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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 31, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 22
Movie Reviews
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
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SIFF marches on - SGN's guide to SIFF 2013 (pt. 3)
by Herb Krohn - SGN A&E Writer

SEATTLE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
Through June 9


The 39th Annual Seattle International Film continues this week providing a fantastic opportunity to view films from all over the world of all genres and subjects. Here are some to consider this week (for details consult the official SIFF Guide, available at Starbucks and many other places).

INEQUALITY FOR ALL
Rating: Outstanding
Genre: Documentary
USA
Sun., June 2, 6:30 p.m., Egyptian
Mon., June 3, 4:30 p.m., Egyptian

An in-depth analysis of how American economic policy has gradually evolved to the point today where the income disparity between the wealthy and everyone else has become greater than at any time in the modern era - and worse than in many Third World countries. Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich is the instructor in this economic history lesson, explained in a way that everyone can clearly see and understand what is occurring, and why it is so detrimental to our national interest and our future. This is arguably the most significant film of SIFF 2013 and a must-see for all Americans. Don't miss it.

JUMP
Rating: Excellent
Genre: Romantic/crime/action drama
Ireland
Sat., June 1, 9:30 p.m., Harvard Exit
Sun., June 2, 3:30 p.m., Harvard Exit
Wed., June 5, 8:45 p.m., Kirkland

An excellent film from Ireland set over the course of a New Year's Eve involving a local crime lord, his daughter, and the brother of one of his victims who is out for revenge. The techniques and plot demonstrate immense creativity and cinematographic expertise - it is fast-paced with a complex intertwined story and multi-directional time transitions that will hold your interest throughout.



The following have been identified as SIFF films of LGBT interest, but have not been screened for review:

BIG JOY: THE ADVENTURES OF JAMES BROUGHTON
USA
Fri., May 31, 6 p.m., SIFF Uptown
Sat., June 1, 1:30 p.m., Pacific Place

THE BLING RING
USA
Sun., June 9, 6:30 p.m., Cinerama
(Closing Night Gala: Party at MOHAI follows)

FREE FALL
Germany
Fri., June 7, 4 p.m., Egyptian
Sat., June 8, 9:30 p.m., Egyptian
Sun., June 9, 1:30 p.m., Egyptian

G.B.F.
USA
Wed., June 5, 7 p.m., Egyptian
(Gay-La: Party at Q Capitol Hill follows this screening)
Thurs., June 6, 4 p.m., Egyptian

IT'S ALL SO QUIET
Netherlands
Fri., May 31, 1 p.m., SIFF Uptown

KINK
USA
Sat., June 1, 9 p.m., Egyptian
Sun., June 2, 9:30 p.m., Egyptian

LAST I HEARD
USA
Sat., June 8, 6 p.m., SIFF Uptown
Sun., June 9, 2:30 p.m., SIFF Uptown

LUDWIG II
Germany/Austria
Fri., May 31, 9 p.m., SIFF Uptown
Sat., June 1, noon, Kirkland

TEST
USA
Fri., June 7, 7 p.m., Harvard Exit
Sun., June 9, 1:30 p.m., Harvard Exit

VALENTINE ROAD
USA
Sat., June 1, 2:30 p.m., SIFF Uptown
Sun., June 2, 6 p.m., Harvard Exit

Here are some notable films that have already screened at SIFF. Look for these in wider release or at your local video store.

BWAKAW
Rating: Very good
Genre: Aging
Philippines

One of the great aspects of SIFF is the opportunity to see films from all across this world and gaining insight into foreign cultures, especially how Gay culture is portrayed in other countries. This interesting entry not only deals with Gay life, it also delves into a subject matter rarely seen in Gay cinema - aging. The story is of Rene, a curmudgeonly retired post office clerk who still clings to his former job. He lives in a ramshackle home with his closest companion - Bwakaw, his dog. Everywhere he goes so does Bwakaw - to work, to visit friends, everywhere. Rene has few human friends and is preoccupied with preparing for his demise; he constantly updates his will. Most of his belongings are packed up in boxes labeled with the names of the recipient of his bequest. This film is an exploration of the day-to-day life of a grumpy, cynical, lonely Gay man who came out very late in life in Filipino culture. Bwakaw teaches Rene to begin living again and how precious life really is. It is a touching and poignant realistic portrayal of the subject matter. Look for this one again when it screens after SIFF.

C.O.G. Rating: Above average
Genre: Coming-of-age drama
USA

An arrogant, elitist young man from Connecticut travels to Oregon to spend the summer working in an apple orchard. He meets and becomes involved with a variety of eccentric characters and comes face-to-face with his personal demon. After things fall apart and he ends up without a home or job, he falls into the hands of a fanatically religious disabled veteran who teaches him how to work with jade; they make clocks in the shape of the state of Oregon and try to sell them at farmers' markets. Based on a story by David Sedaris, this confused and lost young man with an unclear family background is struggling to find his place in the work as well as to come to grips with his sexuality. It is an interesting film, yet much is unknown about the young man's background and history, so it is left to the audience's imagination to figure it out.

IN THE NAME OF
Rating: Good
Genre: Self-identity struggle drama
Poland

A priest struggling with his sexual orientation leads a rural parish with a ministry to troubled young men, many of whom have just come out of prison. Based on the recent scandals within the Catholic Church, this film is an interesting microcosmic portrayal that encircles the entire controversy. While there is no actual pedophilia here, the conflicted priest's internal conflicts affects the lives of the young men he is trying to help. One young man from the village has a particularly keen personal interest in and affinity for the priest. Soon, events overwhelm the 30-something priest and he begins drinking heavily to cope. As he spirals out of control, the temptation of the flesh of the handsome parishioner becomes difficult to resist. Others recognize something is not right so the priest is transferred to yet another parish, and when the young male discovers where the priest has been sent he leaves home to follow him. The ending is a complete surprise that no one in the audience will expect! This film, while slow-moving, the attention to exquisite detail is quite well-done. Absorbing and realistic with solid performances by the entire cast, it is a well-done Polish 2013 SIFF entry.

LAURENCE ANYWAYS Rating: Average
Genre: Gender-identity struggle drama
Canada (Quebec)

Laurence and Frederique (Fred) are a young alternative married couple in love in 1990s Quebec. Laurence is a schoolteacher who confesses to Fred that he is Trans and wants to transition. The story is about the on-again-off-again relationship between them and told with backward and forward time transitions that are not always clear. While there are some memorable moments in this film, it is overplayed and tedious and at 168 minutes, it is at least an hour too long. The performances are sound, and the self-absorption of the leading characters are completely realistic and conflicted within their lives and the circumstances they find themselves in. A confrontation scene in a dinner between Fred and the waitress is particularly memorable. It is an accurate portrayal of how controversial Transgender issues were in that time and place, and how society has slowly evolved in its perception of this subject.

PEACHES DOES HERSELF
Rating: Poor
Genre: Performance/music
Germany

A video and dance film featuring Peaches performing many of her songs. Gender-bending erotic costumes, nudity, and simulated sex are all part of this film. If you love Peaches this is a film not to miss, but if you are not a fan, you will find it tedious and difficult to sit through. While creative sets and good choreography highlight this film, it cannot overcome its lack of consistency.

TWO WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL
Rating: Excellent
Genre: Coming-out comedy
South Korea

This is another opportunity to view a portrayal of Gay and Lesbian life in a foreign culture - this time, South Korea, where much progress has yet to be made towards LGBT equality. So this film is a unique rare chance to see firsthand contemporary South Korean Gay cinema. This is a fascinating glimpse of solid, talented filmmaking in a society that is rapidly evolving. The plot involves a Gay man and Lesbian, both physicians, who marry each other to maintain a professional, socially acceptable appearance and conceal their sexual orientation. Being out still has significant negative ramifications in Korean society, and the Lesbian and her partner want to adopt a child, so a perceived heterosexual marriage would, presumably, make this possible. The story centers on the Gay doctor and his friendships with other Gay men as well as a romance. It is a cleverly done film that includes a couple of catchy song-and-dance numbers, while at the same time portraying with comedy and tragedy the difficulty experienced by LGBT South Koreans. The cinematography, especially the use of color, works well; it has a solid plot and good character development that, along with sound performances, make this a film we hope will be screened again soon. When it returns, don't miss it!

FATEFUL FINDINGS
Rating: Outstanding Bomb
Genre: Paranormal/horror/crime drama/romance/political conspiracy???
USA

Produced, directed, starring, edited, and catered by Neil Breen of Las Vegas, this mystical horror fantasy flick is best described as a homage to famed director Ed Wood. Although it is uncertain if this was the intent, it is the most hysterically funny film screened so far at SIFF 2013. The plot is elusive, the sets and props (e.g., battery chargers used as critical-care hospital equipment) are rock-bottom low budget, and the performances are, well, contrived and appallingly humorous. It all comes together to have the audience in stitches throughout the entire running time. Mysterious unexplained fogs come and go throughout, multiple laptops are dropped on the floor, books are repeatedly thrown across desks, characters eat spinach for no apparent reason, and we haven't even mentioned the bloody shower lovemaking scenes. Not to mention numerous blatant continuity flaws (it's late at night yet broad daylight shows behind the window blinds, hospital patients are hooked up to equipment that isn't turned on, etc.). While it is an open question if this film will ever be released or when, if ever, it will screen again, it deserves to be, as its comedic value is unparalleled. This movie rivals Wood's Plan 9 From Outer Space as possibly the worst film ever made. In other words, it's a must-see.

INTERIOR. LEATHER BAR.
Rating: Bomb
Genre: Experimental pseudo-documentary
USA

The creators of this film are supposedly trying to conceive of and recreate the 40 minutes of footage that was cut from the 1980 film Cruising to avoid an X rating. Done in pseudo-documentary style, the film consists of interviews with and conversations among the actors and directors, who themselves actually admit they really have no idea why they are making this film - neither will the audience! Again, it seems as though the director just wanted another opportunity to film naked men having sex for no artistic purpose other than to show that he could. The resulting film was boring and tedious - even the graphic sex scenes couldn't redeem this poorly executed waste of celluloid. Just when it appears modern Gay cinema is moving past the lowest common denominator someone comes along to again demonstrate that in many circles it has not. Don't waste your time or money on such juvenile, regressive tripe.

IN THEIR ROOM: LONDON
Rating: Bomb
Genre: Documentary
USA/UK

Eight Gay men, shot mostly in their bedrooms and bathrooms, are profiled as they wax on about their lives, thoughts, romances, and feelings. Mundane with absolutely no originality or creativeness (though with full-frontal aroused male nudity and masturbation), this garbage is an utter waste of time and devoid of purpose. The subjects - variously filmed in bed, while masturbating, conversing on cell phones (usually trying to hook up), playing on computers, bathing and scrubbing their faces, cutting their pubic hair on the toilet, urinating, and generally going about their personal bed-and-bathroom habits - were completely uninteresting. This mundane film harkens back to the bad old days when Gay cinema was simply an effort to provide the community with filmed representations of ourselves to fawn over - which is all that happens here. It is disappointing that we have yet to advance past the time of being so desperate to see useless, boring, and ordinary portrayals of ourselves in film with no meaning, purpose, or quality, just because someone with a camera and money had the opportunity to make movies with naked Gay men. Even more appalling, this film is the third of a series (In Their Room: Berlin and In Their Room: San Francisco are the first two), and if those are anything like this third installment they would be agonizing to have to sit and watch. Please spare us any more of this crap!


Curious creations: SGN's guide to SIFF 2013 (pt. 2)
by Herb Krohn SGN A&E Writer

SEATTLE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
VARIOUS LOCATIONS
Through June 9

The 39th annual Seattle International Film Festival continues this week, providing a fantastic opportuniuty to view films from all over the world of all genres and subjects. Here are some more upcoming features that were available for preview. (For detailed venue information, see the official SIFF Guide.)

FUREVER
Rating: Very Good
Genre: Documentary
USA
Sun., June 9, 6:30 p.m., Egyptian

A profile of the pet death-care industry and how we grieve for our beloved animals in America. This interesting documentary, which includes several apparent LGBT pet owners, says a lot about who we are as a people and the critical role that animals play in our lives. The film explores the history of this subject but focuses more contemporarily on the various options chosen by the subjects for handling their pets' remains. This is an interesting and heartfelt examination of a subject seldom discussed - and often harshly judged.

GEOGRAPHY CLUB
Rating: Very good
Genre: Coming-of-age
USA
Sat., May 25, 11 a.m., Harvard Exit

The plot involves the story of a high-school-aged young man who is struggling with his sexual identity, as are several of his schoolmates. The film begins with an attempt to hook up with another guy at a nearby park that doesn't quite pan out. This is a profile of the dilemma faced by nearly everyone growing up as a Gay or Lesbian kid in such a predicament - peer pressure, isolation, alienation, exploration of love, and the desire to be "normal" are all part of the internal conflict. The film is a fairly realistic portrayal of these issues by the performers; the screenplay is sound as are the characters. It has strong production values, a solid script, and a believable plot with just one glaring exception: the main characters' parents are completely invisible throughout. This is a solidly created film that demonstrates the skills and ability of the filmmakers. While there is nothing particularly groundbreaking in this picture, its modernistic approach redeems the forward evolution of quality Gay cinema.

OUT IN THE DARK
Rating: Very good
Genre: Romantic drama
Israel (mostly subtitled)
Sat., May 25, 9:30 p.m., Harvard Exit
Sun., May 26, 2 p.m., SIFF Uptown

Nimr is a closeted Palestinian psychology student who has been given permission to study at a university in Tel Aviv, while Roy is an out, young, up-and-coming Israeli attorney from a prominent family. Their paths cross one night at a Gay club and of course they fall in love. This is a tale of star-crossed lovers trying to overcome the obstacles of the border between their territories, rampant heterosexism, religious-based bigotry, and outright hatred and suspicion from their respective cultures. It is a dark tale filmed in very dark settings, so the title reflects both the plot and the cinematography. The film accurately portrays the near-insurmountable obstacles and serious risks facing same-sex couples whose love crosses political, religious, and ethnic lines. While there have been other recent films on this topic, this production is particularly engrossing in its style, technique, and plot. The tension as the suspense builds is palpable, making this an absorbing drama with strong, realistic performances.

INEQUALITY FOR ALL
Rating: Outstanding
Genre: Documentary
USA
Sun., June 2, 6:30 p.m., Egyptian
Mon., June 3, 4:30 p.m., Egyptian

An in-depth analysis of how American economic policy has gradually evolved to the point today where the income disparity between the wealthy and everyone else has become greater than at any time in the modern era - and worse than in many Third World countries. Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich is the instructor in this economic history lesson, explained in a way that everyone can clearly see and understand what is occurring, and why it is so detrimental to our national interest and our future. This is arguably the most significant film of SIFF 2013 and a must-see for all Americans. Don't miss it.

ANITA
Rating: Outstanding
Genre: Documentary
USA
Sat., May 25, 7 p.m., Harvard Exit
Sun., May 26, 3:30 p.m., Renton
Mon., May 27, 10 a.m., Egyptian

An outstanding and fascinating documentary profile of Anita Hill, who had the courage to speak truth to power during the 1991 Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Her immense courage to stand up and share her experience has changed forever how sexual harassment is dealt with in America. An amazing woman and a great film.

JUMP
Rating: Excellent
Genre: Romantic/crime/action drama
Ireland
Sat., June 1, 9:30 p.m., Harvard Exit
Sun., June 2, 3:30 p.m., Harvard Exit
Wed., June 5, 8:45 p.m., Kirkland

An excellent film from Ireland set over the course of a New Year's Eve involving a local crime lord, his daughter, and the brother of one of his victims who is out for revenge. The techniques and plot demonstrate immense creativity and cinematographic expertise - it is fast-paced with a complex intertwined story and multi-directional time transitions that will hold your interest throughout.

TERMS AND CONDITIONS MAY APPLY
Rating: Excellent
Genre: Documentary
USA
Thurs., May 30, 6:30 p.m., AMC Pacific Place
Fri., May 31, 3:30 p.m., SIFF Uptown

This critical film examines the privacy implications and the acceptance of terms we make on a routine basis when we agree to provisions on "free" websites. The privacy rights we are giving away to corporations and the government are astounding, yet even more shocking is how this information has been misused to encroach and violate the rights of citizens to freely express themselves. Among the examples given is a boy from the Tacoma area who was investigated by the Secret Service for a completely misinterpreted remark he posted. Some individuals have even been pre-emptively arrested before they even protested publicly. Who reads the pages and pages of fine print in these agreements we commonly consent to on the Internet? The filmmakers provide some of the details of typical "terms and conditions." Another "must-see" film, it will make you think twice before clicking "I Accept" next time you are online.

MORE FILMS OF LGBT INTEREST
(Refer to the official SIFF Guide for details)

BIG JOY: THE ADVENTURES OF JAMES BROUGHTON
USA
Fri., May 31, 6 p.m., SIFF Uptown
Sat., June 1, 1:30 p.m., Pacific Place

THE BLING RING
USA
Sun., June 9, 6:30 p.m., Cinerama
(Closing Night Gala: Party at MOHAI follows)

C.O.G.
USA
Sun., May 26, 7 p.m., Egyptian
Mon., May 27, 6 p.m., Renton

FREE FALL
Germany
Fri., June 7, 4 p.m., Egyptian
Sat., June 8, 9:30 p.m., Egyptian
Sun., June 9, 1:30 p.m., Egyptian

G.B.F.
Wed., June 5, 7 p.m., Egyptian
(Gay-La: Party at Q Capitol Hill follows this screening)
Thurs., June 6, 4 p.m., Egyptian

GAY BY ANY MEANS (SHORTS)
Sun., May 26, 6:30 p.m., SIFF Uptown
Program includes:
Burger
It's Not a Cowboy Movie
Spooners
Taboule
The Naturalist
Win or Lose
Y2Gay

IN THE NAME OF
Poland
Fri., May 24, 4:30 p.m., Harvard Exit

IT'S ALL SO QUIET
Netherlands
Thurs., May 30, 9:30 p.m., SIFF Uptown
Fri., May 31, 1 p.m., SIFF Uptown

KINK
USA
Sat., June 1, 9 p.m., Egyptian
Sun., June 2, 9:30 p.m., Egyptian

LAST I HEARD
USA
Sat., June 8, 6 p.m., SIFF Uptown
Sun., June 9, 2:30 p.m., SIFF Uptown

LAURENCE ANYWAYS
Canada (Quebec)
Fri., May 24, 8:30 p.m., Egyptian
Sun., May 26, 1 p.m., Egyptian

LUDWIG II
Germany/Austria
Thurs., May 30, 9 p.m., SIFF Uptown
Fri., May 31, 9 p.m., SIFF Uptown
Sat., June 1, noon, Kirkland

PEACHES DOES HERSELF
Germany
Sat., May 25, 9:30 p.m., Egyptian
Mon., May 27, 9 p.m., Egyptian

SING ME THE SONGS THAT SAY I LOVE YOU: A CONCERT FOR KATE McGARRIGLE
USA
Sat., May 25, 4:30 p.m., Egyptian
Sun., May 27, 6 p.m., SIFF Uptown

TEST
USA
Fri., June 7, 7 p.m., Harvard Exit
Sun., June 9, 1:30 p.m., Harvard Exit

TWO WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL
South Korea
Mon., May 27, 1 p.m., Renton
Tues., May 28, 4:30 p.m., Pacific Place
Wed., May 29, 9:30 p.m., Harvard Exit

VALENTINE ROAD
USA
Sat., June 1, 2:30 p.m., SIFF Uptown
Sun., June 2, 6 p.m., Harvard Exit



Deft Maisie a heartfelt celebration
by Sara Michelle Fetters - SGN A&E Writer

WHAT MAISIE KNEW
Now showing


For six-year-old Maisie (Onata Aprile), staying a kid is proving to be an incredibly difficult proposition. Her aging rock-star mother, Susanna (Julianne Moore), and art-dealer father, Beale (Steve Coogan), are going through a nasty divorce, trying not to put their little girl smack-dab in the middle of things but failing in their efforts at every turn.

Time passes. Maisie goes to school, bouncing between her two parents not quite understanding what is going on yet still knowing not everything is as it should be. When her loving nanny, Margo (Joanna Vanderham), suddenly marries Beale seemingly out of the blue, Susanna looks to get back at him by entering into nuptials with sexy groupie Lincoln (Alexander Skarsgård), an aspiring chef moonlighting as a bartender. But while her parents continue to bicker, fight, and take their little one for granted, Maisie grows increasingly closer to both Margo and Lincoln, each a loving parental figure she quickly learns she can count on and trust to do what's best for her.

A modern-day adaptation of the Henry James novel, What Maisie Knew is an emotionally charged, delicately authentic knockout of a child learning to circumnavigate an adult world maintaining her wide-eyed exuberance about life and its potentials in the process. Directed by Scott McGehee and David Siegel (The Deep End), with a screenplay by Nancy Doyne and Carroll Cartwright, the movie is deft reimagining that maintains its intimate point-of-view from start to finish with little to no effort. Seen entirely through the eyes of its kindergarten-aged heroine, the inherent dramatics of the piece come through with magnificent eloquence, everything building to a stupendous final scene that brings elegantly authentic tears to my eyes just now as I think about it again.

NO PAT ANSWERS
I loved how stripped-down how everything feels, how McGehee and Siegel go out of their way to make sure the audience can decide for themselves who these people are - what makes them tick and how they are going to react to Maisie's pint-sized needs. The film traverses a number of grey areas with courage and conviction, going out of its way to not transform some characters into saints while devolving others into one-dimensional monsters. Instead, all four of the adults make choices - some good, some obviously not - and how everyone deals with the fallout and what Maisie learns in the process are the core facets around which everything turns.

This isn't anywhere near as easy as it might on some level sound. Both Susanna and Beale are being selfish, looking out for their own interests above those of their daughter's. Margo should know better, the young twenty-something nanny falling into one of New York's most tired and overused clichés when she decides to marry the father of her tiny charge. Lincoln leaps without considering the consequences, so star-struck he doesn't consider that by wedding the object of his most fevered rock-star fantasies he's going to instantly become a father in the process.

Yet the writing doesn't allow for shortcuts, all of the adults showcasing layers and shadings necessary for the drama to succeed. Additionally, the performances are outstanding, Moore, Coogan, Skarsgård and relative newcomer Vanderham all rising to the occasion. The level of understanding on display, the amount of restraint showcased by all involved - everything comes together in extraordinary fashion, allowing the emotions at the core of the narrative to speak for itself clearly and persuasively.

MINIMALIST APPROACH
It can get a little too ephemeral, the directors stripping down Doyne and Cartwright's script so much that some of the transitions aren't as clear as they maybe need to be. Time passes almost haphazardly, and figuring out just how much of it has transpired isn't always easy. And, as nicely shaded and as fairly treated all four adults might be, Coogan's Beale is given a bit shorter a shrift than the others, the nondescript way he handles some of the third-act moments not sitting as well with me as they potentially could have.

But these feel like minor problems, especially considering the sterling depths the majority of the movie manages to traverse with such sure-footed confidence. Anchoring it is little Aprile, delivering a delicate and complex performance that caught me off guard. The way she deals with events as they happen is captivating, all of it building to a penultimate moment with Moore that had me drowning in overjoyed tears. It's somewhat revelatory, and while the assistance of her extremely talented co-stars is both necessary and obvious the fact she manages to take on so much of the heavy lifting upon her own miniscule shoulders still speaks volumes.

TRUE TO THE NOVEL
I wasn't familiar with James's source material before seeing the movie, but I did make myself so afterward (it's a quick read) and as a lot of the prose doesn't remain inside the adaptation, familiarity with it isn't exactly necessary. The writers have a done a grand job of staying true to its themes, making sure everything the author was talking about takes shape. It's a superb reworking, and by and large I couldn't be happier with it.

For McGehee and Siegel, What Maisie Knew is an undeniable triumph. I've always been rather hit-and-miss with the directors, enjoying films like Suture and The Deep End while being more than underwhelmed, to the point of borderline disgust, by other efforts like Bee Season. With this movie, with this celebration of life, the duo take their talents to an entirely new level, their honing of the material and shaping of its story so precise and on point I couldn't help but be impressed. More than that, though, is that they've also managed to craft a motion picture that speaks to the heart and elevates the soul, doing so with an effortless candor that captured me whole. I loved it, nearly every second, and no more on my part needs to be said.


Big Joy lights up screens - and hearts
BIG JOY: THE ADVENTURES OF JAMES BROUGHTON SEATTLE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL May 31 - June 1 Experimental filmmaker and poet James Broughton - whose 1967 classic film The Bed raised eyebrows with its liberal use of joyous nudity - is revived as a cultural icon in a compelling new documentary feature, Big Joy: The Adventures of James Broughton, which makes its Washington state premiere at this year's Seattle International Film Festival.

The film premiered at the South by Southwest festival in Austin in March, then went to the Hong Kong International Film Festival. It won the grand jury prize for best documentary feature at the Florida Film Festival in Orlando and screened to enthusiastic audiences at New York's Tribeca Film Festival, Vancouver's DOXA Documentary Film Festival, and Portland's Queer Documentary Film Fest.

Stephen Silha shared a cabin at a Radical Faerie gathering at Breitenbush Hot Springs with Broughton and his soulmate, Joel Singer, in 1989. They became friends, Broughton became a mentor, and he and Broughton took writing retreats together.

Broughton, who moved with Singer to Port Townsend when they could no longer afford to live in the San Francisco Bay Area, was a pioneer experimental filmmaker and joyous Queer poet who journaled over 72 years from age 13 until he died in 1999.

A WISE TEACHER
'Follow your own weird' was his advice to young artists who attended his classes at San Francisco State University and San Francisco Art Institute. 'Don't make the film anyone else can make,' said Broughton. 'It will bore you and your audience. Make the film only you can make.'

Silha considered writing a biography of Broughton, but decided 'it had to be a film. Broughton made 23 wildly different experimental films, and his largely forgotten work remains so relevant to the 21st century.'

So he called on fellow Radical Faerie Eric Slade, who had made a 2001 documentary about Gay rights pioneer Harry Hay, called Hope Along the Wind. The two found creative collaborators in producer Max St. Romain (who lived in Seattle as Javier Bryan Sanchez for 10 years), musicians Jami Sieber and Evan Schiller, San Francisco editors Bill Weber (The Cockettes and We Were Here) and Dawn Logsdon (Paragraph 175, The Weather Underground, and Faubourg Tremé), B.C.-based animator Michael Mann, and cinematographer/producer Ian Hinkle.

The result: a film celebrated by the Village Voice as 'not to miss' and by Variety as 'a great documentary.' Said Edge Magazine: 'Big Joy does its subject justice by eliciting the pure joy that unfettered artistic creation and sexuality can be at their best. Stephen Silha and Eric Slade's portrait of an artist joins the ranks of top-notch documentaries about pivotal artists that were around for the sexual revolution.'

TELLING HIS OWN STORY
Broughton's story navigates his own struggle with his sexuality, the family and societal pressures he felt as a result of it, and his journey with personal artistic expressions. His life transverses the Great Depression, the McCarthy era, the beat movement, the hippie movement, and Gay liberation. 'We didn't want it to be another talking-heads documentary,' Silha said, 'so we tried to use James himself as the primary narrator.'

Big Joy features clips from a number of Broughton films, as well as animations of his poems and personal musings from his journals.

The film's SIFF screenings will be blessed by members of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, of which Broughton was a member (he was Sister Sermonetta of the Holy Phallus). Co-directors Silha and Slade will be present to answer questions.

'We want to start a Big Joy movement,' Silha said, 'of people following their weird, holding salons, writing poetry and making films for each other.' Because November 10, 2013, would be Broughton's 100th birthday, centennial celebrations, retrospectives, and events are being encouraged and planned worldwide.

Big Joy screens as part of SIFF on Friday, May 31, 6 p.m., at SIFF Cinema Uptown, and on Saturday, June 1, 1:30 p.m., at AMC Pacific Place.


Through a child's eyes - An interview with What Maisie Knew co-directors Scott McGehee and David Siegel
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A 'heist' to remember - Macklemore and his crew steal the show at Sasquatch
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Can't stop the Afrobeat - Fela! invites you to worship at the Shrine of Music
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Sign of the times - Zooman is highly relevant to our current debate over guns
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Jazz Alley goes Bluegrass - (Relax, jazzbos - it's just for one night)
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Don't wig out!
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Unimaginative Now You See Me lacks magic
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SIFF marches on - SGN's guide to SIFF 2013 (pt. 3)
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Curious creations: SGN's guide to SIFF 2013 (pt. 2)
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Deft Maisie a heartfelt celebration
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Big Joy lights up screens - and hearts
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