DIFF Films Demonstrate Diversity in LGBT Cinema
Three documentaries and one narrative feature in the 2015 DIFF line-up explore LGBT themes, each in strikingly disparate contexts, once again confirming that LGBT isn’t a neat taxonomy unto itself. Instead, conversations about sexual orientation and sexual identity mix with a multitude of other conversations – individual, social, political – that we have in the 21st century, thus bringing LGBT out of its niche and throwing it into the messy public arena. That is, by depicting how LGBT intersects with the many other areas of public discourse, these documentaries signal the next chapter in LGBT storytelling.
Billed as “part love story, part international thriller,” the feature documentary THE AMINA PROFILE, directed by Sophie Deraspe, dives deep into so many fraught subject areas that you’ll marvel at how it swims along without a hiccup. Amina Arraf is a Syrian-American revolutionary who starts a blog called “A Gay Girl in Damascus.” These are troubling times in Syria as an uprising against the government is being met with a brutal crackdown. And yet, Amina’s blog hits a nerve, finding a vast readership of like-minded young Syrians.
That is until Amina is suddenly abducted. It’s here where this deft, fast-moving documentary steps in to play detective and untangle a complex case implicating geopolitics, modern communications technologies, and love. The film travels across continents: to San Francisco and Washington, D.C., to Istanbul, Tel Aviv, and Beirut in search of answers: Who abducted Amina? Where is she now? And, perhaps most intriguingly, who is Amina Arraf?
David Thorpe’s documentary, DO I SOUND GAY? is a hilarious, heart-warming story of self-discovery. After breaking up with his boyfriend, Thorpe wants to understand why he feels a certain ambivalence toward his stereotypically gay voice. This question inspires a journey that leads Thorpe to personal encounters with voice coaches, linguists, family members, friends and even some celebrities, including Margaret Cho, Tim Gunn, Don Lemon, Dan Savage, David Sedaris, and George Takei.
DO I SOUND GAY? takes a candid approach to examining of “gay voice,” in our culture, addressing important questions in a way that is rarely seen in current media. Questions other have failed to ask either out of apathy or fear: Is there really such a thing as the “gay voice,” and if so, where did it come from? How come some people sound gay but others don’t? Perhaps most important, is the film’s examination of the history of “gay voice” in terms of where it’s negative connotations may stem from, thereby providing a better understanding of the phenomenon in hopes of creating a more accepting perception of it in today’s society. Still, the most endearing quality of DO I SOUND GAY? is how it connects a set of unique – namely, gay-voice related – anxieties and insecurities to those that we all feel, making this journey informative, but also enlightening to a wide audience.
In 1991, gay Houstonian Paul Broussard was beaten to death by a group of boys. Among them was 17-year-old Jon Buice. THE GUY WITH THE KNIFE, directed by Alison Armstrong, portrays the convicted Buice’s bid for redemption. By all accounts, he has been a model prisoner, helping inmates learn to read and acquire college degrees. He further apologized to the gay community and has even earned the support and advocacy of the gay activist responsible for securing his conviction in the first place. Yet despite these efforts, Buice’s parole has been repeatedly denied.
Armstrong’s documentary seeks to uncover a flawed justice system – namely, “the politicization of the parole process and the secretive nature in which unsubstantiated accusations can be made.”
Laila is an aspiring writer and student at Delphi University who lives with cerebral palsy. She doesn’t let her disease divine her though. In fact, nothing seems to hold Laila back in life, although that doesn’t stop her mother from trying. Like most twenty-somethings, Laila longs for freedom and adventure in her life – so when she wins academic placement at New York University, Laila doesn’t hesitate to leave behind the life she knew in India – along with her mother – and head to the Big Apple.
In New York, Laila meets and falls for Khanum, a young activist and fellow NYU student who challenges her beliefs and inspires her to experience life in a whole new way. MARGARITA WITH A STAR is an inspiring coming of age story about life, love and self-discovery.
DALLAS STAR AWARDS
Lone Star State legend and influential writer, actor and producer Carson first gained recognition as creator of the mockumentary, DAVID HOLZMAN’s DIARY (1968), and co-wrote PARIS, TEXAS (1984).
Danner is well regarded for her roles in films such as MEET THE PARENTS and THE GREAT SANTINI. The Emmy-winning and Golden Globe-nominated actress is alos know for her work on television shows such as Will & Grace and Huff.
A director for more than 40 years, Landis' films include NATIONAL LAMPOON’S ANIMAL HOUSE (1980), THE BLUES BROTHERS (1978) and AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON (1981).
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Presented by REEL FX
Phil Lord and Chris Miller are the prolific writing and directing duo behind some of today’s most successful comedy films including, THE LEGO MOVIE, 21 & 22 JUMP STREET and CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS.
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