QDoc: Portland Queer Documentary Film Festival
All screenings take place at the Clinton St. Theater. For more info, see Film Featurette.
BE LIKE OTHERS
In Iran, homosexuality is punishable by death. Sexual reassignment surgery, however, is allowed. In fact, Iran is the only country in the world that allows one to change their birth certificate to reflect their "new" gender. But in a country with ingrained Islamic sensibilities, even transexuals view homosexuality as a sin: What they are doing is a medical condition, while what homosexuals practice is a choice. The focus of this doc, however, is on the struggle of the sexual reassignment surgery—before, during, and after. Says one of the patients: "If I laugh, it is a laughter sadder than crying. I have no tears left." DREW GEMMER
MEN HAVING BABIES
Meet Jennifer, Jenna, Paul, Bruce, and Jade—the five adults it took to create one baby in this documentary about queer conception. Paul and Bruce want a second child, and decide to go the surrogate route (with a donated egg from a woman named Jade). Jennifer is the surrogate. Complicating matters, Jennifer's partner Jenna is also trying to get pregnant, to bring a third child into the lesbian couple's family. Any sweet fantasies you might have held about queers coming together to make babies are at risk of being shattered: Beyond Conception gets up close to everything, from the negotiations between Jennifer and the fathers, to all of the medical procedures to get her pregnant and, of course, the birth. Not all of it is pretty, and all parties end up second guessing why they went down this intriguing path. Director Johnny Symons in attendance. AMY J. RUIZ
DARLING! THE PIETER-DIRK UYS STORY
Pieter-Dirk Uys, a South African political satirist, was one of the first to call the way that AIDS has been dealt with in South Africa an act of genocide—be it the president's denial of a link between HIV and AIDS in 1999, or the minister of health's 2004 claim that "a healthy diet is as effective at treating AIDS as are anti-viral drugs." Uys' gigs entail talking, often in drag, to schoolchildren about condoms, "femdoms," and all those things they're afraid to ask. It's inspiring, enlightening, and very well made. Darling! screens with 7 Years, a film that takes its title from the fact that the last convicted homosexual in Kenya was sentenced to seven years in prison. Urban Nairobi might seem modern, but in many ways, its stringent views on homosexuality have stayed the same since the 1800s. At a brief 25 minutes, 7 Years offers a brief glimpse at this problem. DREW GEMMER
FTF: FEMALE TO FEMME
The past few years have been a boon for drag kings, FTMs, and trannies, as all eyes seem to be on the more masculine end of the queer spectrum. But what about the ladies? They come out in this documentary, which explores when lesbians "knew" they were femme, and how their process of embracing heels and lipstick—and the discrimination that can come from within the queer community—mirrors that of their transgendered friends. Interviews with people like The L Word writer Guinevere Turner and musician Bitch from Bitch & Animal bring this under-explored corner of gender theory to life. Director Kami Chisholm in attendance. AMY J. RUIZ
IT'S STILL ELEMENTARY
It's Still Elementary focuses on the production and release of 1996's It's Elementary, a then-groundbreaking documentary about teaching tolerance to grade school-level children, which was vilified by the religious right as being part of a homosexual plot to convert schoolchildren. The new doc checks in with some of the teachers and students profiled in '96, reviews the controversy surrounding that film's release, assesses the past and current state of LBGT education in schools, and suggests ways educators can help foster a safe climate for all of their students. It's earnest, well intentioned, and painfully dull. Co-director Johnny Symons in attendance. ALISON HALLETT
LIVING WITH PRIDE: RUTH C. ELLIS @ 100
Detroit can now claim, in addition to its many superlatives, that it's home to the oldest lesbian on the planet. Or, rather, it was. Ruth Ellis died in 2000, but was interviewed as a spry 100-year-old the year before. It's somewhat surprising that she died a year later, because, at 100, she was still making the rounds at the local lesbian bars, dancing 'til dawn, and having nonagenarian sex. Coverage of the first half of the century (where her home was a safe haven for other homos of color) proves fascinating. WILL GARDNER
SEARCHING 4 SANDEEP
Twenty-eight-year-old Australian filmmaker Poppy Stockell was tired of Sydney's dating scene ("all the girls have really cool haircuts, and they're so young"), so she went online and met Sandeep Virdi, a 31-year-old Sikh girl who still lived with her family in Leamington, near Coventry, in Britain. Stockell sent Sandeep a video camera and the pair of them started dating long distance. Talk about a culture clash. It would be a shame to ruin the ending for you, but this sweet and brave piece of filmmaking charts new territory in the chronicling of modern relationships, especially where technology is concerned. It's hopeful and optimistic, too. Did I ruin the ending? Perhaps. But you should still see this. It will brighten your outlook for weeks. Director in attendance. MATT DAVIS
SUDDENLY, LAST WINTER
Feast on the eye candy of Italian directors Gustav Hofer and Luca Ragazzi—for they are handsome, funny, and will be in attendance at QDoc's opening night festivities. The long-term couple's collaborative documentary focuses on Italy's legislative decision about domestic partnerships—common throughout Europe, but faced with decided homophobia in Catholic Italy. While the film gets bogged down by filming legislative nitpicking sessions and repetitive right-wing protests, the charm of Gustav and Luca makes up for the documentary's shortcomings... did I mention how hot they are? Directors in attendance. COURTNEY FERGUSON
SHE'S A BOY I KNEW
A candid documentary by Gwen Haworth about her transformation from male to female, She's a Boy I Knew is actually more about how her experience affected those around her. Haworth's loving parents are willing to be honest on camera about the sadness and loss they experienced when their son, Steven, became Gwen, but while Haworth's parents' interviews are bittersweet, the film's greatest focus is on Malgosia, the beautiful wife Haworth married as Steven, and her attempt to remain with Haworth through the transformation. MARJORIE SKINNER
THE TIMES OF HARVEY MILK
Filmed in the years after Harvey Milk's assassination 30 years ago, The Times of Harvey Milk captures the first openly gay politician's life and ascent to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, and his tragic death at the hands of fellow supervisor Dan White (who also killed the mayor). Told with tons of archival footage—including then board president and now US Senator Dianne Feinstein announcing the double murder to the press—and interviews with Milk's friends and associates, it's a well-rounded picture of a pivotal person and moment in civil rights history (the film won a well-deserved Academy Award in 1984). Director Rob Epstein in attendance, along with Gus Van Sant. AMY J. RUIZ
THE UNIVERSE OF KEITH HARING
A pretty tame documentary (featuring interviews with Kenneth Scharf, Yoko Ono, and Haring's family) about the renowned artist. Despite the fact that the 90-minute doc is cursory, if you're a fan of Haring's but don't know why, this film is for you. WILL GARDNER
"Don't knock masturbation! It's sex with someone I love!" Broadway Metroplex.
Be Kind Rewind
The man who gave the world the wonderful Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind directs Be Kind Rewind. The story is about a video store in Passaic, New Jersey. The store only rents VHS tapes. Mos Def works in the store; Jack Black hangs around the store. Believably, the old building is about to get knocked down for a new condo. Believably, Jack is electrocuted while trying to sabotage a power plant. Unbelievably, Jack becomes magnetized. Unbelievably, his magnetized body erases all the VHS tapes in the video store. To stay in business, Mos Def decides to make homemade versions of the films that were erased by Jack Black's magnetized body. No, a human cannot be magnetized. Yes, Jack's electrocution would have killed a normal human being. No, we can never imagine Mos Def and Jack Black as best friends. None of this makes sense, none of it is bad, and none of it is as impressive as Eternal Sunshine. CHARLES MUDEDE Various Theaters.
Nominated for an Oscar in the 2007 best foreign film category, the Israeli Beaufort follows the story of Israeli armed forces and their evacuation, in 2000, of a 12th century fort in Lebanon. Ironically, the fort—for which the film is named—was first captured from the Lebanese by Israel in 1982, during a fierce battle in which many people from both sides died. One might, therefore, ask what was the point of all those deaths in the first place—and essentially, that's the question posed by the film. Through lead actor Oshri Cohen and the rest of his cast, director Joseph Cedar does a worthy, heartrending job of convincing even the most gung-ho viewer of what a pissing contest between schoolboys wars such as this one essentially are. Why bother occupying a territory? Surely there are more worthwhile ways of spending 20 years. MATT DAVIS Living Room Theaters.
The Big Lebowski
See review. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Dope Fiend Confidential:
Drug Scare Films
Educational films warn you away from marijuana, PCP, and amphetamines. Heh. Too late! Fifth Avenue Cinema.
See review. Fox Tower 10.
From One Rose
"A cinematic journey through the life of a woman born at the turn of the century in Portland, Oregon, who grows up with the Rose Festival." For the sake of Rose Festival authenticity, the screening will include plenty of drunk Greshamites, who will likely be fighting with a good number of overpopulating Beavertonians over cotton candy, stuffed animals, spots on the filthy sidewalk, etc. Carnies may or may not be in attendance, depending on the weather. Clinton St. Theater, Living Room Theaters.
The Grindhouse Trailer Spectacular
A whole bunch of classic grindhouse trailer goodness, from the folks behind the Grindhouse Film Festival. Hollywood Theatre.
A documentary about 93-year-old actress Mimi Weddell, billed as "a gentle examination of family relationships, love, and ultimately the dreams which drive us." Hollywood Theatre.
Heavy Metal in Baghdad
A documentary about Iraqi heavy metal band Acrassicauda. A screener copy arrived past our print deadline; hit portlandmercury.com on Friday, May 30, for our review. Someday Lounge.
Martin McDonagh's uneven but entertaining dark comedy follows two hit men (perfectly played by the often terrible Colin Farrell and the always excellent Brendan Gleeson) stranded in a tiny Belgian tourist town. Dealing with midgets, Euro trash, and a fair amount of blood, both men crack wise, get fucked up, and make increasingly poor decisions. Awkwardly teetering between melodrama and slapstick, In Bruges never finds its footing, and it all goes shamefully and irrevocably to shit in its final act (despite Ralph Fiennes' fantastic attempt at a last-minute save, playing Farrell and Gleeson's disgruntled boss). But up until then: great characters, and certainly a fun enough way to kill a few hours. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
To lapse into shameless nostalgia for a sec (which Crystal Skull does a few times, too): Crystal Skull is the first new Indiana Jones flick I've seen since I was nine, and as the opening credits rolled, I felt a type of excitement I hadn't felt since then. It stuck, and it stayed, and even when the end credits came up, I was still grinning. Above all, and despite its flaws (one scene, involving monkeys, will likely make you want to gouge your eyes out), Crystal Skull is mostly just pulpy, goofy, ludicrous fun, but it's also a reminder: Indiana Jones has been gone for entirely too long, and it's good to have him back. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
Marianne Faithful stars in this film about a downtrodden woman, Maggie, who turns to unglamorous sex work to pay medical bills for her dying grandson. No longer the Rolling Stone-baiting bombshell she was 40 years ago, Maggie's character is reduced to "manning" a gloryhole—work for which she's well suited, thanks to her soft palms and caring nature. The film avoids cliché, portraying Maggie's Faustian bargain with depressed sex club manager Miki (Miki Manojlovic) in plausibly romantic terms. MATT DAVIS Hollywood Theatre.
See review. Hollywood Theatre.
OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies
After saving the Allies' bacon in WWII, a strapping French superspy goes undercover in Cairo on a mission complicated by slumming Nazis, henchmen in fezzes, and ridiculously leggy dames. Oh, and an assassin who wields chickens. Bond spoofs may be old hat, but director Michel Hazanavicius generates such a rolling comedic momentum—and a few genuinely ace retro action sequences—that the thing feels like the first of its kind. The rare spoof that actually improves as it goes, due in large part to the increasingly hilarious deadpan machismo of star Jean Dujardin. Even his goddamned teeth are funny. ANDREW WRIGHT Hollywood Theatre.
Sex and the City
See review. Various Theaters.
Shine A Light
The best and worst thing I can say about Martin Scorsese's Rolling Stones concert film is that it perfectly sums up what the Stones have become. ERIK HENRIKSEN Cinema 21.
Smart People's cast is solid and understated, with strong turns from Dennis Quaid, Thomas Hayden Church, and Ellen Page; in painting a portrait of an unhappy, literate, and too-clever family in suburban Pittsburgh, writer/director Noam Murro hits several choice moments of sweet and melancholy humor. The problems kick in during the third act, though: As Murro guides his subjects, one by one, toward happiness, he loses sight of their acerbic and believable characterizations, softening up their wry, weary dialogue and patching over their witty discontent with too-easy solutions. (I'm pretty sure this is the first time The New Yorker has served as a deus ex machina.) ERIK HENRIKSEN Mission Theater.
See review. Various Theaters.
The Man Who Wasn't There
See review. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Local film archivist Greg Hamilton's program of classic movie trailers, featuring trailers from Rollerball, Coffy, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, Jeremiah Johnson, and a kajillion more. Fifth Avenue Cinema.
"One final thing I have to do... and then I'll be free of the past." Cinema 21.
See review. Living Room Theaters.