Tag Archives: Queer Film

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Wizards, Spaceships, and the Queers Who Love Them by


I had never heard the term “queer” – in a positive context, at least – until I was a freshman in college. I never saw Paris is Burning until the year after that. Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit collected dust in the back of my bookshelf, lest my Catholic mother catch a glimpse of it and keel over in shock. My exposure to queer art and media as a teenager was limited, to say the least. Even with the endless resource that is the Mighty Internet, the sheer volume of information out there overwhelmed me.

However, being a giant nerd, I went to the next best thing: slash fiction.

A fantasy and science fiction fan since I was a kid, I’d been reading fan fiction since the fourth Harry Potter book. Slashfic, which features same-sex characters in romantic pairings, was only a click away.

On a cloudy evening in 2009, over twenty-five women, including myself, crowded into a cramped hotel room in Philadelphia. In their day-to-day lives, they were housewives, college students, archeologists, lawyers, nannies, and sign language interpreters, but that night, they were all the same thing: fan girls. Specifically, they were gathered for MiniMerlin 2009, the first unofficial fan convention for Merlin, a new Arthurian legend-inspired show on the BBC. Out of desperation to gain some semblance of order in the midst of this gaggle of chattering fans, someone popped in a DVD and shouted above the din, “The vid show is starting!”

Avery WillardNews & Updates

ISOAW: New Festival Dates Announced! by


We are thrilled to announce that IN SEARCH OF AVERY WILLARD, shot concurrently and and featured in KEEP THE LIGHTS ON, will have it’s New York premiere at the 2012 Northside Festival in Brooklyn and will join KTLO at the Frameline Film Festival in San Francisco and Outfest in Los Angeles! Check out our current festival lineup below for a complete list of dates and ticket info.

Our team can’t wait to bring ISOAW to a theater near you, but we need your support now more than ever. There are only a few days left of our Kickstarter campaign and we need a final boost to reach our fundraising goal before this Thursday, June 7th! Many thanks to the amazing, generous backers who have gotten us this far!

If you can, please help us share this missing piece of queer art history with the world and make a contribution here More…

Gay New York

Dirty Looks: On Location Venue Portrait #1 – Everard Baths by

Every night this July, Dirty Looks: On Location will install a film and video work in queer social settings (like gay bars or community centers) or former sites of queer sociality (shuttered baths, bars, or sex clubs). An extension of the essential queer experimental screening series curated by Bradford Nordeen, On Location looks to bring the general public in contact with historically important queer artwork, and the history of queer New York.


Art & Autobiography

Sundance Stories: Rhys Ernst on The Secret of “The Thing” by

Rhys Thing sign

Though feature films often dominate the conversation at the Sundance Film Festival, the smart filmgoer pays just as close attention to the shorts, many of which are turned into features after attracting attention on the festival circuit. Director Rhys Ernst’s short film The Thing was one of the most exciting shorts I saw at the festival this past weekend. Afterwards, I spoke with Ernst about how the film came to be, a pivotal road trip he took, and his thoughts on trans representation in cinema.

Describe what your short is about?
The Thing is about a couple –a woman and a transgendered man– who are traveling on a road trip with their cat towards a mysterious roadside attraction called “The Thing.” The closer and closer they’re getting toward their destination the further and further they’re getting from each other.

Where did the idea for the short come from?
Since I’m trans I certainly had a stake in putting that character out there. Obviously there’s a lack of trans men characters in film, but I didn’t want to make an identity film, I wanted to have the issue folded into a much larger narrative so it could appeal to all different kinds of audience members. I have gone on a lot of calamitous road trips and when I moved to LA from New York I brought my cat with me in the car.

Isn’t that sort of dangerous for a cat to travel that way?
The cat was okay. He was a little freaked out, but he was okay. My friend and I would sneak him into hotel rooms. It was so comic and strange it was one kernel for the film. The rest of it’s not particularly autobiographical – though I did grow up going on lots of road trips with my family. It’s so American – these tourist roadside attraction places. They’re these nice emblems of something that’s totally mysterious. More…

The Movie

Director’s Commentary: Ira Sachs on Queer Film by

To my admittedly biased mind, the overlooked movie news story of last year was the return of queer films to some semblance of public (read: crossover) consciousness. Andrew Haigh’s Weekend led the charge, but was equally well-matched by Dee Rees’ Pariah (in theaters now!), Rashaad Ernesto Green’s Gun Hill Road, Maryam Keshavarz’s Circumstance, and Céline Sciamma’s Tomboy. All of these films made a critical and popular splash upon their arrival in theaters this year to the thrill of queer film enthusiasts and filmmakers. Though one might be quick to connect these films’ success to the frequent news stories about gay prejudice, bullying, and human rights, one can’t overlook the fact that each of these films are also well made, stylistically consistent, and created by filmmakers unafraid to tell honest stories that reflect the real lives LGBT people live every day. With Keep the Lights On premiering in just over 2 weeks at Sundance, we’re hoping that this trend continues. Above, KTLO director Ira Sachs discusses the state of queer film today and the link between capitalism and telling queer stories. We’d love to hear your take on the state of queer film today in the comments below!

Gay New York

The Beginnings of MIX by

To mark the occasion of the opening night of the 24th New York Queer Experimental Film Festival, the festival’s co-founder Jim Hubbard has generously allowed us to reprint the following essay detailing the origins of the festival, first published in French to mark the 15th anniversary of Scratch Cinema in Paris in 1999. Much has changed within the festival since this article was first written, but the history of its birth remains the same.

Sarah Schulman and I were smoking pot one cold night in February 1987. As Sarah passed me the joint, she said, “We should do a lesbian and gay experimental film festival.” I said, “I’ve always wanted to do one. When should we do it?” “September.” “Do you think we could do it for two weeks?” “No, one week is more than enough work.” And so, the New York Lesbian and Gay Experimental Film Festival was conceived.

When we approached Howard Guttenplan, director of Millennium, to rent the space for the festival, he asked us if we thought there was an audience for this work. I replied that I had no idea, but we were going to find out. More…

Gay New York

The Return of Vito Russo by


It’s been 16 years since the documentary version of The Celluloid Closet, activist Vito Russo’s landmark book about gay representation in film, was released in theaters. Vito spent nearly his whole life watching films, screening them for others and helping to explain how film perpetuated stereotypes about gay and lesbian people in film. Tonight, Vito returns to theaters as the star of the film, rather than a spectator. Jeffrey Schwartz’s eagerly-anticipated documentary Vito, which explores Vito’s life as a cinephile activist as well as an important AIDS activist will screen at 6PM and 9:15PM at the Walter Reade Theater as part of the New York Film Festival. The screening is sold out, but there are rush tickets available for both screenings. The film features interviews with Lily Tomlin, Armisteaud Maupin, and many of Vito’s closest friends and colleagues. Don’t miss it.


Art & Autobiography

Weekend Reading: Director Andrew Haigh on Writing for An Imaginary Audience by


By now you’ve probably heard so much about director Andrew Haigh’s wonderful new gay romantic drama Weekend that you may wonder if the film is really as good as the hype. Happily, as those of us lucky enough to see it before it was released in theaters today know, it is. Haigh is also as charming and easy to talk to as his film is to watch. After a grueling week of interviews and press, I met up with Haigh to talk about how his own sex diary inspired his new film, and his somewhat ambivalent feelings about his success on the eve of his film’s release. Note: There are a few plot points in the conversation that follows that you may not want spoiled. So see the film tonight and then come back and read the interview – yes, you guessed it – this weekend.

Adam: Chris’ character in the film is a character who is an artist and who’s making this kind of diary-like tape recordings of his experiences, cataloguing his experiences with his lovers and I’m wondering if you have any of your own sort of similar journaling thing like he does?
Andrew: I did what Russell did. I had a list that I kept password protected on my computer. I definitely used to come back straight after it happened and write a piece, like Russell does, about that person. It’s crazy when I look back at them now and read the kind of things that I said. They’re always quite sexual and I would just describe who the person was, and what happened. It was weird. It was like I would write it for someone else, even though I had no intention of ever showing that to someone. I came out quite late so it was probably a way for me just to deal with suddenly being out and sleeping with people. I suppose that list inspired elements of the film because I did look back at it before I started writing the script. Although the people on that list aren’t in the film.

Your autobiographical filmmaking -
Doesn’t go that far! More…

Avery Willard

Adrian and the Dance of the Seven Veils: The Story of An Unknown Camp Classic by

Adrian (Henry Arango)

The story of Salome, the femme fatale who danced for the head of John the Baptist, has long been a source of fascination to scholars and artists. When Henry Arango saw a production of Salome at the Metropolitan Opera House in 1965, his first thought was, “Hell, I could be Salome.” In those days, Arango was one of the bright stars of the legendary East Village underground drag nightclub the Club 82 after emigrating from Castro’s Cuba in 1956. Arango performed under the stage name “Adrian” and was always seeking inspiration for production numbers to entertain the highbrow crowds who would descend into the 4th Street lair (now the location of the Bijou Sex Theater) to watch the glamorous, show-stopping female impersonators. When the cast was booked into a show in Florida, Arango went to work on the Salome number and mentioned it to his friend, filmmaker Avery Willard. Willard thought the duo should make it into a film. Thus begat the one and only filmed collaboration between Arango and Willard, Salome and the Dance of the Seven Veils, a 10-minute color film that remained in Arango’s possession, unwatched until many, many years later when drag scholar Joe Jeffreys presented it for an admiring audience at one of his Drag Show Video Verite screenings. Director Ira Sachs and documentarian Cary Kehayan, who are working on In Search of Avery Willard, a documentary about the forgotten gay experimental filmmaker, headed to Arango’s home in Astoria to talk about the film, Arango’s friendship with Willard, and what it was like being a gay man in New York in the ’50s and ’60s.

Ira Sachs & Cary Kehayan: When were you born?
Adrian: I wasn’t born. I was created, because I’m a goddess.

But you left Cuba in ’56, right? How did you get from Cuba to Miami?
I had a friend of mine who actually was gay and who worked at the American Embassy. And I said, “I have to get out of here.” I was working at a nightclub called Montmartre. It was a beautiful penthouse club with a bar and an elevator that opened up into this huge space. But Castro, I think, uh—There were a couple of guys with machine guns and they wanted to kill a couple of people there, and they did, they killed a couple extra people who were there. So they closed the place.

Were you there every night?
There had never been a female impersonator. But they created a whole themed show about Madame du Barry. They made me a huge contraption with a powdered wig and all that. And they had a line of eight boys who actually gave me a hard time because they didn’t want to back-up a drag queen. Though there were no drag queens. They were called “impersonators.” But we did it. The show lasted a week because they killed these guys and then my friend said, “I think it’s time for you to leave.” Already I had an audition at the Club 82. Two friends of mine who were working there got me an audition. I arrived. Got the job. Met Avery Willard in the club—he was one of the customers—and we were friends for many years. More…