QDoc 2015

GAME FACE

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“I keep my game face on, before and after the game.” So speaks Terrence Clemens, one of two extraordinarily courageous athletes who are followed by filmmaker Michiel Thomas as they navigate the delicate process of coming out within their respective sports.

Terrence is a young, ambitious and talented college basketball player, with a somewhat troubled past. Fallon Fox is trans, lesbian and a formidable and well-known Mixed Martial Arts competitor. Both realize that coming out will be necessary for their own sense of integrity and peace of mind, but the lack of a clear roadmap and the unpredictable consequences instill understandable anxiety and caution. Both Fallon and Terrence generously share their inner selves, their strengths and their vulnerabilities, and welcome us into their struggles.


Filmmaker Thomas has been trusted with incredibly intimate access into the subjects’ lives. Filming inside locker rooms, strategy meetings and training sessions, Thomas manages to capture friends, colleagues, family and the crackling energy of the competitive sports world without blowing the cover of these athletes as they are trying, not quite successfully, to maintain control of their emergence. Thomas captures the complex camaraderie of Terrence’s team and coach, of the bond between Fallon and her trainers, and Fallon’s beautiful relationship with a loving and supportive daughter.

Thomas’s first feature film, Game Face is beautifully shot and sensitively and intelligently constructed. Exciting, moving and inspiring, it is a magnificent achievement.
Community Partner:  PFLAG Portland Black Chapter

PACKED IN A TRUNK: THE LOST ART OF EDITH LAKE WILKINSON

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What kind of world would we live in if people didn’t open old trunks found in attics? Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Jane Anderson made it her mission to recover and bring to light the amazing artwork of her great aunt Edith Lake Wilkinson, long forgotten in such a trunk.

Committed to an insane asylum in 1924, most likely because she was a lesbian, Wilkinson was conveniently forgotten by the male-dominated art world. Anderson, along with her partner, Tess Ayers, take us on their journey as they uncover family secrets, social repression and secret loves. Right before her commitment, Wilkinson was at the height of her creativity, living among the legendary arts community of early 1900s Provincetown, Massachusetts.

Director Michelle Boyaner’s Packed in a Trunk is beautifully shot and shows Provincetown at its best. The town comes together to celebrate Aunt Edith’s work in a newly mounted show at the same gallery where her work had originally hung. It slowly becomes clear that she may have been the originator of a well-known “white line” wood block technique that would have placed her firmly in the art history books. Anderson makes it her mission to ensure her aunt’s legacy will be preserved, leaving no chance that it will ever end up in a trunk again.
—Jennifer Morris

WE CAME TO SWEAT: THE LEGEND OF STARLITE

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“We all had a common goal—and that was to sweat our asses off.”

That’s the unofficial mission statement of Starlite Lounge, which held a proud distinction as the “oldest black-owned, nondiscriminating bar/club in the heart of Brooklyn.” A pre – Stonewall landmark in the rapidly changing Crown Heights neighborhood, Starlite boasted patrons, performers and proprietors who formed a tight-knit family, creating community connection for a population that often had nowhere else they could feel so welcomed.

But despite surviving the devastation of the AIDS crisis and rampant street violence, Starlite was confronted with a tidal wave of gentrification. After a half-century in business, they were given a 30-day eviction notice to vacate the premises.

In We Came to Sweat, filmmakers Kate Kunath and Sasha Wortzel introduce us to the club’s devoted habitues (including house mother Mama Dot and resident performer Lady Jasmin) while documenting the passionate campaign to save Starlite against all odds. “When we lose historical institutions like the Starlite Lounge,” an activist shouts through a megaphone, “we lose a part of our history, we lose a part of our culture and we lose a part of ourselves.”

Despite formidable obstacles, supporters remain resolute, vowing to keep the Starlite spirit alive: “We’re going to be bigger and we’re going to be stronger. Nothing is going to hold the Starlite down.”
—Jimmy Radosta

TAB HUNTER CONFIDENTIAL

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Director Jeffrey Schwarz (Vito and I Am Divine) returns to QDoc for the third time with this loving portrait of one the great Hollywood heartthrobs of the ‘50s and ‘60s. Tab Hunter was a household name, the epitome of the 1950s all-American boy. Told mostly through Hunter’s own words, the movie also features interviews with John Waters, Debbie Reynolds, George Takei and Clint Eastwood.

Teenager Art Kelm’s jaw-dropping good looks caused so much disruption among the girls in high school that he dropped out and joined the Coast Guard. His face (and physique) soon caught the eye of Hollywood. Renamed Tab Hunter, he debuted with a performance so bad even his mother told him, “You were lousy.” But a string of hit movies followed, along with a singing career that instantly scored a No. 1 hit (knocking Elvis to second place).

Even the revelation (in notorious Confidential magazine) that America’s teen heartthrob had been arrested at a “limp-wristed pajama party” didn’t stop Tab’s skyrocketing career. Nor did his well-disguised love affair with fellow movie star Tony Perkins. But when Tab bucked the studio system, a rocky road lay ahead—leading to an unlikely career comeback starring opposite drag superstar Divine in Polyester and Lust in the Dust.

In charting Hunter’s giddy highs and grueling lows, Tab Hunter Confidential is a meditation on the quicksilver nature of fame —and the story of one gay man’s path to inner peace.
—Steven Saylor

THE ROYAL ROAD

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“I want people to like me; to fall in love with me, simply because it makes me feel better. I’m always searching for the thing that will make me feel better, and so often, that thing is a girl.”

Archivist, historian, filmmaker, film lover and eminent butch, Jenni Olson has brought her passions together in this utterly original and experimental essay film. Fresh from its world premiere at Sundance, The Royal Road weaves the disparate threads of California’s Spanish colonial history, the Mexican-American War, unrequited loves and plots from revered Hollywood movies into a cinematic masterwork on nostalgia, identity and impermanence.

Like the disembodied monologues from her favorite Hollywood melodramas, Olson’s wry, self-deprecating narration effortlessly travels through personal stories of unobtainable romance, pre-Gold Rush-era California and Hitchcock’s Vertigo, among other themes. Accompanied by sumptuous cinematography of static, unpopulated urban landscapes, the journey up and down El Camino Real (The Royal Road) penetrates deeply with a poetic vision, and is a film unlike any you have seen.

As much as the film reminisces on the Golden Age of Hollywood and the golden state of California, Olson presents a profound case for a golden state of mind in which we accept that history continues with or without us and memory serves to illuminate the present, exposing a journey of self-discovery and the beauty of the everyday

LIMITED PARTNERSHIP

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In 1975, something extraordinary happened and you may know nothing about it.

That year, in Boulder, Colorado, a courageous county clerk began issuing marriage licenses to same -sex couples after realizing there was no legal basis not to. Upon hearing this, Filipino -American Richard Adams and his Australian partner, Anthony Sullivan, hoped they had found a way to stay together. They flew to Boulder and became one of the first samesex couples in the world to legally marry.

After the wedding, Richard filed for a green card for Tony, based on their legal marriage. Soon after, however, the couple received an ugly denial letter from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. Outraged by the language and politics of this letter— and in an effort to avoid Tony’s deportation—Richard and Tony sued the U.S. government. This was the first federal lawsuit seeking equal recognition for same-sex marriage in the history of the United States.

Director Thomas G. Miller’s film masterfully and comprehensively chronicles more than 40 years of the struggle for marriage equality and immigration reform in the United States through the very personal lens of Richard and Tony’s long-standing love and commitment to each other. Their hitherto unknown efforts have helped pave the way to the more equal world we live in today.

THE CULT OF JT LEROY

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With the publication of the autobiographical novels Sarah and The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things, teenager JT LeRoy was hailed as a literary prodigy whose writing gave a raw and necessary window into teen prostitution, drug addiction, homelessness, homophobia and living with HIV. LeRoy’s rising fame brought him into an ever-widening circle of writers, actors and pop stars such as Gus Van Sant, Lou Reed, Sandra Bernhardt, Shirley Manson and many more who championed JT’s work and even read for him in public when the pathologically fragile author could not face an audience.

However, in this bright limelight, questions soon emerged about the young author’s background, shifting gender identification and strange position as voice of the streets but celebrity darling. The investigation that followed became one of the most outlandish and emotionally charged media exploits of the decade. The Cult of JT LeRoy is both a gripping literary mystery and a deeply layered examination of the borderlines between sympathy, exploitation and psychosis. Whether you know the story or not, the questions director Marjorie Sturm raises about expression and identity are perhaps more relevant in our self-saturated era than they were when the mercurial figure of JT LeRoy first emerged.
—Donal Mosher

THE YEAR WE THOUGHT ABOUT LOVE

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What happens when LGBTQ youth of color band together and dare to be “out” on stage about their lives and their loves?

True Colors is a Boston-based theater troupe that raises LGBTQ awareness by performing to middle and high school students, social workers, friends and family. For this season, they have decided to explore the topic of “queer love” in all of its manifestations.

Director Ellen Brodsky introduces us to an incredibly inspiring group of young people who use the power of dramatic expression to cope with their own conflicts. Alyssa has been kicked out of the house for coming out as trans. Chi is struggling with acceptance from his conservative Baptist church. Giftson is a Haitian-American who’s already endured tragic violence in his personal life.

The Year We Thought About Love brings us inside the collaborative creative process in which these young personalities grow into sharp, empowered performers. After the Boston Marathon bombs explode yards from their rehearsal space, the troupe becomes even more determined to share their stories of love to help their city heal.
—Jimmy Radosta

EL HOMBRE NUEVO (THE NEW MAN)

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About 15 minutes into El Hombre Nuevo (The New Man), Stephania Mirza Curbelo is asked to talk about the times she’s felt discriminated against. Stephania shrugs, cracks a smile and answers straightforwardly: “Ah, todo la vida [Well, all my life].”


Award-winning Uruguayan filmmaker Aldo Garay has followed Stephania for more than 20 years. In this vibrant and lyrical film, Garay introduces Stephania, wandering somewhat mysteriously through the streets of Montevideo, Uruguay, her adopted home of several decades. We accompany her on a journey home to Nicaragua to reconnect with the family she hasn’t seen since she was known as a boy named Roberto who taught literacy as a child activist in the Sandinista Revolution. Each step of Stephania’s journey brings unexpected texture into this richly engaging character study.

El Hombre Nuevo, which won the Berlin International Film Festival’s 2015 Teddy Award for Best Documentary, tells the story of Stephania’s personal struggle as shaped by religion, poverty, war and sexual politics. Although Stephania continues to meet adversity and discrimination, she faces these obstacles and the contradictions of her life with an abiding determination that is simultaneously dignified and heroic.

FEELINGS ARE FACTS: THE LIFE OF YVONNE RAINER

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In 1962, Yvonne Rainer and a group of maverick choreographers known as Judson Dance Theater revolutionized modern dance by introducing everyday gestures like walking and running, performing in street clothes and sneakers, and screaming and yelling into the dance lexicon.

Rainer’s work, which avoids narrative and character in favor of repetition and randomness, caused a furor among audiences and critics with its fierce refusal merely to entertain. The dance footage in Feelings Are Facts—and the interviews with Rainer—are  nonetheless riveting, galvanized by the spare and supple presence of her “recalcitrant, undancerly body.” Over time, her works became increasingly personal and political.

In the early 1970s, Rainer turned to experimental filmmaking. During the next 25 years, she created an extraordinary series of films that view power, privilege and inequality through the lens of her unique feminist and artistic sensibility. A MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant recipient and breast cancer survivor, Rainer fell in love with a woman and came out at theage of 56.  Now 80, she is still working on the stage, after Mikhail Baryshnikov persuaded her to make a belated comeback as a choreographer in 2000. Her work—and this film— are required viewing for iconoclasts and all who appreciate them.
—Stella Maris

LARRY KRAMER IN LOVE & ANGER

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Director Jean Carlomusto’s HBO biopic beautifully captures the complex, irrepressible, inspirational, exasperating and never un-interesting essence of Larry Kramer.

Widely known as the founder of ACT-UP and as one of the most unrelenting voices of AIDS activism, Kramer is fleshed out through remarkable archival materials and forthright interviews with friends, family and colleagues. We’re introduced to Larry as a child in a very tempestuous family; learn of his struggles with coming out at Yale in the ‘50s. After establishing himself as a highly successful screenwriter whose credits included Ken Russell’s Women in Love, Kramer outraged many in the gay community with the publication of his first novel, Faggots.

As with every gay man of his generation, Kramer’s life was upended by the coming of AIDS—and his rage at both the powers-that-be and frequently at his own community led him to the founding of Gay Men’s Health Crisis in New York and subsequently ACT-UP. Kramer’s wrenching, mostly autobiographical play, 1984’s The Normal Heart, was one of the first theatrical productions to deal with the AIDS epidemic.

Filmmaker Carlomusto, a longtime colleague of Kramer’s, manages to create a tender yet unflinching portrait of a man whom few would describe as tender. Larry Kramer in Love & Angerbeautifully humanizes this larger-than-life man; his brilliance, tenacity and vulnerability are explored with intelligence and deep sensitivity.