With The Case Against 8, filmmakers Ben Cotner and Ryan White have crafted a masterful legal drama – both intimate and epic, exciting and incredibly moving. While other films have dealt with the electoral ups and downs of the marriage battle, The Case Against 8 reveals the extraordinary legal strategies that altered the landscape for marriage equality around the country, including Oregon.
Challenging California’s notorious Prop 8 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, the case was argued all the way to the Supreme Court by a very unlikely team of attorneys. Ted Olson and David Boies had been adversaries in the Bush v Gore case that put George W. Bush into the White House. Together, they found common ground advocating for two courageous couples who allowed their personal lives to become the center of this highly controversial crusade.
Winner of Best Director – Documentary at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, The Case Against 8 will surely become part of the canon of LGBT history films.
The Case Against 8: Dirs Ben Cotner and Ryan White USA 2014 112 min
Sponsored By: HBO
Presented in association with the Northwest Film Center.
Community Partner: Basic Rights Oregon
The Abominable Crime, at heart, is a story about a mother’s love for her child and an activist’s troubled love for his country. It also gives voice to gay Jamaicans who, in the face of endemic anti-gay violence, are forced to flee their homeland.
Maurice Tomlinson, Jamaica’s leading human-rights activist, is outed shortly after filing a lawsuit challenging his country’s anti-sodomy law. After receiving a flood of death threats, he escapes to Canada, then risks everything to return to continue his activism.
Simone Edwards, a young lesbian single mother, survives a brutal anti-gay shooting. Now she must choose between hiding with her daughter in Jamaica in constant fear for their lives or escaping alone to seek safety and asylum abroad. Told firsthand as they unfold, these personal accounts take the audience on an emotionally gripping journey traversing four years and five countries. Their stories expose the roots of homophobia in Jamaican society, reveal the deep psychological and social impacts of discrimination on the lives of gays and lesbians, and offer an intimate first-person perspective on the risks and challenges of seeking asylum abroad.
The Abominable Crime: Dir Micah Fink USA 2013 66 min
Community Partner: OGALLA: The LGBT Bar Association of Oregon
Watch this film and you will be feeling some Derby Crazy Love. The award-winning directing team of Maya Gallus and Justine Pimlott lead us deep into the badass world of women’s international flat track, where you better have names like Smack Daddy, Raw Heidi, Kamikaze Kitten and Iron Wench to survive the fast-moving, nonstop action, all the while looking fabulous.
The film takes us behind the scenes of one of the most anticipated rematches in derby history as Montreal’s New Skids on the Block, a team of tattooed misfits, take on UK powerhouse London Rollergirls for a coveted shot at the international championships, while reigning world champions New York’s Gotham Girls (and cover girl Suzy Hotrod) defend their title. Each team is a close-knit collection of athletes who have found not only the tribe they belong to, but a healthy outlet for the kind of aggression long denied to women. Action-packed footage will keep you on the edge of your seat, and who knows? You might find yourself showing up at a local match cheering on our own Rose City Rollers.
— Jennifer Junkyard Morris
Derby Crazy Love: Dirs Maya Gallus and Justine Pimlott Canada 2014 62 min
Community Partners: Portland Oregon Women’s Film Festival ; She Bop
Susan Sontag is one of the few Americans who could legitimately be described as a “glamorous intellectual.” Strikingly attractive and imposingly charismatic, Sontag was a prolific essayist, novelist, filmmaker and activist. From her seminal essay on the queer aesthetics of “Camp” to critiques of the Vietnam War, from art theory to the AIDS epidemic, Sontag engaged with the culture and politics of the 20th century as one of its boldest writers and thinkers.
Sontag could be frustratingly elusive on the subject of her sexual and romantic life, but she certainly had a very adventurous one. Though married to a man for a period, she was mostly involved with a variety of strong women, including her long-term relationship with photographer Annie Leibovitz. Regarding Susan Sontag traces the lines between her unwavering professional passions and the powerful, uninhibited intimate relationships that informed her life both as an artist and as an intellectual.
“My desire to write is connected to my homosexuality,” she confided in a 1959 journal entry. “I need the identity as a weapon to match the weapon that society has against me.” Regarding Susan Sontag opens a remarkable window into the private world of this dynamic public figure.
— Sascha Strand
Regarding Susan Sontag: Dir Nancy Kates 2014 USA 100 min
Sponsored By: Daniel Winter and John Forsgren
Community Partner: Write Around Portland
Mark Bingham could be described as a typical all-American jock. Captain of his high school rugby team, then a star player with UC Berkeley’s championship-winning team, he was even president of the Chi Psi Fraternity. At age 21, he surprised pretty much everyone by coming out as a gay man.
On September 11th, 2001, Mark Bingham died on United Airlines Flight 93, widely believed to be one of a group of four men who heroically fought to overtake control of the plane from the hijackers.
This film explores Mark’s extraordinary relationship with his single mom, who happened to be a flight attendant. It offers a perspective on gender through the prism of a young gay man seeking his identity in the aggressively masculine world of high school and college sports. Utilizing home movies made by Mark himself in his early years, the film also includes interviews with his high school friends, coaches and fraternity brothers, his former partner, and his close-knit family. They all help paint a generous portrait of Mark Bingham and why his courageous actions on 9/11 were not an anomaly, but part of who he was.
— Andy Motz
The Rugby Player: Dir Scott Gracheff USA 80 min
Sponsored By: Rick Watkins and Les Lewis
Community Partners: Equity Foundation; Portland PFLAG
With books like Gender Outlaw, My Gender Workbook and Hello Cruel World (101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks & Other Outlaws), Kate Bornstein occupies a place of honor as a beloved trans auntie to several generations of gender rebels (though her use of the word “tranny” is controversial to some).
In this nonlinear exploration, director Sam Feder offers an affectionate introduction to Bornstein’s life and thought, with scenes drawn from her daily life, interviews with friends, and appearances as a performer and teacher. When faced with a serious health crisis, Bornstein’s grace and grounded wisdom illuminate this encounter with mortality.
Watching this movie feels like sitting down for a cup of tea with this influential and immensely likable activist, who, unlike some queer elders, praises and blesses the young ones who follow along trails that she helped blaze.
— Stella Maris
Kate Bornstein Is a Queer and Pleasant Danger: Dir Sam Feder 2013 USA-Canada 70 min
Community Partner: Bitch Media; Northwest Gender Alliance; Transgender Affinity Groups at Q Center
Meet John “The Dog” Wojtowicz – a Vietnam vet, bank robber, bisexual polygamist, gay activist and — last but not least — the real-life character behind Sidney Lumet’s 1975 film Dog Day Afternoon.
In a case where truth indeed proves stranger (and more radical) than fiction, Wojtowicz’s actual story proved to be too outrageous and far too queer for even hollywood of the ‘70s to fully commit to the screen. Vulgar, monomaniacal, passionately insightful and possibly dangerous, Wojtowicz is one of the most vivid characters brought to nonfiction cinema in years.
Directors Allison Berg and Frank Keraudren do comprehensive justice to the life and times of their subject by setting interviews from family, loved ones and eyewitnesses against especially well-used and evocative archival footage. Swinging between shock, poignancy and humor, The Dog gives us a true antihero who challenges our notions of sexual and social identity while making us question the fine and morally troubling line between passion and pathology. And finally, if you think John “The Dog” is an extraordinary character, wait till you meet his mother.
— Donal Mosher
The Dog: Dirs Allison Berg and Frank Keraudren 2013 USA 101 min
At a time when gender-nonconforming people are marginalized and mistreated the world over, Kumu Hinapresents an intimate portrait of a proud and confident mahu (transgender) teacher who is passing on ancient Hawaiian culture and traditions to her students as she searches for love and a fulfilling romantic relationship in her own life.
Over the course of a momentous year, Hina inspires a tomboyish young girl to claim her place as leader of a boys hula troupe, culminating in a rousing year-end performance at their inner-city public charter school. Hina also takes a chance at happiness when she marries an unpredictable young man from Tonga who finds it difficult to adjust to life in modern Honolulu.
As the trials and tribulations of Hina’s journey unfold, her Hawaiian roots and values give her the strength and wisdom to persevere, offering viewers a rare glimpse of island life that tourists rarely see and an understanding of the true meaning of aloha — unconditional love and respect for all.
Kumu Hina: Dirs Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson USA 2014 74 min
Community Partners: API Pride; Portland Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians and Gays; TransActive Gender Center
Winner of the Berlin International Film Festival Teddy Award for best documentary highlighting LGBT themes, The Circle brings documentary and narrative cinema together to tell the history of the first gay rights organization in Europe and the lives behind it. At the heart of this story is the marvelous romance of two men, Röbi and Ernst, who were not only at the political center of The Circle but went on to become the first gay men married in Zurich.
Spanning Switzerland’s tumultuous period between the ‘50s and present day, The Circle sets intimate contemporary interviews against a lushly re-created, almost pulp tale of closeted teachers, cabaret cross dressers, murderous rent boys, police raids and the endurance of love and free expression. If this weren’t enough, keep an eye on the subtle and poignant cameos by the wonderful Marianne Sägebrecht.
— Donal Mosher
The Circle: Dir Stefan Haupt Switzerland 2014 102 min
Community Partners: Gay and Lesbian Archives of the Pacific Northwest; SAGE Metro Portland; Zeitgeist Northwest; SMYRC
In the incongruously funny opening scene of My Prairie Home, trans singer-songwriter Rae Spoon performs amid local cowboys and farmers chowing down at a roadside diner in an unnamed prairie town. Director Chelsea McMullan’s seductively playful film reveals Spoon’s inspiring process of building a life as a transgender person and artist, featuring upbeat music and insightful musings in a journey across the Canadian heartland.
Spoon’s deeply personal lyrics are informed by a childhood growing up queer and trans in an evangelical Christian household. The music, however, is tied to the land, inspired by the meditative nature of traveling alone across endless prairies under enormous blue skies. Whether performing at truck stops, roadside diners or alt-country music taverns, Spoon occupies a space that is neither insider nor outsider but exists somewhere in between. Owning this space with a cool certainty, Spoon asserts, “The prairie is just as much mine as it is anyone else’s.”
Interspersed with witty, quirky music videos, My Prairie Home turns convention upside down — a perfect visual counterpart to Spoon’s music. But as thoughtfully structured as the film is, the real beauty is in getting to know this unique and talented artist.
My Prairie Home: Dir Chelsea McMullan 2013 Canada 76 min
Community Partners: Music Fest Northwest; PSU’s Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies Department; Siren Nation
George Takei has boldly gone where no man has gone before: In his iconic role as Mr. Sulu on Star Trek, he became one of the first Asian-American sex symbols on television. He narrowly lost a campaign for the Los Angeles City Council. He’s a fan favorite on The Howard Stern Show. And after coming out in 2005, Takei staged a late-career comeback as an outspoken civil rights activist and as the unofficial “King of Facebook,” with a following in excess of 6.5 million.
To Be Takei offers a fly-on-the-wall look at Takei and his husband, Brad, touring the country for sci-fi conventions and speaking engagements — including an appearance in Portland — while rehearsing the Broadway-bound musical Allegiance, inspired by his experience of growing up in Japanese-American internment camps during World War II.
Filmmaker Jennifer M. Kroot (It Came from Kuchar) intersperses inventive animation sequences with insightful interviews from Asian-American leaders (the late Hawaiian Senator Daniel Inouye, former Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta) and Star Trek shipmates (particularly priceless: Takei’s love-hate relationship with William Shatner, and Leonard Nimoy’s reaction to homoerotic fan fiction). Throughout it all, Takei guides the audience through his life with refreshing candor and his signature baritone laugh.
Hitting a career peak at age 77, George Takei shows us all how to live long and prosper.
— Jimmy Radosta
To Be Takei: Dir Jennifer M Kroot 2014 USA 90 min
Community Partners: API Pride; Portland Lesbian & Gay Film Festival; Portland Taiko
Wildness captures the creativity and conflict that arose when a group of young queer artists of color organized a weekly performance party at the Silver Platter, an historic bar in the east end of Los Angeles’ MacArthur Park neighborhood that has been home to the Latino LGBT community since 1963. The party, also called Wildness, became an incubator for queer performers, punks and dance music aficionados who shared the space with the bar’s established clientele of immigrant trans women. This unexpected collision of communities became a platform for cross-generational and cross-cultural queer alliance.
With a touch of magical realism, the bar itself becomes a character in the film, whispering the histories of the LGBT community for whom it has provided sanctuary for generations, away “from the ignorance, the fear and hatred of the outside world.” Paying homage to the place so many called home, Wildness guides viewers through the Silver Platter’s colorful and tumultuous history to its present-day existence, complete with intoxicating party footage and a potent, genre-melding soundtrack.
In his stunning first feature film, director Wu Tsang succeeds in addressing issues of immigration, gentrification, identification, class and community with an exciting and authentic voice, utilizing creative twists on the standard documentary format.
In English and Spanish, with Spanish and English subtitles
Wildness: Dir Wu Tsang 2012 USA 73 min.
Community Partners: Causa Oregon; Portland Institute for Contemporary Art; Portland Latino Gay Pride