Reel Affirmations, Washington DC’s annual LGBTQ+ Film Festival is by The DC Center, a nonprofit organization offering several different programs to the local LGBTQ community. The Fest was established in 1981 and has been through a few major changes and reincarnations since then, but is still recognized as one of the largest queer film fests in the US.
Like most LGBTQ events it strives to be diverse as possible and as such programs films from right across the queer spectrum. Reel Affirmations does this extremely well. For example, it has selected a very healthy cross-section of movies with transgender subject matters that are set to both entertain and educate us all. It runs this year from 21st – 24th October and the Virtual Program can be accessed throughout the US>
QUEERGURU'S PICK OF MUST-SEE FILMS at the FEST
Caer (Caught) is an extraordinary film that takes an unusual approach to highlight a very serious problem. Australian-based filmmaker Nicola Mai’s remarkable hybrid documentary is about drawing our attention to the problematic situation facing trans-Latina sex workers in Queens NY.
FIREBIRD is an enormously satisfying and complete film, and it has been playing at every single queer film fest we have covered this year. It tells a full tale of life, and love, and loss from its beginning right up to an end that could never need or want a sequel. PEETER REBANE‘s story of two Soviet military recruits, a pilot officer and a private, falling in love on a military base during the 70s cold war, is based on a true story. Skeptical as we are about stories ‘based on’ truth, people’s ages and weights on dating profiles might make that same claim, there is an undeniably human element to this story that grips the heart and mind with a sense of both individuality and history
(P.S. you may also like to check out Queerguru’s interview with the Writer/ Director and his Co-Writer/Star http://c3f.ab6.myftpupload.com/peteer-rebane-tom-prior-talk-about-their-estonian-queer-romance-firebird/ )
Gossamer Folds: is the tale of a very unlikely friendship. Queer filmmaker Lisa Donato’s first feature film is the story of ten-year-old Tate (Jackson Robert Scott) and his white middle-class family had moved from the city in the hope his parents could save their shaky marriage. However, they hadn’t even unpacked when they realized it was a hopeless case as Billy (Shane West) his father was still cheating on his mother Frannie (Sprague Grayden). Billy however was less keen on apologizing for his behavior but more focused on heaping anger on his wife. He blamed her for the fact that their new neighbors were an African American family that included a transgender woman.
I AM SAMUEL: Religion, homophobia, and a lack of resources loom over a touching account of one man reconciling his love for another man with the expectations of his family. The brave participants of this documentary avoid melodrama, histrionics, and self-pity. It’s a show and tell story that gives its subjects the decency of realism.
JUMP DARLING : When you reach the end of the road you are on, what can you do? There are two answers, you stop or change direction. In CLORIS LEACHMAN’s final film made prior to her death, both these alternates are explored, and the poignancy is inescapable. Leachman plays Grams, the aging grandmother grown tired, frail, and distanced from the passions that engulfed her earlier years. Dreams of joining the ice capades are barely a memory. Facing a slow exit from her life, or the inertia of a retirement home, she grapples with what little sovereignty she has left. It is an exquisite swan song for one helluva wonderful actress and person
POTATO DREAMS OF AMERICA ; This excellent autobiographical tale of his journey from Russia as a young gay immigrant is the perfect choice for the opening night gala. Maybe a tad patchy in parts but it’s a joyous wee film with some wonderful surprises like an adorable Jonathan Bennett as Jesus and an almost unrecognizable Lea Delaria giving a scene-stealing performance.
(P.S. You may also like to check out our interview with the filmmaker http://c3f.ab6.myftpupload.com/wes-hurley-talks-potato-dreams-of-america/ )
QUEENS OF THE REVOLUTION: is the very compelling real-life story of a very brave and fierce set of queens of Mejumje a cultural center in Santa Clara that paved the road for LGBTQ+ rights in Cuba winning both our hearts and admiration. They put an entirely new meaning to the whole concept of fighting for our rights,
Not for the faint-hearted, RAW! UNCUT! VIDEO! chronicles the rise and fall of homegrown gay porn studio Palm Drive Video, and explores how a devoted couple helped battle a devastating health crisis by promoting kinky sex.
Valentina is a very impressive feature film debut from Brazilian writer/director Cássio Pereira dos Santos that tells the heartbreaking coming-of-age story of a transgender teenager. Kudos too for the powerful positive ending to this encouraging coming-out story which has Valentina being totally accepted by even all the School Officials. Lest we get too carried away with this one “happy-ever-after-story” , the final credits roll and remind us of the harsh reality of life for trans people.
YES I AM : THE RIC WEILAND STORY We all need heroes and role models. Especially in the LGBTQ community. Most of the ones we have are very colorful and loud. However, there are some like RIK WEILAND who are far from that. Yet this very quiet private man, who sadly took his own life in 2006, is probably the most important queer activist and philanthropist of his generation. Thanks to Aaron Bear’s new film we hope Weiland’s name and memory will be recognized for who he truly was.
(P.S. We were so fortunate to be able to track down the filmmaker and film this interview with him http://c3f.ab6.myftpupload.com/aaron-bear-talks-about-yes-i-am-the-ric-weiland-story/)
For the full program and how to book tickets check https://thedccenter.org/reelaffirmations/
For the full reviews of these films and over 1250 other queer movies check out http://c3f.ab6.myftpupload.com and whilst you are there be sure to subscribe to get all the latest raves and rants on queer cinema….. even better IT’s FREE