Monday, February 5, 2018

Previewing the LGBTQ films at Oxford Film Festival, post DGA BP standings, etc. etc. etc.

Happy Monday Oscarwatchers. One thing you won't be getting here today is any sort of discussion about the Super Bowl or the surprise release of a new "Cloverfield" movie followed by excitement and subsequent Film Twitter evisceration.

Instead, it's time to bring you a bit up to speed on what I've been doing over the weekend and what lies ahead in the next few days.

Tomorrow begins the Awards Wiz "27 Days of Oscar" series, where we count down the days leading up to the big day, March 4th, look at all the nominated categories, as well as predict what the heck might actually happen on Oscar night.

It's going to be a bit different than usual. For one thing I don't have quite as many Oscar nominated films to watch this year. I do, however, have several films I hope to view nominated for Independent Spirit Awards. This week is going to be full of challenges.

Tonight I plan to revisit "The Square" and prepare for the three back to back interviews I have tomorrow. First is "The Insult" director Ziad Doueiri, then "The Square" director Ruben Ostlund and finally "Call Me By Your Name" actor Timothee Chalamet.  I had hoped to schedule more interviews, but honestly, I'm not sure I would even have time if they were actually presented to me.

In addition to these interviews and writing for "27 Days of Oscar" and prepping for my three Awards Daily pieces, the Oxford Film Festival begins on Wednesday.

Wednesday is Community Night...I have a teeny tiny part in "Fifteen," directed by Melanie Addington and will also be acting in the readings of 2 screenplay competition winners.

I also had the immense pleasure of programming the LGBTQ section of the fest, which includes "Between the Shades," directed by Jill Salvino, "Boys For Sale," directed by Itako and "Alaska is a Drag" written and directed by Shaz Bennett. There is also a great selection of shorts. Descriptions and trailers are below.

If you are in the Oxford area, please take advantage of the discount code, "OutOxford" for discounted tickets. $6! Let's fill the theater and show Oxford and Mississippi that we're here, we're queer, we' know what I'm saying....

In the world of Oscar, the DGA happened, and 2 days late to the discussion game there isn't much to say. Other than this. "The Shape of Water" was the original frontrunner, at least according to me and this site. "The Shape of Water" had no SAG ensemble nomination. It won the Critics Choice and the PGA and Guillermo del Toro won Best Director at the DGA. The exact same thing happened last year with "La La Land." The only difference is that it did not win the Golden Globe. It lost to "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri."

So, what does this mean? I could very well predict a potential sweep for "The Shape of Water," just as I did last year with "La La Land." Will the new members make a difference in destroying the SAG stat? Possibly.

Neither "The Revenant," "Gravity" or "La La Land" had a SAG ensemble nomination and none won best picture. Without a SAG ensemble nod, BP doesn't happen.

Out here in MS, "The Shape of Water" is divisive. It just is. I actually haven't talked to anyone who was completely over the moon about it. That is the opposite of what I'm hearing about "Lady Bird." Everyone likes "Lady Bird." It just missed my Top 20, so I'm clearly in the minority.

Is it the same way in Los Angeles? "Lady Bird" hasn't really won much at all other than the Golden Globe, same with "Get Out" which has won even less. So what does this all mean? It means we keep watching.

I've watched a few movies over the past few days as well. "Miss Stevens" starring Lily Rabe, Timothee Chalamet, Lili Reinhart and Anthony Quintal, written by Jordan Horowitz ("La La Land" producer) and Julia Hart, who also directed the film. It is an incredible delight and Timothee is as good if not better in this than he is in "Call Me By Your Name."  It's on Netflix, so check it out as well.

I also continued through the Best First Feature category for the Spirit Awards. I wanted "Menache" and started "The Killing of a Sacred Deer." I will finish it. Life got in the way. Tomorrow we'll look at my current movie watching playlist for the next 27 days and keep on moving!!

Check out the info on the LGBTQ films at Oxford Film Festival here:

Between the Shades

Sat, Feb 10, 2018 8:00 PM
Sun, Feb 11, 2018 5:00 PM

Between the Shades seeks to put faces to the letters that make up LGBTQI and how those letters have evolved. The film examines the immense power of labels and the transcendence of love. Director Jill Salvino invited fifty people, each with a connection to the LGBTQI community to begin a conversation by sharing their stories for this film that Premiered at The Soho Film Festival and became an audience favorite and finalist for best documentary. Between the Shades features many voices, among them: Beth Malone (of Broadway’s Fun Home), actress Kathy Najimy and Democratic National Committee Treasurer Andrew Tobias. No film can ever capture the immense diversity of the LGBTQI community, but it didn’t stop us from trying. At the end of the day, everyone just wants to be loved.

Between the Shades - Final Trailer for 2017 SoHo FF from Jill Salvino on Vimeo.

Boys for Sale
Fri, Feb 9, 2018 1:00 PM
Sat, Feb 10, 2018 12:45 PM

Boys are selling sex in Japan. Who is buying?
In the Tokyo district of Shinjuku 2-chome there are bars that specialize in “Urisen”, young guys who have sex with men. Featuring candid interviews and interspersed with animation detailing the awkward, sweet, and sometimes horrific situations these young sex workers experience, the boys for sale boldly tell their stories of life in the Tokyo underground. This documentary is an illuminating look into a rarely seen world that tantalizingly shows the humanity of sex work.

Sununu: The Revolution of Live (playing with Boys for Sale)

Transgender Dad, Fernando Machado, became an international news sensation when he announced he was pregnant with his trans girlfriend Diane Rodriguez in Ecuador - this is the love story of that family. Directed by Olivia Crellin

Alaska is a Drag
Fri, Feb 9, 2018 4:15 PM
Sat, Feb 10, 2018 5:45 PM

ALASKA IS A DRAG is a Fish out of water story – literally. Our hero Leo is an aspiring superstar (Martin L. Washington Jr.) stuck working in a fish cannery in Alaska. Leo sees disco balls in the scales of the fish he slices. Everyone who slices fish all day, daydreams – Leo’s are glamtastic. 
Most of the time, Leo and his twin sister Tristen (Maya Washington) are left to fend for themselves. To escape the monotony of fist fights and fish guts, they create their own magic – the Northern Lights follow them.
They hang out at the one gay bar in a hundred miles, owned by their surly surrogate mom – Jan (Margaret Cho). Their real mom (Nia Peeples) left years ago and their dad George (Kevin Daniels) preaches on the side of the road. 

After years of getting beat up by his former best friend, Kyle (Christopher O'Shea), Leo has learned to fight back – his skills catch the eye of his cannery boss, an amateur boxer (Jason Scott Lee) who offers to train him to be a fighter. And when the new kid in town, Declan (Matt Dallas), wants to be his sparring partner – Leo’s world turns upside down.
When Tristen enters Leo in a drag competition – he's never performed for anyone but her – his worlds collide – the drag audition falls on the same day as the qualifying round for boxing and Leo has to face the real reason, he's afraid to leave Alaska.


Fishy is a short animated film about a man stranded in the middle of the ocean who is saved in more ways than one by a mystical sea creature. This animation brings attention to the complicated process a parent goes through while accepting that their child may not fit into the dreams their parents once held for them. Directed by Joseph Sulsenti.

Lady Eva

An intrepid young transgender woman in the South Pacific Kingdom of Tonga sets off to become her true self - with a little help from Tina Turner along the way. Directed by Dean Hamer, Joe Wilson & Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu.

LGBTQ Shorts 
Friday, February 9th 6:45PM

The Cleanse (OFF Alum)
Director: Lucas Omar

The Queer Clique loves fresh meat. Newbie Kayden must complete the sacred initiation: The Cleanse. No food. No sex. Just juice. Let the cravings begin. Regional Premiere

Dusk (OFF Alum)
Director: Jake Graf

Growing up in 1950s England in an intolerant and uninformed world, young Chris Winters struggles to fit into the gender roles dictated by wider society. Mississippi Premiere

Haygood Eats!

Director: Hazart

Tim & Joy Haygood are the reigning almost "celebrities" of their small southern town. In a series of leaked outtakes from Magic City Productions, the curtain is lifted on the disastrous attempt at a commercial from Joy & Tim Haygood's catering company. Mississippi Premiere.

How to Make a Pearl

Director: Jason Hanasik

For the last ten years, John Kapellas has lived in complete darkness. Allergic to the entire spectrum of light, Kapellas' doctors have tried a myriad of drugs to give him more time in the light. When one of the drugs' side effects made him “go nuts,” Kapellas found a creative way to calm his mind. Regional Premiere

Director: Aharonit Elior

A girl finds someone to spark her flame. World Premiere

Sununú: The Revolution of Love
Director: Olivia Crellin

Transgender dad, Fernando Machado, became an international news sensation when he announced he was pregnant with his trans girlfriend Diane Rodriguez in Ecuador. This is the love story of that family. Mississippi Premiere.

The Third Movement
Director: Josephine Anderson

World-renowned transgender classical pianist, Sara Davis Buechner lost a flourishing New York career after transitioning from male to female. The Third Movement is an intimate documentary portrait that explores Sara’s yearning to earn back her spot on the world stage. As Sara dreams about a comeback, she helps guide the next generation of piano greats on their rise to the top. The film is a creative and nuanced depiction of an artist who demonstrates unrelenting determination in the face of trans-targeted discrimination. United States Premiere

3 Friends

Director: Michael Moody Culpepper

Based on a Colm Tóibín short story, Fergus, a pensive, young Irishman, is propelled on a powerful journey. At his mother’s funeral and wake, Fergus confronts how his family shapes and defines him. He continues this journey at a beach rave, becoming aware of ways his friends define him. Ultimately, through death, grief, joy, and sex, Fergus defines himself. Regional Premiere

Director: Foster Wilson

A young, gay millennial discovers she's slept with the enemy and has to choose between swallowing her pride and standing by her principles. Mississippi Premiere.

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