Generations of Queers
by Nicole Murphy
As a graduate student at UT Austin, and I imagine this is true of grad students everywhere, anytime I have an academic excuse to leave my house or the dark corner of a coffee shop I’ve been stuck writing in for days, I get pretty excited. So when my graduate class was given the midterm assignment to attend this year’s Polari Film Festival and have a few useful thoughts afterward. I went home and looked up the Polari schedule of 89 films and shorts over the course of five days and naturally decided to attend at least 50 of them along with all the panels and parties. Clearly, I set completely reasonable and achievable goals for myself. The week of the festival, I actually managed to attend six films, one series of shorts, two shorts shown before films, a few of the discussion panels, the opening reception, and one of the parties. My experiences over the five days of the film festival were thought provoking in a myriad of ways but I’ve decided to write about my (hopefully) useful and interesting thoughts on the concept of generation that was weaved through my attendance of the festival.
As a feminist, scholar and poor kid whose academic and community work is centered on socioeconomically disadvantaged youth, issues of generational dialogue are central to just about everything. In the LGBTQIA community there tends to be pretty structured age-segregation. I would attribute this separation to a variety of factors including early understandings of gay and lesbian subcultures as purely about sexual preference instead of gender and sexual identity, society’s supreme discomfort around the sexuality of youth, societal fear mongering and myth building around pedophilia and the gay community and, probably most prevalent to the Polari fest, the formal spaces where the LGBTQIA community connects and is developed. By which, I mean queer youth cannot go into bars and are often not allowed to attend or formally participate in anything sexual explicit and queer adults often cannot participate in youth coming-out groups. Given the possible repercussions of being out and in the education field, gay-straight alliances and queer groups in K-12 formal education spaces are also not accessible to the LGBTQIA community at large. All of this is not to say that spaces where various generations of LGBTQIA peoples come together and socialize don’t exist, only that I was struck by the diversity and inclusion of generation built into the Polari fest experience. In my admittedly incomplete and fragmented experience of the festival there was documentation of the history of the LGBTQ movement in the films LESBIANA: A PARALLEL REVOLUTION, REACHING FOR THE MOON and ALICE WALKER: BEAUTY IN TRUTH. There were contemporary representations of queerness and debates happening in the queer community in the films FIVE DANCES, THE NEW BLACK, SLASH and WHITEWASH. The films BEFORE YOU KNOW IT and TWO GIRLS AGAINST THE RAIN both bridged the historical and contemporary gap by depicting the current lives of queer folks steeped in history and there were even films that contemplated the future and possibilities of queerness in the SASHAY FAR FAR AWAY series of shorts. Audre Lorde the Black feminist, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet wrote about generation in SISTER OUTSIDER saying “As we move toward creating a society within which we can each flourish, ageism is another distortion of relationship which interferes without vision. By ignoring the past, we are encouraged to repeat its mistakes. The ‘generation gap’ is an important social tool for any repressive society. If the younger members of a community view the older members as contemptible or suspect of excess, they will never be able to join hands and examine the living memories of the community, nor ask the all-important question, ‘Why?’ This gives rise to a historical amnesia that keeps us working to invent the wheel every time we have to go to the store for bread.” The creators of the Polari Film Festival did a wonderful job of including LGBTQ history, spotlighting LQBTQIA youth and organizing space to facilitate cross generational dialogue.
At the screening of The New Black this intergenerational conversation happened through both formal festival structure and organically in the post film discussion panel. The festival curators opened the viewing of THE NEW BLACK, the centerpiece of the fest, with a student created short entitled WHITEWASH. The short is described in the Polari Festival program as, “Self-love and racial politics collide in this inspiring tale authored by the talented crew of the Polari Queer Youth Media Project,” and was shown with three members of the project present. WHITEWASH was one of the highlights of the festival for me, it was the ten minute story of a “beautiful, Black, butch girl” struggling with white supremacist and hetero notions of beauty while trying to navigate the complicated terrain of queer teen romance. The short was followed by THE NEW BLACK describe as, “an explosive new documentary that uncovers the complicated and often combative histories of the African-American and LGBT civil rights movements, this thought-provoking film offers a fresh and galvanizing perspective on the hot-button issue of gay marriage.” Paired together by the curators of the festival, I see these two films as creating a dialogue about what it means to be black and queer in the United States. As a 25 year-old white cisgender woman this dialogue is not about me or for me but being part of the audience and witnessing the conversation between the films certainly helps to illuminate some of the real differences that stem from my race and my age.
After both WHITEWASH and THE NEW BLACK there was a panel discussion that included the director Yoruba Richen and a subject of the film Karess Taylor-Hughes. Throughout Polari there were formally built in Q & A sessions and a few discussion panels with directors and subjects which are an awesome perk of the festival experience. Although, on this particular panel I was disappointed that none of the Polari Queer Youth Media Project participants were included. Even without the explicit inclusion of the high school students or any questions directly related to generation Karess Taylor-Hughes brought it up in one of her responses to a question about activism. I didn’t bring a pen to the screenings because I can’t write in the dark but I will do my best to relay her sentiment and if anyone remembers, recorded or wrote down her actually words please correct me. She said that the lack of recognition of the activist work of young African Americans around gay marriage by their elders comes down to generational amnesia. When young black kids go home and tell their grandparents about canvasing for gay marriage their grandparents discount it because they reflect back to marching and being hosed down during the Civil Rights Movement. In turn, they use to recount to their grandparents protests during the Civil Rights Movement only to be told stories about Jim Crow or chattel slavery. Taylor-Hughes’ comments about activism were said in a theatre full of queer people and queer people of color from the Austin community and organically created an intergenerational dialogue in the formal discussion panel space.
Like the moments I described above, the Polari Festival had a variety of inclusive intergenerational formal and informal spaces but I want to end with my reflections about the intersections of the Polari Festival with class and race because continued and diligent reflexivity are the only way to create spaces and lives that combat oppression.
I think Polari did a good job of being inclusive of class differences. All of the venues were accessible by city bus, the price of full access badges were steep but tickets could be purchased for individual shows, there were abundant volunteer opportunities and volunteers got to watch the screenings. My suggestion to increase generational/class inclusivity for future Polari fests (not that anyone has asked me for my suggestions) would be to offer a free ticket writing/blogging/video competition to gay/straight alliances, queer clubs and queer students in local Austin high schools.
The creators of the Polari Festival also clearly tried to incorporate formal conversations about identity intersections like race and nation and the movie choices throughout the festival reflect their awareness. However, the racial divides in Austin’s queer community were visible. The majority of the films were attended by a largely white audience, while the films I saw with descriptions about minority characters were attended by largely black audiences. This split wasn’t monolithic but was obvious. The racial segregation present in the city of Austin showed up at the Polari Festival. The festival staff and the queer community of color were both present and engaged in conversations about intersections and the future of the queer community but the white queer folks didn’t show up to listen. I will end this with the words of Audre Lorde because anything I have thought she has probably written better, “The sharing of joy, whether physical, emotional, psychic, or intellectual, forms a bridge between the sharers which can be the basis for understanding much of what is not shared between them, and lessens the threat of their difference.”
 Audre Lorde. “Age, Race, Class, and Sex: Women Redefining Difference”.Sister Outsider Crossing Berkley Press. 1984 (According to the notes, this paper was first published at the Copeland Colloquium, at Amherst College in April 1980)
 Lorde, Audre. Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power. Tucson, AZ: Kore, 2000. Print.
Queer Space, Queer Object
by Austin Rodenbiker
This was my first year encountering the Polari Film Festival. The festival itself, however just finished its 26th year here in Austin. Sometimes when you come into a space, or enter a community, or come across some type of object, you interact with it in a kind of pedestrian way.You vaguely notice it, and record it somewhere on the back burner of your mind. Oh, that’s an interesting building, or the people here seem nice. Other times, you have no choice but to engage with the histories, meanings, and stories that present themselves to you. My experience with Polari was of the second type. It seemed that from standing in line, to watching the films, from Q&A sessions, to after parties, I was constantly reminded of the significance of a queer film festival in this time and place.
Perhaps the thing that struck me hardest was the difficulty I had conceptualizing what the festival was. Should we call it a “moment” or an “event” or a “community” or what? I’m not sure I have a definite answer. My best guess is that the Polari fest operates on two major registers: as a queer space and as a queer object. Here, I’m using “queer” not as an umbrella term for LGBTQIA, but rather as a different conceptualization of sexuality that is contra to heteronorms — often through destabilizing and critiquing identity politics. I want to think here about these different modes by focusing on my experiences of the opening night and closing night of the festival featuring the films FIVE DANCES and TEST, respectively.
Before I even attended the festival, I was cognizant of some of the history. I had heard of the festival but under a different name. The change from AGLIFF (Austin Gay and Lesbian International Film Festival) to Polari — put into place just last year — interpellates a language or slang dialect of the same name used from at least the 19th century by the British gay subculture as well as sex workers, navy merchants, and circus showmen. The decision to rebrand AGLIFF as Polari points toward a temporal depth located in queer objects. It seems to me an impulse to look backwards by looking inside, to locate historicity through stationary depth. And that’s the thing about the Polari Festival — it has a sense of fixedness that belies the temporality it moves through. Its connection to Austin, Texas was (for 25 years) imprinted in its name — to iterate the festival was to place it squarely in a municipal space. While the venues change or carry over from one year to the next, the spatial reasoning remains. The object of the queer film festival achieves a valence of permanence by detaching and reattaching itself from physical buildings and venues. The change from AGLIFF to Polari seems to signify a desire to reify a sense of history that moves in, out of, and around secrecy, a sense of history that is embedded with stories, communication, and imaginations of futurity.
This introduction to Polari as a thing — a thing that could be named, renamed, branded, remembered, forgotten, or excavated — was what initially made me think of the festival as an object. But I think the usefulness of positing the festival as an object goes beyond the naming history. Polari also operates in the mode of “object” in relation to the way individual and group subjectivities encounter, interact with, hold on to, and let go of the festival as a thing. The festival becomes a cultural lodestone that can be handled and mishandled, picked up and put down, a thing that people orient themselves around. The memorabilia, the program, the lanyards with their badges, the tshirts, etc. become a material stand-in for an object that must remain intangible in certain ways.
(But it’s complicated. Picking up my festival badge from the headquarters on Cesar Chavez, I was overwhelmed with the amount of other objects — lanyards, schedules, bags, programs, passes, tshirts — that came to stand for the larger object of the festival itself. The synecdochic nature of these artifacts is hard to parse and usually ends up confusing me — are these objects part of the festival? Do they belong to the festival? Are they manifestations of the festival? In any way, they remain important as the things that festival goers literally touch, hold, lose, and keep.)
Maybe here is a good place to argue semantics. I speak about the festival as both an object and a space but in reality, the Polari Film Festival is neither. It’s a queer film festival. Instead what I mean to convey is that in various instances, the festival acts like one or the other. It’s like the festival flickers between the two and in some moments doesn’t fully occupy either mode. With that, I’ll transition to thinking about Polari as a queer space.
The theme for the festival this year, “Don’t Just Sit There: Indulge. Engage. Create.” is apt for imagining the festival as a type of queer space. Not only does the theme call our attention to one of the main actions of any film festival (“sitting there,” watching the films) but also to the space of it all (Where are you sitting? Who are you sitting with? How are you going to indulge/engage/create?). But what is a queer space? In Lauren Berlant and Michael Warner’s article “Sex in Public” they draw on the example of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s zoning law in the late 90s:
The law aims to restrict any counterpublic sexual culture by regulating its economic conditions; its effects will reach far beyond the adult businesses it explicitly controls. The gay bars on Christopher Street draw customers from people who come there because of its sex trade. The street is cruisier because of the sex shops. The boutiques that sell freedom rings and “Don’t Panic” T-shirts do more business for the same reasons. Not all of the thousands who migrate or make pilgrimages to Christopher Street use the porn shops, but all benefit from the fact that some do. After a certain point, a quantitative change is a qualitative change. A critical mass develops. The street becomes queer. It develops a dense, publicly accessible sexual culture. (562)
I decided that this was important to quote at length because it sets a framework for how we can imagine queerness cathecting into a physically locatable space. After all, it is through queer collectivity that queer spaces can come into being. We might easily think of the Polari Film Festival as a space that develops “a critical mass” from the previous 25 years.
Both FIVE DANCES and TEST are films that focus their narrative around dance and choreography. It seems fitting that the opening and closing films of the festival deal explicitly with movements of (gay) bodies in and through space. FIVE DANCES follows 18 year-old Chip as he comes to New York on a dance scholarship and joins a small dance company while navigating the city and his own sexuality in relation to the other dancers in the company. TEST focuses on Frankie in a San Francisco dance company in 1985. Working as something of an understudy, Frankie moves through sex, relationships, and anxiety surrounding the impending HIV/AIDS crisis.
As I watched these two films, I was surprised at the amount of time dedicated solely to movement and dance in lieu of traditional narrative. In a way, it made a certain kind of sense to me, that it can be politically important to assert gay bodies moving through space. Whether it’s the tipsy pirouettes of Chip and Theo, or the bold performance of Frankie on stage, there is political resonance in how these spaces act on and react to gay bodies. There is a certain sense of the temporary in dance. The way bodies connect through a range of motion puts them in dialogue with each other and with the space that they occupy. I think that in this sense, ephemerality is particularly useful when thinking about queer spaces as they come together in constellations and then fall apart. Part of the essence of a queer film festival (or really festivals in general) is that they are made to be built up and then torn down, only to be built up again the next year.
But space becomes complicated: the thing about festivals is that they are, by definition, temporary. A festival that never stops is not a festival, it is something else entirely. This is not to deny the impulse to make a festival or party or night or moment last longer, but rather to point to the ephemeral nature of Polari’s place while keeping intact the permanence of Polari’s object. The temporal depth of the space of Polari Festival pulls into conversation the genesis of the festival as well as its continuance. It invokes histories of oppression as well as formations of publics, communities, relationships, and encounters.
Sitting in a movie theater watching a queer film with an audience full of queers at a queer film festival is . . . well, queer. It pushes together disparate times, charges them with affect and emotion and filters them through the glowing screen. It feels cruisy, but it also feels familial. It feels wildly public, but also sequestered and intimate. It feels like someone else’s space, someone older, someone who has gone to the fest for years now, but it also feels like mine. It feels like someone else’s object, but it also feels like my object. Perhaps most importantly, it feels like something that is more than fun, more than mine, it feels like something necessary.
S/LASHing Convention: Polari’s Reassessment of Genre and Fandom
by Ben Kruger-Robbins
During my three evenings attending screenings and events at the Polari film festival, I took regular notice of genre discourse within and between works presented. While my immediate attention pivoted to Thursday night’s lineup of science fiction shorts, a genre oft neglected for its queer centrality (as I will touch upon later), I appreciated the blurring of the fantasy/realism binary within two features more generally categorized as melodramas: REACHING FOR THE MOON and PIT STOP. Considering the relevance of the term “Polari” as a codified queer language, I remain invested in how genre classifications, too often observed within a restrictive heteronormative framework, acquire alternate connotations and complicated interplay within the festival space. Here I contend that Polari’s muddying of genre distinctions and privileging of audience participation through the organizing idiom “Don’t Just Sit There” speaks to the queerness of fan subjectivity. I begin by focusing on of the short films featured during the festival’s sci-fi night, S/LASH, as a short encapsulation of the festival’s queering of genre, before discussing political implications of genre intersection through the seemingly classifiable films REACHING FOR THE MOON and PIT STOP. Finally, I conclude by assessing the language and scheduling of the Polari fest as crucial to reconfiguring relationships between participants and spectators.
Thursday’s evening of science fiction shorts concluded appropriately with Clay Liford’s S/LASH (2012), a narrative comedy that observes a queer boy’s immersion in erotic fan fiction. Previous films screened within the 9:30-11 pm timeslot, while placed under the categorical banner of sci-fi/fantasy, incorporated tropes of melodrama, comedy, and horror; all reconfigured constructs of linear time and many adopted an experimental framework that disrupted chronological progression. As Gary Needham observes in “Scheduling Normativity: Television, the Family, and Queer Temporality,” “queer time is a desire reconfigured to embrace temporal displacements, especially with regard to the past and future” (152). Concurrent with Needham’s understanding, Rose Troche’s ELLIOT KING IS THIRD ruminates about gender coding in an alternate future, while Dominic Haxton’s WE ARE ANIMALS reimagines the reality of AIDS in 1985, pushing the politics of paranoia to a terrifying extreme. P.J. Raval’s BIG SHOT (2013), meanwhile, functions outside of recognizable past and future to construct an anti-normative fantasy/nightmare involving Austin-based performer Christeene and rabbits as a means to “refuse normative time” and instead “embrace extremes of temporal experience: asynchrony, discontinuity, belatedness, arrest” (Needham, 152). All of these films devise science fiction as a distinctively queer genre that operates through “intensely emotive means” (ibid 153) as a way of privileging audience subjectivity and reconfiguring “normative” time.
S/LASH, in my estimation, provides a fascinating commentary on the entire evening of films screened through its meta-theatrical incorporation of queer sci-fi fans into its narrative arc. In his discussion of Kirk/Spock (K/S and, hereafter, S/LASH) fiction in “STAR TREK Rerun, Reread, Rewritten: Fan Writing as Textual Poaching,” Henry Jenkins discusses this form of homoerotic reception as a means to reclaim texts situated in heteronormative industrial contexts. He writes, “in constructing the feminine counter-text that lurks in the margins of the primary text, these readers necessarily redefine the text in the process of rereading and rewriting it” (488). S/LASH’s protagonist Sam, who writes queer Harry Potter fan fiction, emerges as the subjective force of his own science fiction narrative when his “redefined text” comes to vivid life within the diegesis. Although Sam’s encountering a queer world over which fans preside resonates as a joke, the humor speaks to Ien Ang’s realization in DESPERATELY SEEKING AUDIENCE that, “ethnographic understandings of the social worlds of actual audiences…is likely to highlight the limitations of any institutional arrangement…and can thus serve as a vital intellectual resource for the democratization of [media] culture” (166). In privileging fan culture at the level of the individual, S/LASH opens a dialogue between filmmaker and members of the audience, many of whom are presumably science fiction fans, to reassess industry assumptions about the masculinist nature and appeal of the genre. In validating fan fiction, an art form that scholar Carolyn Dinshaw might assess as residing within the queer temporal realm of the “amateur” as opposed to the linear timeline of the “professional,” S/LASH celebrates the work of filmmakers like Troche, Haxton, and Raval, who effectively blur the line between reception and production as a means of queering the entertainment industry.
Realist Fantasy: REACHING FOR THE MOON and PIT STOP
Described in the Polari program as an “intimate snapshot of the search for romantic and artistic inspiration” and a “quietly charming tale of small town Texas romance,” respectively, REACHING FOR THE MOON and PIT STOP explore the convergence of reality and fantasy in terms of spectator pleasure. These films’ overt embrace of formal and narrative melodrama confronts politically fraught notions of “realism,” and invites comparison with the science fiction shorts despite differences in genre classification.
REACHING FOR THE MOON interrogates notions of biography in its exploration of American poet Elizabeth Bishop’s romance with Brazilian architect and politician Lota de Macedo. The film’s hyper-stylized editing and cinematography, which includes sweeping long takes, a high-key lighting concept that illuminates the “naturalized” setting of Lota’s home, soft-focus close-ups, and other indicators of melodramatic excess forefront the film’s emotive, subjective interpretation of biographical “fact” and disrupt patriarchal understandings of archival “truth.” Christine Gledhill in “Speculations on the Relationship Between Soap Opera and Melodrama” discusses the political force of melodrama as its ability to “construct improbable inter-personal conjunctures, permitting emotional enactments within fantasies disallowed by social or cultural convention, which can then be worked over according to women’s fictional forms as if they are real” (121). REACHING FOR THE MOON’s recreation of “true events” in a soap operatic context privileges emotional attachment inherent in spectator pleasure over a faux-objective verisimilitude; in doing so the film reassesses the correlation between cinematic renderings of the real and fantastic by privileging a hyper-stylized, overtly artificial, but emotionally effective realization of the “true story” that appeals to sensory pleasures while addressing political positioning.
As opposed to much of the genre-specific media that Gledhill and Ang address, REACHING FOR THE MOON, as well as the science fiction shorts discussed previously, overtly rather than implicitly address the politics of their respective genre conventions. REACHING FOR THE MOON remains cognizant of United States military interventionism in Brazil but complicates the political situation by aligning audience sympathy with Bishop, who remains quietly complicit in the overthrow of Brazil’s elected government out of devotion to Macedo. Rather than shifting style from fantasy romance/escapism to realist military entrenchment, exemplified by films such as THE YEAR OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY (1982), REACHING FOR THE MOON defies convention by addressing politics through romance rather than alongside it. The political ambiguity of fantasy, in this regard, presents a queer-oriented subjectivity devoid of closure that defies the realist/fantasy binary prevalent in many biopic narratives.
Conversely, PIT STOP adopts a recognizably “gritty” and subdued aesthetic emblematic of realist tone but also incorporates tenets of fantasy in its narrative and culminates in a sex scene indicative of otherworldly release. Despite a low key, high contrast lighting design that emphasizes a brown/gray color palate, the film’s leisurely pacing established through beautiful long takes pertains more directly to Needham’s understanding of queer time as favoring “arrest, coincidence, and time-wasting” (152), as the dual narratives of protagonists Gabe and Ernesto slowly converge. The film’s director Yen Tan also noted in a question and answer session following the screening a “favorite moment” in which Gabe, suspended in a soft-focus close-up in his truck, sheds a single tear while implicitly contemplating alternative pasts and futures; the quiet and introspective moment lends itself overtly to melodramatic fantasy and queer travels, signifying “a time somewhere outside or inbetween” (ibid 156) that eschews temporal chronology. The final sex scene, held in a single take, appeals to audience members as sexual subjects, privileging arousal as an important component to realism rather than distinguishing the “seriousness” of drama from the “frivolity” of pleasurable sex. In helping to complicate genre conventions, in this regard, PIT STOP, like REACHING FOR THE MOON and the series of science fiction shorts, compels an alternative and profound audience identification.
While my focus thus far has emphasized textual analysis of the films presented at Polari, I feel that the subversive effect of genre interplay extends to the festival’s organizing principles, programs, and bumpers as well. The program nearly excises reference to genre entirely, denoting only whether the film presented is a short of feature, narrative or documentary. “Don’t Just Sit There,” as the festival’s tagline, incites festival participants to engage in analytical discussion with fellow spectators and filmmakers, allowing for the advancement of personal subjectivity to overtake passive spectatorship. Bumpers referencing and resituating films with homophobic connotations such as BASIC INSTINCT within a context of queer pleasure invites an embrace of traditionally maligned texts and genres (in this case, the thriller). While genre interplay and intrinsic queer pleasure remain defining (but unspoken) features of many mainstream and underground films, as scholar Alex Doty observes, the Polari atmosphere invites industry and reception to enter into potentially transformative dialogue.
Ang, Ien. Desperately Seeking the Audience. New York: Routledge, 1991.
Gledhill, Christine. “Speculations on the Relationship between Soap Opera and Melodrama.” Quar. Rev. of Film and Video 14(1-2) (1992): 103-124
Jenkins, Henry. “STAR TREK Rerun, Reread, Rewritten: Fan Writing as Textual Poaching.” Television: The Critical View (5th Edition). Ed. Horace Newcomb. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.
Needham, Gary. “Scheduling Normativity.” Queer TV: Theories, Histories, Politics. Ed.
Glyn Davis and Gary Needham. New York: Routledge, 2009.
BEFORE YOU KNOW IT and Ageism in GLBTQ Communities
by Chris Mayer
In today’s youth and beauty-obsessed culture, the elders among us are often cast aside by the younger generations, this is especially true for many GLBTQ seniors. Screening at this year’s Polari Fest, BEFORE YOU KNOW IT, directed by PJ Raval, follows the lives of three gay men, all of whom are close to retirement age or well passed it. The documentary follows them as they navigate their respective communities. We first meet Dennis, a retired veteran who lives in Florida. Then there is Ty, the youngest of the trio who runs the Harlem Sage Center (advocacy group for GLBTQ seniors). The third person Raval followed, Robert, owns and runs a bar in Louisiana. Over the course of the film there are many highs and lows, some unique to GLBTQ life, others that are common across senior living. Raval’s honest and delicate approach expertly captures the men’s experiences across the country. It was one of my favorites of the festival. BEFORE YOU KNOW IT also offers a unique opportunity to discuss queer seniors, and their cultural experience, specifically the challenges age differences can bring to queer spaces.
GLBTQ individuals over the age of 55 can recall a past where concepts like gay marriage were unimaginable, “like describing an iPod to someone in the 1970s…” as Ty described it in the documentary. They lived through the Reagan administration, the rise of the Christian right, and of course, the AIDs crisis. However, they have also been around for the greatest strides in GLBTQ civil rights the world has ever known. Fourteen states now have legalized gay marriage, GLBTQ individuals can now serve openly in the military, and for the first time, even our current president has voiced support for gay marriage. It is a group of individuals that could have never fathomed the advent of virtual queer spaces like Grindr. For queer seniors, politically speaking, however, it truly has gotten better.
And yet, as we see with Dennis in BEFORE YOU KNOW IT, despite all the political progress, life as a GLBTQ senior still presents many unique difficulties. In a blog post on ageism in GLBTQ communities John Savec writes:“…in the gay scene, those who are perceived as “old” are not just marginalized, they are often met with contempt, disgust and disdain.” The loneliness Dennis experiences is quite clear in BEFORE YOU KNOW IT, often by way of his own remarks, but also evident in his experience on a gay cruise in the documentary. As Dennis walks about the ship, we get to overhear snide remarks from others about older GLBTQ individuals, and see just how isolating queer spaces can be for seniors. Talk to any young gay man about Grindr, and you are sure to hear stories about older “creepers” and the like. Open any mainstream GLBTQ lifestyle magazine and you will find glossy pages of youthful twenty-somethings, if one thing is for sure, youth is valued just as much if not more in gay culture.
However, the later years for GLBTQ individuals are not always so trying, as we see with Ty and Robert in BEFORE YOU KNOW IT, there are gay individuals who easily find community despite a youth oriented culture, Ty with Sage and his longtime boyfriend, and Robert with his bar along with it’s many regulars. With Ty the GLBTQ political progress of the last ten years is especially salient. Even more so when considering how his story overlaps with the passing of gay marriage in New York State, Ty can now do more than just dream of getting married. While the jubilation amongst Ty and his group of friends is a happy reminder of how generations of hard political work is paying big dividends for the young and old alike. Dennis’ story is quite more haunting.
There is a certain depressing irony to Dennis’ experience, it is clear in the documentary he has struggled to come to terms with his own sexuality over the years, perhaps only making matters worse for him. For individuals who grew up in an incredibly hostile culture towards homosexuality, the coming out process is no doubt more difficult. This draws further attention to how ageism can create a new kind of hostile environment for GLBTQ seniors just beginning the coming out process. Perhaps even more ironic is the obvious eventuality that all people, GLBTQ or otherwise, will age.
While watching BEFORE YOU KNOW IT, as a young queer person, I admit I personally felt a bit guilty when watching Dennis, I know all too well that I certainly have held ageist views in the past. Raval’s documentary does beg the question, what is a young queer person to do? Highlighting the existence of organizations like Sage, does illustrate there are opportunities for activism that young people can get involved in on behalf of older GLBTQ individuals. While outreach and calls to action are surely more helpful than harmful, the problem of ageism in GLBTQ communities is more cultural and more complex than understanding ageism as a simple lack of information on the part of younger GLBTQ individuals.
One of the main culprits in promoting youthfulness is the media, surveying the shows that have gay main characters you would find a very specific demographic over represented. Young white males, from QUEER AS FOLK to THE NEW NORMAL gay media is overwhelmingly white and middle class, in what is very much connected to the idea of homonormativity. An idealized image of gay life and asipriations that is decidedly white, and middle class.
A more unique logic to consider is the idea that queer communities either have A) a higher preponderance of intergenerational coupling and/or B) intergenerational coupling is easily supported, and more open with outlets like Grindr. While the former point is difficult to know with any certainty, the latter one offers more insight. The formation of virtual communities has been embraced by GLBTQ individuals, creating queer spaces – real or virtual, has important subversive potential. Being on the margins of a heteronormative society, GLBTQ individuals have historically had trouble finding places to meet in a hostile legal and political environment. Hence, meeting underground, or in public through community “codes” in public bathrooms, GLBTQ people have always had to negotiate how to establish welcoming spaces.
The advent of the internet created new opportunities for the establishment of queer communities. Lauren Berlant and Michael Warner write in “Sex in Public,” “the queer world is a space of entrances, exists, unsystematized lines of acquaintance, projected horizons, typifying examples, alternate routes, blockages, incommensurate geographies.” This observation is even more true now with the internet, and the fractured geographies it brings about. Dating services, like Grindr, were unique to the GLBTQ experience for a time. Meet-up services had existed prior to Grindr, only they were based on landlines. With wide adoption of spaces like Grindr, generations easily get mixed between old and young. Perhaps GLBTQ individuals have a higher exposure to a wider array of age demographics, compared to say, a young straight male would. Which creates a feedback loop of sorts, that not only promotes isolation for those, like elders, whom are far from the mainstream gay ideal. Increased access to queer spaces in this case, literally engenders isolation. Conversely, the internet and other technologies also help bring about greater inclusion of marginalized members, we see this with SAGE in BEFORE YOU KNOW IT.
There is also the greater youth obsession that is inherent to the greater American culture. One needs to look only to the Hollywood idols with reconstructed facial features, dyed hair, and make up to see this. Although it is important to consider that generational differences in thinking are far more entrenched for GLBTQ individuals. The differences in thinking are often intertwined with personal identity formation, which can have a far greater impact when queer spaces mix generations. That is not imply, we should work to keep people segregated by age, but it is more a simple observation. How to overcome the issue of ageism in queer communities is a tough issue to solve. One that may even first require a tougher confrontation with the question of whether not anything can be done at all. No doubt, over time the gaps in thinking will shrink, and while the culture may not get less youth obsessed, there is still opportunity for greater collective ties as the political reality of being GLBTQ becomes less hostile.
In the end, raising awareness seems to be the best antidote for illuminating the challenges age brings to queer individuals. That is why documentaries such as BEFORE YOU KNOW IT are important and offer a unique perspective to a much needed queer population. With ever growing divides amongst people in an increasingly digital world, there is still a need to remind ourselves “we are all in this together.” And for all that is right about criticisms of GLBTQ identity based rights movements, no one can question that the political victories have been happily embraced by many. There will always be a need to foster community for people outside the mainstream, the political potential is too great not to. And with that responsibility also comes the task of asking, how can we foster a better community?
Lauren Berlant and Michael Warner. Critical Inquiry , Vol. 24, No. 2, Intimacy (Winter, 1998), pp. 547-566.
Raval, PJ, dir. BEFORE YOU KNOW IT. Unraval Pictures, 2013. Film.
Sovec, John. “From Twink to Troll: Age-ism in Gay Culture.” John Sovec Psychotherapy. Web. 25 Oct. 2013. <http://www.johnsovec.com/article-lgbt-issues/111-from-twink-to-troll-age-ism-in-gay-culture.html>.
Polari Film Festival Reflections
by Caitlin Cunningham
Individuals of the queer community pledge membership to a minority group. While their relationships and the way they engage with one another is not unlike those who fall under the heterosexual gender-binary, queers endure a unique set of issues encompassing the lifestyles of LGBTQIA. The 26th Annual Polari Film Festival explores a myriad of queer concepts through media such as sexual experience, culture, class, gender identity, and age. While attending the festival, a set of recurring themes were unveiled within each narrative and each theme possesses a resonating presence.
Taking part of and finding acceptance within a community is of grave importance within any minority assembly, especially queers. With rampant discrimination dispersed from the heteronormative, the need to take shelter among others with similar identities is a means necessary for survival. The film FIVE DANCES explores this sentiment via the main character Chip’s relocation and his subsequent quest to find community within three intertwined identities: a resident of New York City, a member of the SoHo dance studio and a homosexual male. The narrative beautifully captures the experience of moving somewhere completely foreign and exciting, while attempting to find a place within it. Chip has absolutely no financial or familial resources upon his arrival, which forces him to carve out his own niche within these established assemblies. The three different communities that Chip attempts to join are already full-fledged and functioning before his attempt to enter. Therefore, Chip must decipher the best way to nudge his way inside without disrupting the tides. Establishing membership within the homosexual community is particularly important because of Chip’s sexual inexperience. Through his friendship and eventual partnership with Theo, Chip is given the opportunity to explore an identity that otherwise may have been delayed.
Community is the most important subject explored in the documentary feature LESBIANA: A PARALLEL REVOLUTION. The film explores the nature behind lesbian feminist communal living and the creation of women’s/womyn’s only lesbian spaces. All of the artists, poets and revolutionaries interviewed expressed the keen significance of this style of living and the necessary male exclusionary component. In order to fully discover the power behind a commonwealth consisting of solely female residents, they need to be as far removed from suppressive patriarchal influence as possible. First they retreat into the wilderness, and then they build a society based on what values they deem both important and necessary for survival in this world.
In the Filipino film BWAKAW, rascally senior Rene finds community within a group of queens who operate a beauty salon in his small quaint town. At first the elder rejects the flamboyant nature behind the queens’ actions by proclaiming that he’s “not that kind of gay”; however, he eventually seeks support from them after realizing that even though their personalities do not necessarily match, they have to face similar issues such as suffering discrimination from the neighbors of their town and its inhabitants and accepting life’s third act concluding in death. It is through these similarities that Rene is able to bond with the homosexual queens and assimilate within the group based on the foundation of this common ground.
Another theme that takes prominence among this set of films is the call for expression. FIVE DANCES features beautiful and captivating choreography that perfectly encapsulates the haunting nature of the characters’ conflicts outside of the studio. One dance in particular occurs during Chip and Theo’s realization of their romantic and sexual feelings for one another, and their method of expression is through a sensual and intimate exchange of movement between just the two of them. Dance’s ability to articulate expression is as powerful as it is poetic, which helps drive the narrative of the film toward addressing all the characters’ needs.
The creative charge behind LESBIANA’s featured interviewees further explores this notion of expression. The women living in these feminist communities choose not to solely withdraw from society, never to be heard from again. Instead, they utilize the power of expression and find voice through art, music, poetry and spoken word, among others. They invest in these activities in order to convey their message and what their style of communal living signifies for them as individuals, as well as a group. It creates a relatable platform on which the inquisitive and curious mind is able to stand. Without expression, no one would know the reasoning behind their actions and removal from society, and a great portion of the point would be lost.
In the film BWAKAW, Rene has felt he has reached the end of the point of his existence. He wills what little possessions he has to even fewer friends, purchases a coffin on summer sale, and awaits death around the corner. However, despite all his preparation, he receives a new lease on life through his unlikely bond with taxi driver Sol. In an effort to convey his altered methodology, Rene dies his hair to look younger. It is through this act that Rene is able to feel confident and express official acceptance of his queer identity. He no longer awaits death but instead uses this approach of expression to indicate his remaining link to youth and the fact that he is still alive and looks forward to what remains. The meaning behind his expression is both powerful and heartbreaking.
Entering New York City without so much as an address or friend to call, Chip of FIVE DANCES finds himself homeless in the biggest city in the country. In desperate need of an invaluable resource that companionship can provide, he is approached one evening by Katie. Chip reveals to her that he has been sleeping every night at the dance studio after rehearsal. Katie listens empathetically, picks up Chip’s backpack, and welcomes him back to her apartment. The arrangement is defined up front as tentative; however, Chip knows that through this gesture that Katie’s companionship is not only imperative for his emotional development, but for his safety and wellbeing. Later in the film, Chip comes out to Katie and reveals to her the nature of his intimate and personal relationship with Theo. Afraid of the potential judgment and rejection founded in this hazardous disclosure, Chip inquires if he is still welcome to sleep on Katie’s couch that night after rehearsal. She embraces the companionship’s value and worth by confirming that he is still welcome, even after hearing this information. The friendship between Chip and Katie is based in symbiotic survival, as he also provides a confidant to her in times in distress.
Since the featured communities in LESBIANA are almost entirely women with few exceptions, the development of both romantic and platonic relationships takes place among the residents. Those women who feel the need to entirely withdraw from patriarchal influence by wholly excluding men bond with each other on a different level. They have mutually felt the discrimination and oppression of male-dominant society, and therefore companionship blossoms based in their relation on this subject matter. Sometimes the most gripping bonds are those brought together in hardship, which is definitely the case with the residents in the various neighborhoods discussed in LESBIANA.
Perhaps the most poignant example of companionship of these three films is the one between Rene and his dog BWAKAW. At first introduction of the mutt, Rene regards BWAKAW very little and considers him a pest. But post the dog’s cancer diagnosis, Rene reflects on the relationship he has with his pet and how it means more than he originally believed. The rest of the film follows Rene in his quest to uncover a cure for BWAKAW, only to eventually be defeated and witnes his pet perish. But despite this heartbreaking conclusion to BWAKAW’s life, Rene discovers a new meaning in his own. It is through this special and unique companionship that Rene reflects on the fact that although previously he had been awaiting death, he no longer wanted to adhere to this approach. BWAKAW taught Rene the meaning of caring for another being, regardless of man or animal. The old man proceeds to unpack his possessions that had been marked for inheritance and decides to continue on living. Although the friendly future that Rene once imagined for himself and BWAKAW has been annihilated with his pet’s passing, the sentiment remains. Because Rene spends the majority of the narrative braying at strangers and familiars alike, the meaning behind this companionship between man and beast is particularly significant. Despite their attempts, the local queens at the beauty parlor could not comprehend Rene’s demeanor, but BWAKAW had no need. His unconditional bond with Rene is what changed him for the better, and gave the elder a reason to seek to connect with other humans.
Queer film depicting queer relationships is a fairly safe space to explore the themes of community, expression and companionship present within these narratives and documentary feature. It is through this exploration of these themes and what it means within the queer realm that viewers are able to perceive them and think critically about their impact. The 26th Annual Polari Film Festival aims to both enlighten and educate audiences about the issues of the LGBTQAI community by entertaining through these stories. Upon departure from the theater after viewing all three films, the takeaway lies in the significance of all of these accounts and what they mean to both members within and allies to the queer community and for everything it stands.
Romance and Companionship in the Polari Film Festival
by Jennifer Reinwald
While attending the Polari Film Festival I noticed several recurring themes in the films I was able screen. Some of these themes include community, both within the films and between those attending the festival, sex, romance, and companionship. I will focus on the themes of romance and companionship in the films FIVE DANCES and REACHING FOR THE MOON. These films incorporate elements of romance and companionship in a way that not only shows them in a separate light, but also shows how these elements work hand in hand with one another.
FIVE DANCES, a smart film written and directed by Alan Brown, uses dance in a unique and artful way to explore relationships between a corps of dancers preparing for a festival and intertwines friendship, romance, and sex to develop complex relationships within the film. Chip, played by Ryan Steele, serves as the center of the relationship web built within the film. Eighteen and homeless in New York City, Chip finds more than just shelter and work within his dance troupe. The relationships he builds with Katie (Catherine Miller) and Theo (Reed Luplau) in particular build complex relationships that go beyond coworkers or even friendship. Katie provides Chip with a caring relationship, possibly the first one that Chip has really known as made evident from telephone conversations with his mother and allusions to an aloof father. Katie discovers that Chip is sleeping in the dance space and opens her home to him. Even though she makes it clear that it is only a temporary solution until Chip can figure out an alternative living situation, Katie has reached out to Chip ways that he had not experienced previously. His relationship with his mother seems to be a parasitic one, only important to the mother when she is in need, while his relationship with his father is one of exile, shipping Chip to military school rather than attempting to build a relationship with him. Katie’s outreach to Chip gives Chip the ability to feel comfortable. Rather than worrying about being caught sleeping in the rehearsal space, Chip has some semblance of stability in his life and can focus on dance and, more importantly, himself. Building a relationship with Katie that is supportive and accepting, but not presumptuous gives Chip an opportunity to explore other parts of his identity, specifically his sexuality.
As Chip becomes more comfortable with Katie, he seems to become more at ease with the company in general. Once the secret of his homelessness is out to Katie, it is less of a burden on Chip and he begins to build relationships and begin his own process of coming out to himself. When Chip is first confronted by Theo about his sexuality through sexual advances, he is hesitant and in denial of his sexual identity. Even though Chip and Theo kiss during their first encounter, Chip pulls away and abruptly leaves the rehearsal space. Eventually Chip and Theo have sex together, and at first, Chip is reluctant to accept what has happened, however, after confiding in Katie, Chip is able to realize his feelings for Theo and seeks a romantic relationship with him. One of the final scenes of the movie involves Chip and Theo talking and getting to know each other, dancing, and twirling together. The scene acts as a celebration of Chip’s outing to himself. The tone of the scene feels celebratory and hopeful and shows Chip comfortable for the first time in the movie. Chip also makes the decision to bring Theo to Kansas to meet his mother which implies that Chip may finally be ready to present his sexual identity to his family.
FIVE DANCES is a film about literal dancing that celebrates and encourages coming out through the figurative dancing that takes place in navigating identity and relationships with one’s self and with others. While there are sexual relationships within the film, it is the companionship Chip finds with Katie and later the romance with Theo that he is able to finally accept and embrace the sexual identity he had been denying. Even though we do not see how Chip’s relationship with Theo progresses, the beginning of the relationship is presented in a romantic light that seems innocent and hopeful. Through companionship and a pivotal sexual encounter, Chip is able to start a new chapter in life, one of self-acceptance rather than self-denial.
While FIVE DANCES focuses on the struggle of a modern day male to accept his sexuality, REACHING FOR THE MOON focuses on the struggles of Pulitzer Prize winning poet, Elizabeth Bishop (Miranda Otto), in the 1950s and 1960s embracing a lesbian sexual identity. Elizabeth seeks relaxation and goes to Brazil to stay with an old friend and ends up finding a new relationship in Lota de Macedo Soares (Glória Pires). Much like Chip in FIVE DANCES, Elizabeth uses her relationship with Lota to accept her sexual identity rather than continue to suppress it. Brazil was to serve as a space for Elizabeth to unwind and relax, and while it may have done that, it also became a space for Elizabeth to take a personal adventure in identity with new companionship. Despite the conflict with her friend Mary (Tracy Middendorf), Lota’s roommate/lover and mother to their adopted child, Elizabeth embraces her relationship. However, while Elizabeth accepts companionship, she does not always embrace the romantic side of the relationship. Even though the relationship is ultimately doomed to tragedy with Lota eventually committing suicide, the companionship Elizabeth finds with Lota is an experience that can be learned from and influential beyond Lota’s death.
Unlike FIVE DANCES, there seems to be little romance in the relationship. Elizabeth, despite embracing the relationship and the companionship provided by Lota, she does not give into romance. Elizabeth and Lota seem to have very distinct, homonormative roles in the relationship and those roles do not bend. Lota is the provider and gives Elizabeth everything she could want, from companionship to blowing up part of a mountain to build Elizabeth a studio where she can write poetry. Elizabeth on the other hand seems cold about the relationship and only takes what she is given and does not give much back. While there are romantic and intimate moments, such as when Elizabeth washes Lota’s hair, the moments are not consistent. Toward the end of the movie, Lota calls Elizabeth out on her coldness as she points out that Elizabeth never said “I love you” to Lota. Even though Elizabeth technically did once while Lota was asleep, there was never any effort to make those feelings known to Lota. Because there is little effort on Elizabeth’s part to engage in any sort of romantic behavior with Lota, the relationship, though pivotal in helping Elizabeth embrace her sexual identity, does not create a mutual connection between the two. Lota becomes dependent on Elizabeth and breaks down when she leaves to teach a semester at NYU. While their relationship is about the companionship of the other, the expectations Elizabeth and Lota have of each other are lopsided and, ultimately, neither could offer the other what they wanted and needed. The relationship, at a certain point, becomes a façade for all of Elizabeth and Lota’s problems, especially once jealousy plagues the relationship once Lota adopts a baby with Mary. Slowly, it becomes apparent that their relationship is more important to Lota than it is to Elizabeth. While the relationship helps Elizabeth explore her sexual identity, it does not function in a way that ultimately enhances the quality of her life. Because Lota is clearly more invested in the relationship than Elizabeth, there is an overarching sense of guilt throughout the film, especially when Lota is admitted to the psychiatric hospital. The companionship without the romance ultimately dooms the relationship.
The theme of companionship in FIVE DANCES and REACHING FOR THE MOON speaks to a larger sense of community that was felt at the festival and is evident in other LGBTQIA spaces. For instance, the sense of community felt in spaces such as Ball Rooms as explored in the documentary PARIS IS BURNING, as well as drag communities explored by Jack (Judith) Halberstam in his exploration of female masculinity in drag king performances, helps people explore and embrace their identities. Companionship is a part of community and even though the relationships in FIVE DANCES and REACHING FOR THE MOON are shown within the context of a small group or community, they can be placed in the larger context of the LGBTQIA community in the cities in which the relationships are fostered. Even though companionship and romance are expressed and utilized in different ways, FIVE DANCES and REACHING FOR THE MOON offer intimate looks into how two different people in two different time periods looked to others to help them accept and embrace their identity.
The Polari Film Festival may be over, but LGBTQIA cinema is alive and well in Austin, TX. There is a strong showing of LGBTQIA films at this year’s Austin Film Festival and Conference (10/24-10/31), and we could not be happier to support their efforts.
Also, we have great news for our members! AFF is offering FREE access to the screening of G.B.F. at the Paramount Theatre on Saturday, October 26th, at 9:30PM for anyone with a Polari Badge. Plus, they are offering the following Special Polari Member Badge Pricing:
Producers Badges: $625 – Polari members save $50
Conference Badges: $400 – Polari members save $50
Weekend Badges: $300 – Polari members save $50
Lone Star Badges: $100 – Polari members save $25
For more information on AFF badges, click here.
POLARI IS A PROUD CO-SPONSOR OF THE FOLLOWING FILMS AT AFF:
Tired of being overlooked for bigger roles, Herman, a struggling dwarf actor, auditions for the role of the Tin Man in Martin Scorsese’s proposed remake of THE WIZARD OF OZ. Enlisting his crush, the bartending rival for her affections, a dishwasher who watches a lot of movies, and his own brother, a still-closeted Judy-Garland fan, Herman sets out to make the perfect audition tape, rewriting the classic to feature sexual tension between Dorothy and the Tin Man (as if there wasn’t already). A funny and poignant story of friendship and overcoming self-defeat, THE LITTLE TIN MAN is an uplifting comedy that proves no dream is too big to chase. Click above for showtimes and additional information.
Long overdue on a book delivery, stay-at-home graphic novelist Sam Tucker (O’Keefe) finds it increasingly difficult to muster the courage for his work. Feeling their distance, Sam’s wife suspects an affair with the provocative woman-next-door. However, Sam”s actual distraction is a fellow “housewife,” his gay neighbor Jeff. A touching film about friendship and confidence, FINDING NEIGHBORS is director Judkins’s first film since his 1999 AFF Audience Award winner, THE HI-LINE. Click above for showtimes and additional information.
The fight for supremacy between a trio of the school”s most popular girls take an unexpected turn when Tanner (Michael J. Willet) becomes its first openly gay student. As they race to bag the big trend in fashion accessories – the Gay Best Friend – Tanner must choose between his skyrocketing popularity and the friends he is leaving behind. Darren Stein (JAWBREAKER) returns with another comic send-up of high school clique culture, featuring Sasha Pieterse (Pretty Little Liars) and Xosha Roquemore (PRECIOUS). Polari badgeholders will be allowed in free in the AFF badge line. Click above for showtimes and additional information.
After spending a night out, Gavin and his recently-dumped friend Amy return to find an attractive guy passed out in front of Gavin’s apartment. They decide to take him in and over the next couple of days each character’s life unfolds, exposing insecurities, lies and unfulfilled desires. Click above for showtimes and additional information.
Polari will also be co-presenting the following panel:
OPEN TO Conference and Producers BADGE HOLDERS ONLY. These days, the radical activist slogan “We’re here! We’re queer! We’re everywhere!” seems to ring truer than ever. Political gains, from marriage to the military, and the overwhelming success of pop culture texts, have given LGBT folks and their allies cause to cheer. What’s more, the mainstream attention paid to queer cinema suggests that films once confined to the LGBT niche market have increasing crossover potential. Join this discussion on LGBT cinema in today’s supposed “queer-friendly” market, on what it takes to hit the mainstream, and what barriers still exist. Panelists will discuss their own experiences and insights on these matters and more.
Other films of interest include:
See you at the movies!
Directors Fraser Green, PJ Raval and Drew Denny take home Polari Battys!
The results are in! This was a truly outstanding year of film programming at Polari. Thank you to all of the filmmakers for sharing their phenomenal work and congratulations to all of the winners listed below. Special thanks to Aaron Flynn for turning the Polari awards into fabulous queered bat art.
Jury Award for Best Narrative Feature
THE MOST FUN I’VE EVER HAD WITH MY PANTS ON, directed by Drew Denny
Honorable Mention for Narrative Feature
ANIMALS, directed by Marçal Forés
Jury Award for Best Narrative Short
A WORLD FOR RAUL, directed by Mauro Mueller
Honorable Mention for Narrative Short
HATCH, directed by Christoph Kuschnig and Felix Striegel
Jury Award for Best Documentary Feature
DEEPSOUTH, directed by Lisa Biagiotti
Jury Award for Best Documentary Short
DRAFT DAY, directed by Josh Kim
Jury Award for Best Experimental Feature
VALENCIA, directed by Peter Anthony, Sharon Barnes Rubenstein, Aubree Bernier-Clarke, Cary Cronenwett, Bug Davidson, Cheryl Dunye, Lares Feliciano, Dia Felix, Hilary Goldberg, Silas Howard, Alexa Inkeles, Michelle Lawler, Jerry Lee, Olivia Parriott, Jill Soloway, Sara St. Martin Lynne, Samuael Topiary, Courtney Trouble, Chris Vargas and Greg Youmans.
Jury Award for Best Experimental Short
A DAY FOR CAKE AND ACCIDENTS, directed by Steve Reinke and Jessie Mott
The My Queer Movie Award
(AN)OTHER, directed by Fraser Green
The Scott Dinger Audience Award
BEFORE YOU KNOW IT, directed by PJ Raval
Saturday, October 19th
10:00PM – 2:00AM
Chain Drive (504 Willow St.)
FREE Members/Badge Holders | $3 General Public
It’s time to break the light bulbs and find a dark corner as Polari Film Festival celebrates the salty and seedy with an afterparty toasting two amazing films at the festival…
We’ve gone and picked the prize pig of all late night watering holes for this gathering…
THE CHAIN DRIVE!!
Witness live performances by artists
And lose yourself to the ultra slick stylings of
DJs Fine & Dandy (with Kate & Andy)
Expect every form, fashion, sex, style, gender and drink for this well rounded romp.
See you there, Kittens!
For Facebook invite click here.
Past and present Austinites are set to make a big splash at this year’s Polari (AGLIFF) Film Festival, Oct. 16-20. These multi-talented filmmakers and actors, all of whom will be IN ATTENDANCE at the festival, confirm what we in Austin have known for quite some time: This city inspires some truly outstanding art!
A fixture in the Austin queer and film scenes, PJ Raval is an artist who resists easy classification. A multi-award winning cinematographer of such films as the Oscar-nominated TROUBLE THE WATER, Raval is also the director of the controversial, no-holds-barred Christeene music videos. This year, Raval follows-up his first feature documentary, TRINIDAD, with one of the best films of the year, BEFORE YOU KNOW IT, a humorous and heartfelt documentary that follows the lives of three gay seniors living in three distinct communities, including Galveston, TX.
Director, Drew Denny, and star, Sarah Hagan, of our U.S. Dramatic Spotlight THE MOST FUN I’VE EVER HAD WITH MY PANTS ON, both grew up in Austin, TX. PANTS, which follows these women on a wild and gorgeous road trip from LA to Austin, captures our great city – and the Austin bats! – in all its outlaw charm. Polari is very excited to bring this stunning film to Texas for the very first time, as well as to welcome Denny and Hagan back to the city they used to call home.
Malaysian-born Yen Tan has made the definitive Texas gay romance with the sweet and sexy PIT STOP, a top pick at Polari26. PIT STOP is Tan’s third feature, following on the heels of HAPPY BIRTHDAY (Best Feature at the Philadelphia Gay & Lesbian International Film Festival) and CIAO (named by AFTERELTON as the “best gay movie I’ve seen this year”). But, Tan’s talent doesn’t end there, he is also an acclaimed poster designer. In fact, Tan, as Polari’s Creative Director, is the man in charge of this year’s fantastic dance-themed festival design.
Scott Marlowe, who got his dance degree from UT Austin, must have been taught well, because he moves and glides like nobody’s business in TEST. A dance film set in the risky gay world of San Francisco circa 1985, TEST has been racking up awards on the festival scene (including two Grand Jury Prizes at Outfest in LA) and has earned favorable comparisons to such gay cinema classics as PARTING GLANCES. We are very excited to welcome Marlowe back to Austin and are very happy to be able to honor TEST with the coveted Closing Night spot.
Other Austin filmmakers (past and present) featured in this year’s festival include: Silky Shoemaker (HOW DO WE KNOW EACH OTHER?), Rachael Shannon (BREASTIVAL VESTIBULE), Jenn Garrison (DANCE LIKE NO ONE’S WATCHING), Clay Liford (SLASH), John Anderson, Arvind Hathaway, Shasparay Lee, Sidney Mcintyre, Daniel Rangel, Valentina Weatherspoon, and Evan Roberts (WHITEWASH), Bug Davidson (VALENCIA), John Donofrio (THE POSER), Brittany Reeber (PSYCHO BILLY), Keith Wilson (INTERIOR. LEATHER BAR.), Mo Nierman (STILL.1) and Catherine Lee (APRIL’S JOKE).
For the full festival schedule, click here.