by Loren King
Filmmaker John Greyson, who directed the acclaimed gay-themed drama Lilies (1996) and several episodes of Queen as Folk in 2001 and 2002, remains imprisoned without cause in Cairo, Egypt along with Dr. Tarek Loubani. Greyson and Loubani through their Egyptian lawyers said that they will be refusing food beginning September 16 to protest the arbitrary nature of their detention by Egyptian authorities.
During the recent Toronto International Film Festival, more than 300 high-profile stars including filmmakers Ben Affleck, Sarah Polley, Atom Egoyan, Alex Gibney, actors Charlize Theron, Alec Baldwin and Danny Glover, and author Michael Ondaatje called for the release of Greyson and Dr. Loubani. Both men were arrested Aug. 16 after entering a police station to ask for directions. At the time of their arrest, Toronto-native Greyson, a filmmaker and professor at York University, and Loubani, a doctor from London, Ontario, were heading to the Gaza Strip. Loubani teaches emergency room medicine at Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza. Greyson was planning to make a documentary. They have been held behind bars ever since and have not be charged with any crime. Egyptian authorities have given no reason for the extension or ongoing detention.
At a press conference during the TIFF, members of the filmmaking community joined Cecilia Greyson, sister of John Greyson, in demanding the immediate release of Greyson and Dr. Loubani. A website has been set up (tarekandjohn.com) with information and a petition calling for their release that has so far been signed by more than 100,000 people.
“We can only imagine the anguish that John and Tarek feel after realizing that their detention could be extended for so long in what can only be described as an arbitrary process that lacks any credibility,” said Cecilia Greyson. “We know that they did not take the decision to begin a hunger strike lightly, and we want them to know we will do everything we can to support them and get them home soon.”
by Loren King
TORONTO — I knew I could only be at the Toronto International Film Festival when one minute I was sitting next to Matthew McConaughey as he talked about losing weight to play a man with AIDS in Dallas Buyers Club and the next I was talking with Boston filmmaker Mark Phinney about his low-budget indie film Fat.
The mix of red carpet glitz and unknown names, of high profile films and obscure indies, is what makes the TIFF, which runs to September 15, such a heady event for filmmakers and viewers alike. Often it’s the little film that dazzles — yes, it was cool to be at a press conference just two feet away from Jake Gyllenhaal or to spot Juliette Lewis in a hotel lobby. But for cinephiles the real kick is the under the radar film that turns out to be a real gem.
Boston writer/director Mark Phinney and the cast and crew of Fat (which includes lots of Boston talent) made the trip to Toronto by van and were clearly basking in the glow of a break-out films that’s garnering lots of buzz. Shot entirely in Boston, Fat is a funny and poignant film about a man’s battle with food addiction and the toll it takes on his emotional and physical health. It won’t be in theaters until 2014 but keep your eyes open for a local screening before that.FULL ENTRY
Divine (photo: Lynn Davis)
15th Annual Provincetown International Film Festival — June 19-23 — keeps getting bigger and better
By Loren King
A documentary about Divine, director John Waters’ muse and star, is just one of many LGBT-themed films that will grace the 15th annual Provincetown International Film Festival (PIFF), running June 19-23. From its first year, when Waters himself was honored as the festival’s “Filmmaker on the Edge,” PIFF has championed LGBT films and filmmakers. For this milestone year the festival will do it again — but even bigger.
As the PIFF has grown in reputation and popularity, its organizers have been savvy about attracting not just A-list talent more than happy to spend a few days in P-town but the funding to put on a destination event. This year, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded grants to PIFF for its 15th annual fest. It will be used to bring back several “Filmmaker on the Edge” awardees from the past 15 years.
Besides Waters, directors Mary Harron and Gregg Araki and producer Christine Vachon are among past guests slated to return. PIFF will screen seminal films from each of these filmmakers, who all have strong LGBT ties. These include Waters’ legendary Pink Flamingos; Vachon’s Kids; Harron’s I Shot Andy Warhol; and Araki’s Mysterious Skin, the 2004 drama starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and based on gay writer Scott Heim’s novel. Other past honorees Jim Jarmusch, Todd Haynes and Quentin Tarantino have been asked to invite a rising director they admire to attend. PIFF artistic director Connie White says this underscores and continues the festival’s mission to recognize independent filmmakers “on the edge.”FULL ENTRY
Behind the Candelabra, Steven Soderbergh’s upcoming movie about Liberace and Scott Thorson, is getting great pre-release buzz. The movie stars Michael Douglas as Liberace and Matt Damon as his lover, Thorson.
In a recent interview Soderbergh discussed his memories of Liberace (comparing him in one instance to Lebron James), the movie, and the performances of both Douglas and Damon.
Soderbergh worked with Douglas on the movie Traffic and it was then that he first approached the actor with the idea of playing Liberace. “Well, that’s the first time I discussed the idea with him, and he did do a little impression, which I thought was excellent”.
After coming across Thorson’s book on his life with Liberace, Soderbergh know he had his storyline for the movie. After initially trying to tackle the storyline with Liberace as the centerpiece he changed his thinking and used Thorson as the “trojan horse” to get into Liberace’s life. “It gave me a definitive time period, and it gave me a structure because of the arc of the relationship,” said Soderbergh.
As for Damon, Soderbergh recalled “(Matt) was in Spain doing his cameo in Che, and I gave him the book. I can only imagine what was going through his mind five years later before we started shooting. But Matt doesn’t have anything to protect. That’s not how he makes his decisions. He makes his decisions based on whether he’s engaged by the piece or not. If it turns out to be something that’s really gonna push him as a performer, even better. And Michael, he was just fearless. They both are. The movie just doesn’t work if they don’t both literally join hands and jump off the cliff. It’s intimate stuff, even if it was a guy and a girl. But for a lot of people it’ll be hard to see Jason Bourne on top of Gordon Gekko.”
For anyone who is old enough to truly remember Liberace, count Soderbergh in that group, the memories are of a truly unique performer. That, above all, is what drew the director to the movie. “I’m old enough to have seen him on TV at my parents’ place, and found him very entertaining. I was kind of intrigued by the incredible technical skill being masked by this flamboyant persona. Underneath this performer who was all about entertaining his audience and giving them a good time was actually a concert-level skilled keyboardist. It’s kind of like if LeBron James decided to play for the Harlem Globetrotters. There really wasn’t anybody like him. And there are a lot of people now that owe him a real debt because of how he presented himself. This guy invented bling,” said Soderbergh
G.B.F. (Gay Best Friend) (photo: courtesy Boston LGBT Film Festival)
NOTE: STORY UPDATED TO INCLUDE THE LATEST SCHEDULING AND IS ADAPTED FROM THE MARCH/APRIL 2013 ISSUE OF BOSTON SPIRIT MAGAZINE.
The 29th Annual Boston LGBT Film Festival holds its annual launch party this coming Sunday, April 28, at Post 360 (406 Stuart Street, Boston). The event is free and open to the public. Those interested can RSVP through the festival web site at www.bostonlgbtfilmfest.net.
By Loren King
That Boston marches to its own drummer is hardly news in the political or LGBT arenas. That this is also true in rarified atmosphere of film festivals, particularly in the niche world of LGBT film festivals, is one more reason to wear the badge of Bostonian with pride.
The Boston LGBT Film Festival, which runs May 2 through 12, has, at 29 years, earned the distinction as one of the oldest LGBT film fests in the nation. Through many changes in both the film and the LGBT scene, Boston has managed to annually deliver a celebration of international queer cinema that’s as diverse as the city itself.
“We’ve learned what works here. Our audience doesn’t mind subtitles; one of the biggest hits of recent years was the Tom Twyker film 3. Gay Hollywood movies don’t work for us. We program rom-coms for a date night film, but what sells out in Phoenix doesn’t do well in Boston. Women’s films do well here, sometimes better than men’s,” says James Nadeau, the festival’s executive director.
Among the more than 100 fiction features, documentaries and shorts that will screen at six local venues — the Museum of Fine Arts, the Institute of Contemporary Art, the Brattle Theatre, the Coolidge Corner Theatre, Theater 1 at the Revere Hotel and the Paramount Center — are several films that deal with LGBT history and others that offer transgender characters. Notable among these is Laurence Anyways (5/5, 7 p.m., MFA), from Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan who directed Heartbeats (2010) and I Killed My Mother (2009).FULL ENTRY