Thursday, July 18, 2013

Chinese Moms Talk About Their Queer Offspring in New Documentary

To listen to the KUCI Subversity Online podcast of our interview, recorded earlier today, with director Fan Popo,  click on:

Queer activists the world over will find this new documentary about coming out refreshingly different.  Instead of the typical coming out story from a gay or lesbian teenager or adult, Fan Popo's latest film, "Mama Rainbow," focuses rather on mothers of gay males or lesbians - and how they have become advocates for their offspring.

A lesbian and a mother from "Mama Rainbow"
Fan, young (born in 1985) and creative, is a product of Beijing Film Academy.  Working with the local activist group PFLAG China and the Queer Comrades webcast collective, the director has crafted a gender-balanced (in terms of offspring) movie that traipses across urban China in the quest of outspoken moms who have become active in the queer community in support of their children.  One of the more touching scenes is when a mother reveals to her son that in fact, she had already figured it all out months before her son told her, but she dared not ask her son if he is gay. 

In our Subversity Online interview, Fan concedes that the film features rather well-off families and mothers rather than fathers - although he reveals that some fathers (willing to be interviewed) were located after the film project was finished.

Fan at Outfest.  Photo copyright Daniel C. Tsang 2013
Developed from a shorter version posted online on the Queer Comrades video site, Fan suggests in the interview that half a dozen is the appropriate number of mothers to include.  His film may make viewers rethink what "family" means in a fast-modernizing China as well as moderating one's conception of "Tiger Moms".  Funding came from the partner groups, including those partially supported by the Ford Foundation.  The 2012 film is now on the festival circuit against a backdrop of growing efforts to combat homophobia in China.
Fan (right) is an award-winning documentary filmmaker whose latest film has been shown in China and at film festivals in Bombay, San Francisco (Frameline) and now at Outfest in Los Angeles.  The documentary screens Saturday, 20 July, 2013, at 2 p.m. at the downtown venue, Redcat at Disney Concert Hall, 631 W. 2nd St., Los Angeles, 90012.  For the entire festival lineup, see the Outfest LA program guide. See also ticket information. - Daniel C. Tsang.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

"Gore Vidal": Speaking Truth to Power

To listen to the KUCI Subversity Online podcast of our interview, recorded yesterday, with director Nicholas Wrathall,  click on:

The American literary icon, Gore Vidal, is portrayed magnificently in a new documentary by Australian Nicholas Wrathall, "Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia," screening this Saturday at Outfest Los Angeles.

Using archival footage as well as later footage he shot in Italy and Los Angeles, Wrathall, a noted documentary filmmaker (he co-directed "Abandoned" - an award-winning film on the consequences of the 1996 immigration law that led to the incarceration of many permanent residents) - manages to trace Vidal as a child of privilege through his first homosexual novel ("The City and the Pillar") to his outspoken criticism of the imperial empire that his country had turned into.   There is a revealing image of Vidal watching the presidential returns in Obama's first race and looking skeptical that Obama would be able to withstand corporate pressure.

Vidal: a literary icon
Captured on film is  Mikhail Gorbachev, in post-Glasnost days, palling around with Vidal, obvious admirers of each other.  There is also Christopher Hitchens - in a priceless scene - being ignored by Vidal as Hitchens tries to speak to Vidal - who first admired Hitchens but became disgusted with his siding with neocons (as journalist Robert Scheer notes in the film) over the Iraq War.   And of course, there is television footage from that bitchy confrontation with William F. Buckley when the National Review editor called Vidal a "faggot."

 We talk with director Wrathall (left) about why he made his film and his trips with Vidal, on Subversity Online.  We also discuss Vidal's long-term relationship with Howard Austen - and discuss whether this was a sexual relationship or platonic friendship.  The interviewer was Daniel C. Tsang, show host.

The film screens this Saturday at Outfest Los Angeles, DGA1 at 11A.M. For the entire lineup, see the Outfest LA program guide. See also ticket information. - Daniel C. Tsang.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Pansexualist Poet James Broughton Brought to Life on Screen

  To listen to the KUCI Subversity Online podcast of our interview, recorded yesterday at Outfest, with director Stephen Silha,  click on:

A pensive James Broughton
A captivating documentary, "Big Joy", screening at Outfest Los Angeles, captures the pansexuality and poetic and cinematic genius of James Broughton, whose involvement in the San Francisco Renaissance predated the period of the Beats.

Stephen Silha at Outfest.  Photo copyright  Daniel C. Tsang 2013
Stephen Silha and his team of directors brings to the screen "Big Joy: The Adventures of James Broughton" and indeed viewers will be able to catch images and sound of Broughton from his marriage to film critic Pauline Kael (who bore him an offspring) to his later entanglements with men and women.  Eric Slade, another co-director, earlier made "Hope Along the Wind,” on the life of gay pioneer Harry Hay.

Subversity Online interviews co-director Stephen Silha, a first-time filmmaker, on the life and impact of the affectionate and fairy-like poet, who continued writing into the end of his life in his eighties.   In his senior years, Broughton is also engaged in a long relationship with another, younger man.  Silha discusses in the interview why he made this film and their use of archival footage, as well as where the Broughton archives are located.

As the Outfest program notes indicate: "His [Broughton's] reverence for unbridled joy through childlike creativity and silliness put him perfectly in tune with the flowering of free-spirited experimentation in the 1960s, of which his film THE BED (1968) is a cultural milestone."

Old and Younger Connect

"Big Joy" screens Monday 15 July at 5 pm at Directors Guild of America, DGA2.

For the entire lineup, see the Outfest LA program guide. See also ticket information. - Daniel C. Tsang.

A Gay Palestinian-Israeli Love Story on Screen

 To listen to the KUCI Subversity Online podcast of our interview, recorded yesterday at Outfest, with director Michael Mayer, click on: .

In the best of times, committed relationships across geographic and political boundaries are daunting and hard to make them lasting. Israel-born director Michael Mayer has made a daring gay love story, "Out in the Dark," involving a Palestinian Birzeit University psych student, Nimr (played by Nicholas Jacob), and attorney Roy (played by noted Israeli actor Michael Aloni).  The film is screening at Outfest Los Angeles 2013.

Michael Aloni (left) and Nicholas Jacob (right) in scene from"Out in the Dark"
Mayer, who also co-wrote the screenplay, tells Subversity Online that the impetus for the film came from his finding out there is a community of gay Palestinians living in Tel Aviv and human rights lawyers helping them. The story is inspired by actual cases.  Mayer suggests that advances in gay rights "never came from the top down" but rather from the struggle of activists.  Gay online groups now serve to link gay and lesbian Palestinians together.  He notes that the security services have for decades been targeting gay Palestinians serve as  potential informants. 

When the state apparatus begins active surveillance of Nimr - who is not out to his family back in Ramallah on the West Bank - his lover Roy, with his underground and above ground connections, helps figure out a way out of this tense situation.

Michael Mayer at Outfest.  Photo copyright Daniel C. Tsang 2013
Both actors, whom Mayer tells Subversity Online are straight, manage to act convincingly as passionate, dashingly handsome, gay lovers even as the state security services lurk in the dark monitoring their politically taboo relationship.

Mayer is to be applauded for making a film where a gay Palestinian is realistically portrayed.  His film points to the contradictions in a state which proclaims its liberalness on gay issues, but ignores its continued repression of the Palestinians oppressed by the Occupation it imposes on them. 

The film screens at Outfest  tonight and next Sunday at the Directors Guild of America -- July 14 at 7:00pm at DGA 1, and July 21, 2:45pm at  DGA 2.

For the entire lineup, see the Outfest LA program guide. See also ticket information. - Daniel C. Tsang.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

"Facing Fear" and Forgiveness

To listen to the KUCI Subversity Online podcast of our interview with director Jason Cohen, click on: .
Irvine - One of the hardest things to do in life is to forgive hateful acts, especially perpetrated by someone on yourself.  Documentary filmmaker Jason Cohen's "Facing Fear", featured at this year's Outfest Los Angeles, offers convincing evidence that reconciliation and forgiveness are still options even for a gay-bashing victim and his neoNazi perpetrator.  On Subversity Online, host Daniel C. Tsang talked today with Cohen about his film and they explored the issues of forgiveness and hatred.

Jason Cohen (left) with Matthew Boger at the Museum of Tolerance.
Cohen's powerful short (23-minute) film tells the story of the accidental encounter, 25 years after a vicious beating on the streets of West Hollywood, of Matthew Boger and Tim Zaal, who meet again at the Museum of Tolerance, and the path to reconciliation and indeed trust, among the two.

Boger, who was 13 when beaten badly by Zaal, then 17, and a neoNazi punk rocker prowling the streets to beat up the vulnerable who later regretted his violent past, manage to find a way to understand each other.  From teen hustler surviving on the streets after being kicked out of his home by his religious mom, Boger offers hope to those bullied for being different.   Indeed the film is ultimately about hope for a future for both these men and for humanity in general, that hatred and division can be overcome and opposing sides can eventually reach some reconciliation.

The film is shown at Outfest Los Angeles this coming weekend.  It screens as part of a shorts program on Queerer than Fiction (including one portraying Star Trek's George Takei and his partner Brad) at the Directors Guild of America, Saturday, July 13, 2013  at 11:30am and Sunday  July 14, 2013 at 9:30pm.   For the entire lineup, see the Outfest LA program guide. See also ticket information. - Daniel C. Tsang.