their sexuality. –2012 Sundance Film Festival
Love Free or Die: Dir Macky Alston 2011 USA 82 min.
Community Partners: Metropolitan Community Church of Portland, Integrity Oregon
We are thrilled to bring you the long-awaited documentary about Vito Russo as our Closing Night film. Russo was one of the most articulate, charismatic voices for gay rights since the early Gay Liberation days in 1970s New York. His parallel passions for cinema and gay rights came together in the book The Celluloid Closet, a groundbreaking study of gay and lesbian imagery and themes in film that remains a landmark in the field, and which subsequently became a major documentary film. As one of the founders of GLAAD, Russo
led the charge in demanding an end to homophobic portrayals of gays and lesbians in the media. As AIDS engulfed the gay community, Russo became one of the most ferocious critics of the Reagan administration’s response to the epidemic and a tireless advocate for
people with AIDS.
Jeffrey Schwarz’s comprehensive and moving film tells Russo’s story through the voices of many of his friends and colleagues, among them Lily Tomlin, Armistead Maupin, Felice Picano and Larry Kramer. Intimate interviews with family members evoke a touching
picture of Russo’s parents’ gradual embrace of everything he stood for. The epic nature of Russo’s place in a turbulent history is dynamically captured in a wealth of archival material.
VITO captures the essence of this remarkable man whose courage and wisdom will be celebrated for generations to come.
VITO: Dir Jeffrey Schwarz 2011 USA 93 min.
Community Partners: Cascade AIDS Project, Our House of Portland, Equity Foundation