At first, QDoc: The Portland Queer Documentary Festival could seem to have a distressingly small focus. As a niche within a niche, queer documentaries might appeal to a very specific slice of the population—but QDoc, now in its second year, proves the opposite, with four days of programming that stretch the genre to its limits, providing something of interest to pretty much everyone. QDoc's focus on nonfiction films enables it to set a firm, cohesive program, unlike the sprawling Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, yet still deal with myriad subjects. "Documentaries continue to creatively and energetically engage with the core issues of queer identity—politics, history, culture, family, aging and coming-out issues, queer diversity, [and] sexuality," QDoc's website proclaims, and looking at the films for 2008's QDoc, it's hard to argue with that logic.
A couple of highlights: Kicking off the fest is Suddenly, Last Winter (Thurs May 29), a look at domestic partnerships in Italy; directors and subjects Gustav Hofer and Luca Ragazzi will be in attendance. Suddenly is followed, over the next few days, by more than 10 films, including Be Like Others, about the "rationale behind gender reassignment in Iran," and Beyond Conception: Men Having Babies, a film that'll be just like the Arnold Schwarzenegger/Danny DeVito classic Junior, but for reals! (Okay, maybe not, but let's be serious for a sec: How great was Junior? And Twins!) There's also a free screening of, and a panel discussion about, It's Still Elementary, a follow-up to 1996's It's Elementary, which examined anti-gay prejudice in elementary and middle schools. The fest wraps up with a screening of 1984's Oscar-winning The Times of Harvey Milk, about San Francisco's first openly gay city supervisor. Gus Van Sant—who's currently working on a biopic of Milk, entitled, appropriately enough, Milk—will be on hand with Times director Rob Epstein for a discussion about the film and its subject.
For the Mercury's take on QDoc's films, see Film Shorts on pg. 44, and for more info, hit queerdocfest.org.