The Castro Theatre at 429 Castro Street in San Francisco celebrates its hundred years on June 22. This treasured space for film, music and live performance is also an icon of the LGBTQ community and a city Historic Landmark. It is also the place that has welcomed Marc Huestis and many of his productions for 20 years.
The documentary is a tribute to Marc himself, also symbolic retribution for the investment of energy, love, respect, and the example he has provided to the LGBT community since the mid-seventies.
The film shows Marc’s many faces as he shares his experiences directly with us and also does a select group of interviewed collaborators ( Debra “Beaver” Bauer, David Weissman, Dan Nicoletta, Rob Epstein, Lulu, Lawrence Hellman, Mx Justin Vivian Bond and John Cameron Mitchel, among others).
Descriptions refer to his first impersonations in the world of entertainment as an out-of-control drag performer, his participation in the theater collective Angels of Light, his evolution from filming in Super 8 format and bringing the films to develop at Harvey Milk´s camera store, to directing movies (The Basket Case, Unity, Whatever Happened to Susan Jane, Chuck Solomon: Coming of Age and Sex Is… a brave film to do at a time of fear around sex-) to produce theatre, musicals and shows, keeping camp and gay sensibility alive, while in conversations with celebrities as Kim Novak, Patty Duke, Debbie Reynolds, Rita Moreno, Jo Beth Williams and Ali MacGraw to name a few.
Especially poignant in the film is the conversation with Ms. MacGraw, referring to the fact that Rock Hudson came out with HIV and AIDS and forced Ronald Reagan to say the word AIDS in 1985, after 8 years of silence… Silence = death and the lack of awareness on the disease that could have saved thousands of lives, resonates nowadays after the “the slap in the face”, that members of the LGBTQ+ community called the infamous Nancy Reagan Forever stamp that was unveiled at the White House days ago, at the beginning of Pride Month.
On the other hand, particularly moving was Marc´s initiative in those years of grief, to celebrate friends while they were still alive giving them a memorial to enjoy.
Surrounded by nature at his cabin in Kyburz, CA he shares being a survivor that went through the plague and dealt face to face with life and death. Marc expresses that drinking and compulsive sex were a constant in his life, in order to get sober you have to hit the bottom… at 40, he has been HIV+ not sure if for ten or fifteen years. Also, he has always been much up front in any conversation, and a voice ahead of time, not a conformist, politics are a part of his life, he is passionate about them.
From a poster hanging in his kitchen, Barbara Stanwyck stares at him while cooking a homegrown blackberry jam, we noticed that his garden is one of earthly delights. At the present, nature has a place in his life, ambition used to be important, and getting his name on a paper used to be important, but not anymore. He likes to be himself and to be with his cat in the cabin in the mountains, as a free spirit, and have the time to breathe. He compares himself with the energizer bunny, hope we will have liveliness for many years to come.
Since movies and drama are something we all share on a kind of daily life basis, and Marc is no exception, he and his friend Debra visit postal picture Echo Lake, CA, remembering George Stevens´ A Place in the Sun, while driving and at the lake, recall Liz, Montgomery and Shelley were there too and still are, alive and kicking in their thoughts and ours.
P.S. Marc Huestis was the co-founder of the San Francisco Gay Film Festival, now the oldest and largest of its ilk ….now known as Frameline
IMPRESSARIO was directed and produced by Lauretta Molitor and had its world premiere at Frameline 46
Review by José Mayorga , Guatemala, Central America lawyer and notary public, visual artist, and editor of El Azar Cultural, raised as a Catholic, lives and works in Guatemala City. Cinema lover, curious about the possibilities life brings and eager to live the experience.