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LGBT Film Notes

LGBT Films at Sundance 2016


Shout LGBTQ Film Festival in Birmingham

August 2016


The 2016 Shout LGBTQ Film Festival will take place on August 27-28, in Birmingham, in the downtown theatre district.  The Shout LGBTQ Film Festival is part of the Sidewalk Film Festival, which is an annual event that highlights independent films and filmmakers nationwide and locally.  The Opening Night Film, "Kiki," will be shown on Wednesday August 24, at 7:00 PM, at Saturn, 200 41st Street South.  The Shout Shorts will be shown on Saturday August 27, 2016 10:30 AM - 12:10 PM, at ASFA Recital Hall, 1800 Reverend Abraham Woods Jr Blvd.  Here is a list of the short features:

Bird Of Prey / Director: Marion Hill
Sign / Director: Andrew Keenan-Bolger
Deep End / Director: Ruby Drake
First Night Out / Director: Will Mayo
The Escape Hatch / Director: David Willing
Dawn / Director: Jake Graff
Pronouns / Director: Michael Paulucci
Queens / Director: Lucas Omar
Why I'm Afraid / Director: Tanner Robbins
1985 / Director: Yen Tan
Out In Alabama / Director: Bonnie Blue Edwards
Ending the Silence / Directors: Jo Badgett, Geena Marshall



Sidewalk Film Festival Aug 26-28

Shout LGBTQ Film Festival Aug 27-28


LGBT Movie News


April 2014


Fandor: Best LGBT Films

New Film: The Normal Heart

100 Greatest Gay Movies

Best LGBT Films of All Time

Films Celebrating LGBT History

LGBT Pride Films 2013

Being Gay in Hollywood


Michael Douglas and Matt Damon in Film About Liberace

January 2013


The forthcoming HBO biopic, Behind the Candelabra, tells the story of flamboyant pianist Liberace and his long-term lover, Scott Thorson.  Michael Douglas portrays Liberace and Matt Damon plays the part of Scott Thorson.



"These two men were deeply in love and in a real relationship, a marriage, long before there was gay marriage," Damon says of the real-life pair. "That’s not an insignificant thing. The script is beautiful and relatable. Their conversations when they’re dressing or undressing or having a spat or getting ready for bed? That’s every marriage."





Huff Post: Rumors of Bromance Between Matt Damon & Ben Affleck

IMDB: Behind the Candelabra


Daniel Radcliffe in Film About Allen Ginsberg

January 2013


Daniel Radcliffe has said goodbye to playing Harry Potter, but in his new film role the 22-year-old actor looks very similar to a grown up version of the boy wizard. Well, a grown up Harry with a 1950s hair cut and a new pair of specs. Dan will play gay Beat Generation writer Allen Ginsberg in artsy new movie Kill Your Darlings, and he has been spotted filming in New York with his co-star Dane DeHanne. We actually think Dan looks really cute rocking this reto hipster look.


This will be another edgy role for Dan as the Beat Generation writers experimented with their sexuality and drugs.  Dan himself is used to speculation about his sexuality, and the millionaire actor has admitted that he found the media’s suggestion that he’s gay funny.  “I had to smile when stories emerged questioning whether I was gay. Obviously I knew I wasn’t but people were curiously desperate to suggest I was. The papers used to say I had a gay face, whatever that is, or a gay voice but it simply wasn’t true. Now I have a girlfriend so I’m guessing everyone finally believes me. When you know a gay guy has a crush on you it’s the most flattering thing.”




Daniel Radcliffe as Beat Poet Alan Ginsberg

IMDB: Kill Your Darlings


Keith Hartman: Huntsville Film Maker


August 2012


Keith Hartman, who grew up in Huntsville, Alabama, describes himself as an author and struggling filmmaker. He currently lives in West Hollywood, California.  In 2009 Keith shot several marriage-equality public service announcements, designed to poke fun at California’s ban on same-sex marriage.


In 2010 Keith’s first feature film hit the festival circuit. You Should Meet My Son! won “Best Picture” at four film festivals, as well as awards for “Best Screenplay”, “Best Actress”, and “Best Supporting Actress”. It’s now available on DVD on Amazon.




His first book was Congregations in Conflict, an examination of nine different churches and how they dealt with the issue of homosexuality, sometimes in surprising ways -- like the Southern Baptist Church which voted to marry two gay men, the order of seventy year old celibate monks who all came out of the closet together, and the Black Catholic church which expelled its gay organization in order to be more "inclusive". The book was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award, and Keith appeared as a guest on NPR's Talk of the Nation in conjunction with it.


His second book, The Gumshoe, the Witch, and the Virtual Corpse is one of those novels that really confuses book store owners, because they can never figure out which section of the shop to put it in. The critics have alternately described it as science fiction, mystery, social commentary, magic realism, and even a coming of age story. It won two Spectrum Awards for gay science fiction, was picked as one of the "Ten Best Novels of the Year" by The Drood Review of Mysteries, and was a double nominee for the Lambda Literary Awards in the Mystery and Science Fiction categories.


His third book, Gumshoe Gorilla was also a nominee for the Lambda Award.


Keith’s latest novella, Murder under the Buried Sky, came out in 2011.  Future projects include a graphic novel titled Vampire Strippers Must Die!  His latest feature began shooting in June 2012.



Video 1: The Defenders of Traditional Marriage

Video 2: The Marriage License

Video 3: Changing Times

Keith Hartman Website

IMDB: Keith Hartman


It's Time to Take a Stand Against Bullying

March 2012


This year, over 5 million American kids will be bullied at school, online, on the bus, at home, through their cell phones and on the streets of their towns, making it the most common form of violence young people in this country experience. The Bully Project is the first feature documentary film to show how we've all been affected by bullying, whether we've been victims, perpetrators or stood silent witness. The world we inhabit as adults begins on the playground.


The Bully Project opened on the first day of school. For the more than 5 million kids who'll be bullied this year in the United States, it's a day filled with more anxiety and foreboding than excitement. As the sun rises and school busses across the country overflow with backpacks, brass instruments and the rambunctious sounds of raging hormones, this is a ride into the unknown. For a lot of kids, the only thing that's certain is that this year.



Trailer for Film: Bully
Time Mag: A Punishing Movie Your Kids Must See
The Bully Project


SPLC Film About Bullying


February 2011


The Southern Poverty Law Center documentary film "Bullied" has been shown in various locations throughout the state, including UAB and AUM. Most recently, it was shown at the ALGBTICAL Winter Workshop in Birmingham.  The film is a classroom documentary designed to combat anti-gay bullying. The film highlights the destructive power and the tragic consequences of anti-gay bullying. SPLC President Richard Cohen and co-founder Morris Dees emphasize the need for schools to adopt strong anti-bullying policies that specifically protect gay and lesbian students.



“We’ve seen a number of teens take their own lives after enduring anti-gay harassment,” Cohen said. “Each tragedy is a sobering reminder of our responsibility to take a stand against anti-gay bullying in our schools. Bullied is a way for students and educators to confront this issue head on.”  Bullied chronicles the powerful story of Jamie Nabozny, a student who stood up to his anti-gay tormentors and won a landmark federal court decision that school officials could be held accountable for not stopping the harassment and abuse of gay students.




SPLC's New Film to Combat Anti-Gay Bullying
Order Your Free Copy of the SPLC Film "Bullied"
SPLC Teaching Tolerance
SPLC Fighting Hate



Birmingham Shout Gay and Lesbian Film Festival


"Shout" is the name of the gay and lesbian film festival of Alabama. Presented annually in Birmingham since 2005, the Shout Film Festival features independent films with LGBT themes and subject matter.  In the past few years, the Shout Film Festival has been incorporated into the annual Birmingham Sidewalk Film Festival and has been presented in late August.  Each year the event features an impressive collection of LGBT drama, comedy and documentary films.


Hit So Hard

Wish Me Away

Bite Marks

Agile (good Boy)


Oh My God

This is What Love in Action Looks Like

The Green

I Am

The Wise Kids




When Judith Met Theo


Our Wedding

Sassy Pants

Thank You for Judging


Deep South
My Bes
t Day
Naked As We Came
The Silent Thief
Ballroom Rules
Unfit: Ward vs Ward
All the Way Through Evening
Nate & Margaret
Blues for Willadean

Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls
An Ordinary Cou

Bear Nation
Forever's Gonna Start Tonight

Play in the Gray
Trans Francisco
Marine Story
Battle of Pussy Willow Creek

Blackmail Boys

I Killed My Mother


Click Here to Learn More About Birmingham Shout

Click Here to Visit the Birmingham Shout Website

Memphis Outflix LGBT Film Festival

Film About Stonewall Event

The documentary film, "Stonewall Uprising," by Kate Davis and David Heilbroner, was first shown in June 2010.  It recounts the June 1969 police raid on the Stonewall gay bar in Greenwich Village that led to three days of violence.  In that confrontation that surprised police, suddenly militant gays simply had enough and fought back and won.  It was, as one participant describes it here, their "Rosa Parks moment."


The New York Times calls the Stonewall incident "the turning point in gay rights history." This film methodically provides historical context for the events, supplying ample evidence of the discrimination against gays and lesbians at the time. Mike Wallace probably will be none too happy about an excerpt from a 1966 "CBS Reports" news special in which he declares that "the average homosexual is promiscuous and not interested in, nor capable of, a lasting relationship."

There also are accounts of electro-shock aversion therapy administered to homosexuals, as well as a drug given at a California mental hospital that is described as "chemical waterboarding."

But the heart of the film is the accounts of the riots, with commentary by such figures as former Village Voice journalists Howard Smith and Lucian Truscott IV (the paper's offices were virtually next door at the time), several of the people who participated in the uprising, commentators including former New York Mayor Ed Koch and playwright Doric Wilson and even the former NYPD inspector who led the raid. The cop, Seymour Pine, clearly was shocked by the violent resistance they encountered, describing the proceedings as a "real war."

There have been several significant films documenting the struggle for gay civil rights, including "Before Stonewall" and "After Stonewall." "Stonewall Uprising" skillfully fills the gap in between.




Theatrical Trailer for Stonewall Uprising
Hollywood Reporter: Film Review of Stonewall Uprising
AV Club: Article on Stonewall Uprising
Film Forum: Stonewall Uprising

New York Times: Stonewall Uprising


Film About Harvey Milk Starring Sean Penn

Sean Penn was awarded an Oscar for Best Actor for his portrayal of slain San Francisco gay rights activist Harvey Milk in the film, Milk.  In his acceptance speech he acknowledged the protesters who were present at the event and defended same sex marriage.  The straight actor's portrayal of an openly gay politician was a timely one -- with "Milk" coming out shortly after California's same-sex couples lost their right to marry in a voter referendum. "I think it is a good time for those who voted for the ban against gay marriage to sit and reflect and anticipate their great shame and the shame in their grandchildren's eyes if they continue that way," Penn said. "We've got to have equal rights for everyone."





View His Acceptance Speech on YouTube
Read the Reuters Report

Gus Van Zant's latest film, Milk, starring Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, and James Frano, tells a griping story of the life of Harvey Milk, an American politician and the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California, as a member of the San Francisco Board of SupervisorsMilk soaked up some awards-season glory recently, being named best film by the New York Film Critics Circle.   Sean Penn, who stars in the biopic as '70s gay-rights leader Harvey Milk, was named best actor, and Josh Brolin won best supporting actor for his role as the assassin in the movie, the Associated Press reports. The New York group concurred with the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, which named Penn best actor.  Milk also received one Golden Globe nomination for Sean Penn as Best Actor.

Milk was born and raised in New York where he acknowledged his homosexuality as an adolescent, but chose to pursue sexual relationships with secrecy and discretion well into his adult years. His experience in the counterculture of the 1960s caused him to shed many of his conservative views about individual freedom and the expression of sexuality.

Milk moved to San Francisco in 1972 and settled in the Castro District, a neighborhood that was experiencing a mass influx of gay men and lesbians. He felt compelled to run for city supervisor in 1973, though he encountered resistance from the existing gay political establishment. His campaign was compared to theater; he was brash, outspoken, animated, and outrageous, earning media attention and votes, although not enough to be elected. He campaigned again in the next two supervisor elections, dubbing himself the "Mayor of Castro Street". Voters responded enough to warrant his running for the California State Assembly as well. Taking advantage of his growing popularity, he led the gay political movement in fierce battles against anti-gay initiatives. Milk was elected city supervisor in 1977 after San Francisco reorganized its election procedures to choose representatives from neighborhoods rather than through city-wide ballots.  Milk served almost eleven months as city supervisor and was responsible for passing a stringent gay rights ordinance in San Francisco. On November 27, 1978, Mayor George Moscone and Milk were assassinated by Dan White, another city supervisor who had recently resigned and wanted his job back.


Film in Focus
People Magazine
Hollywood Reporter
KQED: Harvey Milk, Hero & Martyr
Harvey Milk: The Forgotten Populist
SF Gate
Time Magazine: 100 Heroes


Academy Award for Brokeback Mountain


"Brokeback Mountain is... about not just all the gay men whose love is denied by society, but most importantly, the greatness of love itself."
-Ang Lee, Academy Award Winner for Best Director


Message from Joe, Solmonese, HRC President:


For me, there was a little more excitement in the air at this year's Oscars. It wasn't the stars, the red carpet glamour, or even the tearful acceptance speeches. My excitement was that tonight's 78th Annual Academy Awards proved one thing beyond the shadow of a doubt: Americans are ready to hear our stories. Stories of acceptance, stories of compassion, stories of love.  America honored three films that portrayed gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender characters with compassion and honesty. Capote, TransAmerica, and Brokeback Mountain each brought gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender stories to movie theaters, the front pages of newspapers, and, most importantly, the everyday conversations of millions of Americans this year. All across the country, these stories are touching lives and changing minds.

Most of the Oscar buzz focused on Brokeback Mountain, the deeply moving story of two men who meet and fall in love on a ranch in Wyoming. The sad fact is that, just like the characters in the movie, real-life same-sex couples are denied full equality every day. With the country's attention focused on issues affecting gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans, this is a perfect time to take a stand for marriage equality.

With eight nominations - more than any other film this year - the overwhelming success of Brokeback Mountain proved once again that when Americans are exposed to the truth about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals, almost all react with openness, inclusiveness, and acceptance. And it's not just the movies that are bringing these simple truths to people around the country - you do, too, every time you talk about GLBT equality with friends, family, and co-workers.

It was also a joy to see Felicity Huffman nominated for Best Actress for her exceptional portrayal of a transgender woman in TransAmerica. Her performance offers a window into a world that most Americans never see - or choose to ignore. And when they see that world, they know that it's not so scary, it's not so different, and that it deserves the respect that Human Rights Campaign fights for every day.

The Oscars are a great spectacle every year. But this year, I'm happy to say that the Academy also honored beautiful films that showed some of the real-life struggles of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals - and that reflect a growing understanding and acceptance across America.  Congratulations to Gustavo Santaolalla, Larry McMurtry, Diana Ossana, and Ang Lee of Brokeback Mountain; to Philip Seymour Hoffman of Capote; and to all the other Academy Award winners.

(From Joe Solmonese, HRC President)




Rotten Tomatoes: Review of Brokeback Mountain
Yahoo Movies: Brokeback Mountain
Roger Ebert: Review of Brokeback Mountain


Two Gay Cowboys Hit a Home Run

What if they held a culture war and no one fired a shot? That’s the compelling tale of ‘’Brokeback Mountain.’’ Here is a heavily promoted American movie depicting two men having sex—the precise sex act that was still a crime in some states until the Supreme Court struck down sodomy laws just two and a half years ago—but there is no controversy, no Fox News tar and feathering, no roar from the religious right. ‘’Brokeback Mountain’’ has instead become the unlikely Oscar favorite, propelled by its bicoastal sweep of critics’ awards, by its unexpected dominance of the far less highfalutin Golden Globes and, perhaps most of all, by the lure of a gold rush. Last weekend it opened to the highest per-screen average of any movie this year.

Those screens were in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco—hardly national bellwethers. But I’ll rashly predict that the big Hollywood question posed on the front page of The Los Angeles Times after those stunning weekend grosses—‘’Can ‘Brokeback Mountain’ Move the Heartland?’’—will be answered with a resounding yes. All the signs of a runaway phenomenon are present, from an instant parody on ‘’Saturday Night Live’’ to the report that a multiplex in Plano, Tex., sold more advance tickets for the so-called ‘’gay cowboy picture’’ than for ‘’King Kong.’’ ‘’The culture is finding us,’’ James Schamus, the ‘’Brokeback Mountain’’ producer, told USA Today. ‘’Grown-up movies have never had that kind of per-screen average. You only get those numbers when you’re vacuuming up enormous interest from all walks of life.’’

In the packed theater where I caught ‘’Brokeback Mountain,’’ the trailers included a National Guard recruitment spiel, and the audience was demographically all over the map. The culture is seeking out this movie not just because it is a powerful, four-hankie account of a doomed love affair and is beautifully acted by everyone, starting with the riveting Heath Ledger. The X factor is that the film delivers a story previously untold by A-list Hollywood. It’s a story America may be more than ready to hear a year after its president cynically flogged a legally superfluous (and unpassable) constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage for the sole purpose of whipping up the basest hostilities of his electoral base.

By coincidence, ‘’Brokeback Mountain,’’ a movie that is all the more subversive for having no overt politics, is a rebuke and antidote to that sordid episode. Whether it proves a movie for the ages or as transient as ‘’Love Story,’’ it is a landmark in the troubled history of America’s relationship to homosexuality. It brings something different to the pop culture marketplace at just the pivotal moment to catch a wave.

Heaven knows there has been no shortage of gay-themed entertainment in recent years. To the tedious point of ubiquity, gay characters, many of them updated reincarnations of the stereotypical fops and fussbudgets of 1930’s studio comedies, are at least as well represented as other minorities in prime-time television. Entertainment Weekly has tallied nine movies, including ‘’Capote’’ and ‘’Rent,’’ with major gay characters this year. But ‘’Brokeback Mountain,’’ besides being more sexually candid than the norm, is not set in urban America, is not comic or camp, and, unlike the breakout dramas ‘’Philadelphia’’ and ‘’Angels in America,’’ is pre-AIDS.

Its heroes are neither midnight cowboys, drugstore cowboys nor Village People cowboys. As Annie Proulx writes in the brilliant short story from which the movie has been adapted, the two ranch hands, Ennis Del Mar (Mr. Ledger) and Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal), are instead simply ‘’high school dropout country boys with no prospects, brought up to hard work and privation, both rough-mannered, rough-spoken, inured to the stoic life.’’

They meet and fall in love while tending sheep in the Wyoming wilderness in 1963. That was the year of Martin Luther King Jr.’s march on Washington and Betty Friedan’s ‘’Feminine Mystique,’’ but gay Americans, and not just in Wyoming, were stranded, still waiting for the world to start spinning forward. Over the next two decades of sporadic reunions and long separations, both Ennis and Jack get married and have children; it barely occurs to them to do otherwise. In their place and time, there is no vocabulary to articulate their internal conflicts, no path to steer their story to a happily-ever-after Hollywood ending. Before they know it, they are, in Ms. Proulx’s words, ‘’no longer young men with all of it before them.’’

Ennis’s and Jack’s acute emotions—yearning, loneliness, disappointment, loss, love and, yes, lust—are affecting because they are universal. But while the screenplay, by Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana, adheres closely to the Proulx original, it even more vividly roots the movie in the rural all-American milieu, with its forlorn honky-tonks and small-town Fourth of July picnics, familiar from elegiac McMurtry works like ‘’The Last Picture Show.’’ More crucially, the script adds detail to Ennis’s and Jack’s wives (as do Michelle Williams and Anne Hathaway, who play them) so that we can implicitly, and without any on-screen moralizing, see the cost inflicted on entire families, not just on Ennis and Jack, when gay people must live a lie.

Though ‘’Brokeback Mountain’’ is not a western, it’s been directed by Ang Lee with the austerity and languorous gait of a John Ford epic. These aesthetics couldn’t be more country miles removed from ‘’The Birdcage’’ or ‘’Will & Grace.’’ The audience is forced to recognize that gay people were fixtures in the red state of Wyoming (and every other corner of the country, too) long before Matthew Shepard and Mary Cheney were born. Without a single polemical speech, this laconic film dramatizes homosexuality as an inherent and immutable identity, rather than some aberrant and elective ‘’agenda’’ concocted by conspiratorial ‘’elites’’ in Chelsea, the Castro and South Beach, as anti-gay proselytizers would have it. Ennis and Jack long for a life together, not for what gay baiters pejoratively label a ‘’lifestyle.’’

But in truth the audience doesn’t have to be coerced to get it. This is where the country has been steadily moving of late. ‘’Brokeback Mountain,’’ a Hollywood product after all, is not leading a revolution but ratifying one, fleshing out—quite literally—what most Americans now believe. It’s not for nothing that the proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage vanished as soon as the election was over. Polls show that a large American majority support equal rights for gay couples as long as the unions aren’t labeled ‘’marriage’’—and given the current swift pace of change, that reservation, too, will probably fade in the next 5 to 10 years.

The history of ‘’Brokeback Mountain’’ as a film project in itself crystallizes how fast the climate has shifted. Mr. McMurtry and Ms. Ossana bought the screen rights to the Proulx story after it was published in The New Yorker in 1997. That was the same year the religious right declared a fatwa on Disney because Ellen DeGeneres came out of the closet in her ABC prime-time sitcom. In the eight years it took ‘’Brokeback Mountain’’ to overcome Hollywood’s shilly-shallying and at last be made, the Disney boycott collapsed and Ms. DeGeneres’s star rose. She’s now a mainstream daytime talk-show host competing with Oprah. No one has forgotten she’s a lesbian. No one cares.

ANOTHER startling snapshot of this progress can be found in a culture-war skirmish that unfolded just as ‘’Brokeback Mountain’’ was arriving at the multiplex. The American Family Association of Tupelo, Miss., a leader in the 1997 anti-’’Ellen’’ crusade, claimed this month that its threat of a boycott had led Ford to stop advertising its Jaguar and Land Rover lines in glossy gay magazines. Last week Ford, under fire from gay civil-rights organizations and no doubt many other mainstream customers, essentially told the would-be boycotters to get lost by publicly announcing that it would not only resume its Jaguar and Land Rover ads in gay publications, but advertise other brands in them as well.

As far as I can tell, the only blowhard in the country to turn up on television to declare culture war on ‘’Brokeback Mountain’’ also has an affiliation with the American Family Association. By contrast, as Salon reported last week, other family-values ayatollahs have made a conscious decision to ignore the movie, lest they drum up ticket sales by turning it into a SpongeBob SquarePants cause celebre. Robert Knight of Concerned Women for America imagined that the film might just go away if he and his peers stayed mum. Audiences ‘’don’t want to see two guys going at it,’’ he told Salon. ‘’It’s that simple.’’

So he might wish. The truth is that the millions of moviegoers soon to swoon over the star-crossed gay cowboys of ‘’Brokeback Mountain’’ can probably put up with the sight of ‘’two guys going at it.’’ It’s the all too American tragedy of what happens to these men afterward that neither our hearts nor consciences can so easily shake.


(From Frank Rich / New York Times)


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Association for Lesbian Gay Bisexual & Transgender Issues in Counseling of Alabama