14th Oxford Film Festival: LGBTQ preview
I wanted to take a quick break from Oscar (don't worry, as soon as I hit publish I will be back to work) and talk to you a little about the 14th Oxford Film Festival.
I dipped my toe into the festival last year, attending a couple of workshops as well as seeing the incredible Amy Berg documentary "An Open Secret" as well as the closing night film, but as with almost every festival I've attended over the years, I hoped to do better: more parties, more films, more networking. More, more more.
A few months after the festival, Mississippi legislators passed HB 1523, a discrimination law disguised as a religious freedom act. It was devastating to not only the LGBTQ community but our allies. I can't speak for other cities in Mississippi, but Oxford is not that place. Almost immediately, Melanie Addington, my friend and the executive director of the festival spoke out on FB saying that OXFF would be adding an LGBTQ section to the festival. I thought that was great but spontaneous. But Melanie is a woman of ideas, passion, drive and most importantly action. Shortly after that I was asked to be part of the selection committee, which I had done back in NYC for NewFest for shorts programming. Shortly after beginning the process, the Head Programmer backed out and I stepped up. To say this was an honor is an understatement.
I watched (I believe) over 70 submissions, spoke to filmmakers about what I was looking for, not even knowing what that was. I wanted to cover all the facets of our community to the best of my ability. I'm not just talking about all the letters, but also comedy, documentary, drama, coming of age, etc. The LGBTQ community is vast in its depth with many stories to tell.
In the end, I picked 3.5 features ("Horizon" is just under an hour) and 10 shorts hoping to get half of them in. There were things that were left out including a short from a dear friend of mine and work that was quite daring/experimental. And Melanie, gave me all of them. And beginning tomorrow I get to give them to you.
In a bit of a role reversal I was interviewed by a few outlets yesterday to discuss the importance of this section, and it is so hard to put into words. The importance of seeing myself on screen was so vital to accepting myself as I was growing up. And still is. I am a sexual being. A comedian. A friend. A spiritual person. A health nut. A chocolate lover. An actor. A writer. A yoga lover. I am so many things. I'm not just the "gay best friend." There is more to us than the sidekick you might see on television.
And, while I love that the output of LGBTQ has grown, I held my choices up to the standards of any film. The acting had to be good. The direction. The writing. I was not going to choose a film because it had a hot piece of ass with 8 pack abs on the poster. Although there is plenty to look at in "The Happys" and "Horizon," trust me.
Check out the schedule below! I highly suggest everyone come out to see the LGBTQ shorts block. Every film might not be for you, but you should love them nonetheless.
Friday, February 17th
11:00AM, Malco Commons
Woman on Fire
Woman on Fire is a character-driven documentary that follows Brooke Guinan, the first openly transgender firefighter in New York City.
3:30PM, Malco Commons
When a young man suffering from anorexia is pressured to eat breakfast by his boyfriend, the couple are thrust into an otherworld where their anxieites and frustrations are made horrifyingly real.
A young man returns from war after the death of his father to discover more has changed than he anticipated.
Friday the 14th
When a closeted nerd shows up to a psychotic girl's Valentine's Day party, he's trapped as the only guest for a night full of heart attacks.
My Big Fat Lesbian Bat Mitzvah
Fifty-eight year old Judy is having a bat mitzvah at her LGBT Jewish temple as a way to come out to her orthodox Jewish father, Joshua.
SWIRL is the story of a boy's first crush told through dance, exploring the journey your mind takes the first time you touch someone you love.
The Yoga Bridge
Two friends - one white, one First Nations - fight over Vancouver's failed attempt to close a major bridge for citizens to do yoga on National Aboriginal Day.
You Deserve Everything
A doctor's tentative romance with the hospital's Arabic interpreter is evolving into something deeper. But everything is not as it seems.
Saturday, February 18th
12:00PM, Malco Commons
How Love Won: The Fight for Marriage Equality (with Chance)
A brilliant and emotionally powerful documentary about the moment that changed everything in the battle for same-sex marriage. Go behind the scenes and discover the secret psychological weapon Minnesota LGBT activists deployed in this ‘unwinnable’ campaign that had failed in 30 other states.
Trailer: How Love Won: The Fight for Marriage Equality in Minnesota from The UpTake on Vimeo.
Trevor's life has become a void following the passing of his wife and long term companion, Doris. A chance encounter in the park with a mysterious stranger equally troubled by his own dark past jarringly reawakens him, and forces both men to once again start to live.
2:30PM, Malco Commons
The Happys (with A Doll's Eyes)
Twenty-one year old Tracy walks in on her newly minted 'movie star' boyfriend having sex with a man. After assessing her limited options, she returns to Mark with a deal if he agrees to marry her, she’ll forget the whole thing ever happened. The cast includes Janeane Garofalo and The Walking Dead's Melissa McBride, with an original score by Patrick Sansone (Wilco).
A Doll's Eyes
Haunted by the movie Jaws since childhood, a filmmaker discovers why the movie affected him so deeply.
Horizon (with All Are Welcome Here)
Queer as Folk meets Sydney’s Oxford Street in an explosion of color and drama. In life, love and sex, what we crave is often at odds with who we are.
All Are Welcome Here
A short documentary on the Mississippi Coast's reaction to House Bill 1523 approved by Governor Bryant that gives people the right to discriminate against LGBTQ people based on their religious beliefs.
Sunday, February 19th
LGBTQ Winner, Malco Commons