(USA) - "Freeheld: The Laurel Hester Story," Cynthia Wade's 38-minute film that chronicled the battle of a 25-year veteran of the Ocean County, New Jersey police, as she was dying of cancer, to transfer her earned pension to her lesbian partner, won the Oscar for Best Short Documentary in Hollywood on February 24. Ocean County freeholders had the legal option to extend those benefits under New Jersey's 2004 domestic partner law, but did not do so until Lieutenant Hester waged her successful struggle on partner Stacie Andree's behalf against their initially adamant refusal. Garden State Equality, the New Jersey LGBT civil rights lobby, celebrated the film's nomination (and victory) at the South Orange Performing Arts Center while the Oscar broadcast was being aired.
Note: Read more on Gay City News
(Germany) - This year's Berlinale also offered a clutch of films dealing with aspects of sexuality and Islam that have long been considered taboo. Indian director Parvez Sharma's "A Jihad for Love," a documentary about gay and lesbian Muslims, includes interviews with Muslim homosexuals from 12 countries, while Tanaz Eshaghian's "Be Like Others" examines the ramifications of undergoing a sex change in Iran. Another documentary "The Other Side of Istanbul," by Dondu Kilic, explores discrimination in Turkey's capital from the perspective of a gay man whose family has accepted his homosexuality.
Note: Read more on AFP
(Russia) - The EAST/WEST - Sex & Politics documentary by German director Jochen Hick will be shown at the Annual International Film Festival Berlinale on February 11. The film is about Russian Gays attempts to hold a Gay Pride parade in Moscow, parade organizer Nikolay Alexeyev told Interfax on Monday. Hick and his colleagues visited Russia for two years. The director filmed the two unauthorized Moscow Gay Pride parades of May 2006 and May 2007, the protest against Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov during his meeting with other mayors in London, and a visit of Russian Gay activists to the European Parliament.
Note: Read more on Interfax
(USA) - Hollywood actor Heath Ledger has been found dead at his home in Manhattan. "He was found unconscious at the apartment and pronounced dead," the New York Police Department said, adding that pills were found near the body. Police are reportedly investigating if the Australian actor - nominated for an Oscar for Brokeback Mountain - died of an overdose of prescription pills. Father Kim Ledger said that the death of his 28-year-old "dearly loved son" had been "tragic" and "accidental". Speaking in the actor's home town of Perth, in Western Australia, Mr Ledger said that his son had been a "down to earth, generous, kind hearted, life-loving, unselfish individual".
Note: Read more on BBC
(USA) - A dying wish of Lt. Laurel Hester was that the documentary film made of her last days as she battled against cancer – and the ‘freeholders’ of Ocean County in New Jersey – would be able to compete for an ‘Oscar’. Today, in Los Angeles, members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences granted that wish when FREEHELD made it to the final four titles in the “Best Documentary Short Subject”. The film won the Special Jury Prize at last year’s Sundance Film Festival and awards at 11 other festivals. The 38-minute film, made by Cynthia Wade, tells the story of Lt. Hester, who for almost 25 years served her community as a police officer, and her fight with local officials to be able to leave her police pension to her long-term and committed partner Stacie Andre.
Note: Read more on UK Gay News
(Egypt) - Religious scholars in Egypt are outraged by a lesbian scene in a new movie, telling audiences to stay away from the sinful flick and calling for the director and actresses to be prosecuted. Preacher and Islamic Studies professor at Cairo University, Dr. Abdel-Sabour Shahin accused the new movie, Hina Maysara (Until Further Notice), of 'spreading homosexuality' and promoting debauchery. Director Khaled Youssef said he was offended by criticism leveled at the movie and asked people to watch it before they passed judgment. "I will not respond to those who criticize without even watching the movie. Lots of people accuse me of apostasy and immorality based on seeing the film poster."
Note: Read more on Al Arabiya
(USA) - It's hardly a secret in Hollywood that Jodie Foster is Gay. Everybody with an interest in her private life – whether prurient or more personal – has known it for at least as long as she has been an Oscar-winning actress, which is pushing 20 years by now. (She won an Academy Award for her role as a rape victim in 1988's The Accused, and again three years later for her indelible performance as Clarice Starling in Silence of the Lambs.) An equally open secret is that she is one of the Hollywood few who is actually in a stable long-term relationship. Scour the internet and it doesn't take long to find out that her partner's name is Cydney Bernard, that they have been together since 1993, and that they are bringing up two children conceived and delivered by Foster – Charles, who is nine, and Kit, six.
Note: Read more on Independent
(Israel) - In a ceremony held Sunday in Jerusalem, the film V'ahavta was declared the best feature film produced by a Ma'ale film school graduate. The movie, directed by Chaim album, depicts the struggle endured by an ultra-Orthodox yeshiva student forced to sublimate his homosexual tendencies in a largely intolerant society. Ultimately the film's protagonist comes to the realization that his struggle is futile, and comes to accept himself as a religious Gay man. He makes peace with himself and with his creator, in a haunting story line that largely parallels Album's own life story.
Note: Read more on Ynet
(USA) - The Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival turns 12 this year and, after viewing some of the 75 programs and 150 narrative features, documentaries and short films, one feels like the fest has undergone a rite of passage that's pushed it to a higher plateau of sophistication. The low-budget outlaw days of "queer cinema" may seem to have ebbed since AIDS turned 25 and once-radical activists are now middle-age boomers. Many of the great rebel filmmakers who revolutionized gay movies -- Derek Jarman for one -- are gone. At least the spirit of those times still underscores the scene.
Note: Read more on SeattlePi
(UK) - A coming-of-age drama about a Lesbian teenager has won the £25,000 Iris Prize - thought to be the largest ever award for a Gay and Lesbian short film. Its director Dee Rees, from the United States, will now use the money to make another short film in the UK. Her film Pariah was chosen by judges as the best entry of the 30 shortlisted at the end of a three day film festival in Cardiff. It also won the NewFest festival award in New York earlier this year. Ms Rees' 27-minute film follows the teenage girl as she unsuccessful tries to juggle multiple identities to avoid rejection from her friends and family.
Note: Read more on BBC
As the singer for Queen, one of the most successful British bands of the '70s and '80s, Freddie Mercury was one of the most distinctive and instantly recognizable personalities rock has ever produced -- a flamboyant icon millions of fans around the world thought they knew, despite his many chameleon-like glam-rock guises. In sharp contrast, very few people knew Farrokh Bulsara, the kind, shy but intensely ambitious child born on the African island of Zanzibar and raised by parents who were Parsis, hailing from the Indian province of Gujarat and practicing the ancient religion of Zoroastrianism. Mercury and Bulsara were nevertheless one and the same, and this is part of the fascinating story told in director Rudi Dolezal's documentary, "Freddie Mercury: The Untold Story."
Note: Read more on Sun Times
(UK) - A film festival featuring what the organisers claim is largest ever prize for a gay and lesbian short film is opening in Cardiff. The inaugural Iris Prize Festival will screen the 30 films shortlisted for the prize, worth £25,000, and host premieres for feature-length films. Talks, debates, workshops and parties will also be held at Chapter Arts Centre and Cineworld. The prize winner will be announced on the festival's last day, on Saturday. The prize will allow the winner to make their next short film in the UK.
Note: Read more on BBC
Now Hollywood has also gone playgay. This week sees the UK release of I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry in which two New York firefighters (played by Adam Sandler and Kevin James) pretend to be Gay lovers in a domestic partnership for financial reasons (sound familiar?). So why the current crush of straights on playing Gay? Probably the main reason for the popularity of playgay is that it's reassuringly straight. In a world that is getting gayer by the day the only way to be sure of straightness is by having straight men pretend to be Gay. Because, in the end, despite being made to wear designer
underwear, use moisturiser and treat women with some respect they are still straight and still untouched. Gayness turns out to be sexless.
Note: Read more on Guardian
(Italy) - Ed Radtke's film Speed of Life won the Queer Lion award at the Venice Film Festival, a new prize for the best film that accurately portrays Gay themes or characters. Lyrical and raw, The Speed Of Life tells the story of Sammer (Jeremy Allen White), a 13 year old Gay boy who escapes the streets of New York City by stealing video cameras from tourists. The kid and his friends retreat to their working class neighborhood to quickly change the cameras for cash, but Sammer always keeps the tapes. Read more...
(USA) - Sean Penn will play Gay politician Harvey Milk in director Gus Van Sant's biopic of the popular public official. The movie will start production in San Francisco in December this year. A story in the Hollywood Reporter also claims that Matt Damon will play Dan White, who shot the San Francisco city supervisor and Mayor George Moscone in 1978. The assassin, Dan White, was sentenced to seven years in prison. Outrage over the mild verdict led to the White Night Riots in San Francisco. White committed suicide in 1985 after serving five years of his seven-year sentence. Read more...
Cruising is William Friedkin's notorious thriller starring Al Pacino as a NYPD cop deranged - sexually and otherwise - by his contact with the "hardcore Gay underground." Cruising's seedy ambience and dubious sexual politics inflamed the Gay community, leading to protests throughout its filming in the summer of 1979, and continuing outside movie theaters when it opened in February of 1980. Gay folks took to Village rooftops, pointing mirrors at the shoot to interfere with the lighting, and surrounded the set blasting whistles and air horns. The most resourceful found out which apartments Friedkin would be using and set up in adjacent units to blast stereos.
Note: Read more on Village Voice
(Canada) - With 9/11-themed films dominating the Toronto International Film Festival this week, Indian filmmaker Parvez Sharma is grabbing attention with "A Jihad For Love," a documentary six years in the making about Islam and homosexuality. The filmmaker insists his documentary illuminates more of an "inner struggle" on the part of Muslim gays and lesbians for recognition of themselves and their faith, rather than the cultural wars and religious battlegrounds often depicted in contemporary media accounts. Sharma filmed gay Muslims in 12 countries and nine languages, including India, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Egypt, South Africa and France, and always shot footage in secret to escape the attention of local authorities.
Note: Read full article on Hollywood Reporter
(New Zealand) - Triangle Television Chief Executive Officer Jim Blackman says despite the popularity of YouTube and other easy-access internet forums, filmmakers still see television as an important vehicle for their works. However, Blackman does admit that the YouTube generation may have impacted the length of the films submitted this year. All are less than an hour long, many just minutes in length, and the German security camera offering lasts just 50 seconds. This is the fourth year Triangle Television has organised Sproquets, inviting film and documentary makers from around the world to contribute their works.
Note: Read more on Gay NZ
(Indonesia) - Indonesia's gay film festival faced violent opposition in its early years. Members of a hardline Islamic group tried to storm theatres to stop screenings, but as the festival enters its sixth year, organizer John Badalu has no such fears. The opening of the week-long Q! Film Festival (QFF) on Friday drew a flamboyant crowd in Jakarta, with members of the audience dressed in colorful wigs, fish-net stockings and cupid wings. Homosexuality is not banned under Indonesian law, but remains taboo in a country where 85 percent of the 220 million people are Muslim. "The festival has provided some sort of impetus for the gay rights movement in Indonesia, and has enabled many issues to surface," Badalu said.
Note: Read full article on stuff.co.nz
(Rome, Italy) - The Queer Lion award is finally coming to the Venice Film Festival after four years of negotiations. The prize will be awarded to the best full-length film in competition or in any of the festival's sidebars that features a gay theme or character, even if the character does not play a central role. The name Queer Lion is a take on Venice's main prize, the Golden Lion. With 22 films in competition at the 64th annual event - which runs August 29 to September 8 -- and about three dozen others screening in sidebars, Casagrande said he expects "around 10 or 12" films to be candidates for the prize. The plaudit is a gold plaque with the Venice Lion winged logo in black with the rainbow colors of the gay pride flag on the wings. A small international jury will select the winner.
Note: Read full article on Reuters
Surveillance is a fast paced sexual and political thriller set in London. It stars Tom Harper as Adam, a gay teacher who lives in Surrey and comes to London on the weekends to go clubbing and pick up men. A casual encounter with a handsome stranger, Jake (Sean Brenden Brosnan) brings Adam to the attention of powerful, unseen forces. They rob him of his job and follow his every move. Suddenly, Adam's life is a mess, and he’s in serious danger. But why him? Then Adam discovers that Jake planted on him the only evidence of an affair with a gay royal.
Note: Read full article on Pink News
Following last month’s news that the Pentagon had devised a ‘gay bomb,’ Gay porn company Dark Alley has jumped at the opportunity to make a film inspired by pseudo science-fiction, inherently homophobic military maneuver. ...Dark Alley described the upcoming “Gay bomb”, to begin filming in November 2007, as follows: ...“Desperate to fend off its attackers, the US launches the experimental ‘gay bomb,’ designed to make the enemy forces drop their guns and turn fag. But the winds of fate blow in a different direction, and soon America is brought to its knees.”
Note: Full article at Gay.com UK
(Kolkata, India) - A little boy who wished he was a girl so that he wouldn't need to hide his love for his classmate - also a boy. If this story stirs something in your heart, here is something for you: a weeklong film festival from the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities. Malobika of Sappho said they hoped the film festival would create awareness and end bashing of gays. Licensed to Kill is a chilling documentary on men who murdered homosexuals with Dong doing seven on-camera interviews with convicted killers of homosexuals. "Why did you do it?", he asks each of them.
Note: Read full article on India Times
(Seul, South Korea) - Painting the world with rainbows and giving sexual minorities a voice, the 2007 Seoul Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual/gender Film Festival will unfold from June 6 to 10 at Seoul Art Cinema. A total of 15 international and domestic films, including full-length pieces and shorts, will be screened. The festival, newly dubbed SeLFF, provides anyone and everyone a chance to celebrate their respective identities in full color. Through the language of cinema, the most commercial form of mass communication, the event speaks out to the world ``This is Queer,’’ as part of the 8th Korea Queer Culture Festival (www.kqcf.org), also to continue until June 10.
Note: Read full article on Korea Times
(India) - In a healthy sign of widening cultural acceptance of the gay experience in India, the 2007 Nigah Queer Festival has made daily news since opening to a diverse crowd of Delhiites last Friday. Part of the ongoing campaign for the legalisation of gay rights, the festival presented the hard politics alongside a series of events exploring varied forms of queer expression in cultures from India, Israel and Canada, to Hong Kong and Bosnia and Herzegovina. For 10 days, queer artists, filmmakers, performers and musicians had an alternative forum to strut their talent and present work in context with other like-minded artists and sympathetic audiences.
Note: Read full article on www.tehelka.com
(Riga, Latvia) - As part of Riga Pride and Friendship Days 2007 taking place from May 31 - June 3, two LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) Film Nights will be held in Riga, organized by the NGO Mozaika and financed by the Social Integration Fund from an EU grant. As Andrejs Visockis, a Mozaika member and the LGBT Film Nights organizer, puts it, “The purpose is to highlight themes of interest for the local LGBT community and raise awareness about LGBT individuals through international films which would otherwise not be shown in Latvia.”
Note: Read full article on Baltic Times
(India) - Five students of St Joseph's College of Communication at Chenganassery in Kerala were expelled last month for making a film on homosexuality. Secret Minds is a five minute film that explores the hypocrisy surrounding homosexuality in our society. Jeo Baby, the director of the film, does not regret making it, but what he regrets is that along with him four of his fellow students were expelled for acting in the film. ''I made a film about homosexuality. In our society, lot of homosexual people live with us. How many of them admit to being homosexuals? They are secret minds, that is our mentality, we live in a secret society,'' said Jeo Baby, Expelled film student.
Note: Read full article on NDTV.com
(Manchester, UK) - Aa Manchester moves in to the second week of the annual Queerupnorth festival the promoters have again cast their net far and wide to bring in as wide a range as possible of gay and lesbian culture, both retrospective and cutting-edge. Few however represent both retro and cutting-edge equally and as precisely as the magical short films of Kenneth Anger showing at Cornerhouse (Wednesday, 6pm).
Note: Read full article on Manchester Evening News
(Singapore) - A Singaporean movie about a homosexual relationship between a teacher and his 18-year-old student has been pulled from a local film festival after government censors said sex scenes from the film had to be cut because the film contained "prolonged and explicit homosexual lovemaking scenes including scenes of oral sex and threesome sex" which had to be removed. Organizers of the Singapore International Film Festival and producers of "Solos" said Monday the film would be withdrawn from public screening in line with the festival's policy of only showing uncensored films.
Note: Read full article on China Post
(South Africa) - Brenda Fassie's former dancer and choreographer Fanney Tsimong had more than just dreams and ambitions - meaning to go even beyond the stage. Having spent seven years working with the late Fassie, Tsimong today entered the film scenes as director. Tsimong was last year (in an annual Mail & Guardian newspaper competition known as 101 that started only last year for young promising South Africans) spotted among a tough competition. It all started when still a greenhorn in 1999 when he saw an advert about the Out in Africa gay and lesbian film festival, and wanted to enter the festival without formal training but only passion. Read more...
(South Africa) - "Out in Africa" Gay & Lesbian Film Festival and the Italian Institute of Culture are calling for for proposals for lesbian & gay short films (8 - 10 minutes length). The call is open to those who have some filmmaking experience, but who may not have yet had the opportunity to make a film. Read more...
Ivan Dulin is the only gay milling machine operator in the world. But that may be one too many, judging from a kerfuffle reported in Komsomolskaya Pravda this week. The character from a television sketch show called "Our Russia" has had to switch jobs after metalworkers in Chelyabinsk got hot under their blue collars.
Note: Details are in the Moscow Times
(Kathmandu, Nepal) - The Himalayan nation's gay community and activists are to host the first gay and lesbian film festival in Kathmandu. The Blue Diamond Society, Nepal's only organisation for the sexual minorities, will hold the first gay film festival from May 17-20, on the eve of the historic June elections, at the capital's City Hall, that was a key venue of the controversial local elections held by Gyanendra in 2006. Fourteen films, from countries as diverse as India, France and Canada, will be screened before the festival winds up with a beauty pageant by metis gay men who dress as women.
Note: More info is at The times of India
For some people, the return of Prick Up Your Ears to cinemas next week will be of little significance. But for me, this biopic about the short life of the playwright Joe Orton is the catalyst for a tidal wave of ambivalent memories associated with the film's original release. You see, I was there when it opened on May 7 1987. That carbuncular 15-year-old in the stupid hat, sitting in the front row at the Curzon West End cinema (known to you young whippersnappers as the Curzon Soho), feeling very pleased with himself for getting into an "18" film - reader, that was me.
Note: Read the rest in the Guardian
(UK) - Russell T. Davies is the man behind the British TV series Queer As Folk (the forefather of the American version that graced Showtime), but long before a programme like QAF was even a possibility, Davies spent nearly 20 years toiling as a writer for the BBC and the UK's Granada TV. Now he's ready to answer some questions.
Note: Read the interview in the Independent
A hip, funny romance, full of attitude, the story concerns a trio of young, queer bed-hopping roommates. Director Q. Allan Brocka's shrewd adaptation of Matthew Rettenmund's 1996 book actually improves on the original source material, which is no mean feat. ...The engaging story is told by X (yummy Derek Magyar), who explains in the witty opening voice over that he's a hustler because, "I'm gay, and they made a movie about me." Such is the arch sense of humor that percolates in almost every scene. In fact, the voiceover works well throughout "Boy Culture" because X is, as he says, "confessing his sins."
Note: Read the entire review at Gay City News
In the United States, a shocking 30% of transgender people have been in incarcerated. Although the US Constitution forbids 'cruel and unusual' punishment for any crime, some argue that the placement of transgender women in male prisons represents this kind of punishment. ...Gay.com spoke with Reid Williams, whose award-winning documentary Cruel and Unusual chronicles the stories of five transgender prisoners and their often harrowing experiences. Read more...
A new Star Trek fan production will show a gay liaison between Captain Kirk's nephew and his Starfleet Lieutenant boyfriend, in a storyline written for 'The Next Generation', but never filmed. When David Gerrold left Star Trek: The Next Generation back in 1988, it was with a bit of a broken heart. He had penned an episode called "Blood and Fire" which dealt with an epidemic caused by a blood-borne pathogen that was an allegory for AIDS. The episode was to have featured the first openly gay couple in Star Trek history, something that Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry was said to fully support.
Note: Read full article on Gay NZ, related: New Voyages, Hidden Frontier
(Waterloo, Canada) - The Rainbow Reels Film Festival starts this Friday with an unusual movie about a pill that can turn gay people straight. The film, Hard Pill, examines what it means to be gay in a predominantly straight society - a theme that runs through the weekend-long queer film festival. Read more...
The forthcoming film 300, a man-flesh epic based on Frank Miller's graphic novel of the same name, depicts the bloody battle of Thermopylae, where 300 Spartans led by King Leonidas died fighting off a monstrously larger Persian invasion force commanded by the Great King, himself, Xerxes. There's no denying it was a glorious victory. But Miller's approach to history repeats the hoary old myth that it was a victory for freedom. "A new age has begun," says Leonidas (hunk Gerard Butler) in the film, "an age of freedom."
Note: Read full article on www.xtra.ca
Sometimes a movie deserves a second chance, and that’s certainly the case with the lesbian film “Puccini for Beginners,” which was one of the featured selections at last year’s Out on Film festival in Atlanta. The film is a little predictable in its plot and story, but it is propelled by a wonderful lead character suffering from the follies of relationships.
Note: Read full article on www.southernvoice.com
(Los Angeles, USA) - "An Inconvenient Truth'' won original song for Melissa Etheridge's "I Need to Wake Up.'' The openly gay Etheridge kissed her partner Tammy Lynn Michaels on the lips when her name was announced and onstage referred to Michaels as her wife. The couple held a commitment ceremony in 2003 and are the parents of twins. Read more...
(Berlin, Germany) - The organizers of Moscow Gay Pride wanted an “objective chronicle” of the first-ever Pride in Moscow last year. Director Vladimir Ivanov duly fulfilled the task set. Mockba Pride 06, Nikolai Alekseev, one of the Pride organizers, said last November that the film was an historic document for future generations. It then became part of the ‘evidence’ in a case now submitted to the European Court of Human Rights. And then came the invitation to screen the film at the Berlin Film Festival.
Note: Read full story on UK Gay News
Cynthia Wade’s nail-biting 38-minute documentary film Freeheld, chronicling New Jersey Police Lieutenant Laurel Hester’s struggle to transfer her pension to her domestic partner, Stacie Andree, was awarded a Special Jury Prize last night at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. The film is the only short documentary in this year’s festival to receive a Special Jury Prize, an award that recognizes unique vision and excellence in filmmaking.
Note: Read full article on UK Gay News
Movies set in what are now called “the red states” run the gamut in themes and storylines, but the effect of isolation, whether positive or negative, has a strong impact on the characters of this special branch of queer cinema. Here are a few films that present varying viewpoints about living outside the urban gay ghetto.
Note: Read full article on www.washblade.com
The "Seeds of Tolerance" contest features, among other documentaries, the "We Belong" by Joe Wilson. This is the story of two rural teens who had the courage to stand up to bigotry and intolerance in their schools – and the determination to tell their stories to the world. When C.J. Bills is gay bashed in the school locker room, then arrested for disorderly conduct because he protests to an administrator about the harassment he has experienced, he decides to fight back by making a documentary about discrimination. With his family’s help, he also initiates an investigation by the state human rights commission and shames the school district into developing an anti-bullying and diversity training program.
Note: A simple registration is required at Current.tv to vote (or even view the entries). The voting proceeds until December 2.
In the last half decade or so, mainstream cinema has seen a rise in gay- and lesbian-themed material: "Brokeback Mountain," "Transamerica," "The Hours" and "Far From Heaven." And gay and lesbian film festivals, such as Chicago's Reeling (the country's second oldest, which runs Nov. 2-12) helped pave the way for acceptance of those movies.
Note: Read full article on chicagotribune.com
Spain's Oscar-winning film-maker Pedro Almodovar is to resurrect his provocative early films celebrating the explosion of sexual freedom and excess in Madrid after the death of Franco in 1975. These pioneering fragments, never before shown publicly, include comic adventures with such titles as Two whores/Love story that ends in a wedding (1974), Sex comes, sex goes (1977) and The Fall of Sodom (1979).
Note: Read full article on independent.co.uk