Rhode Island film fest features GLBT-themed movies

by Joe Siegel

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Monday July 28, 2008

A variety of GLBT-themed films will be one of the main attractions of the annual Rhode Island International Film Festival which will run from Tuesday, Aug. 5 through Sunday, Aug. 10.

This year the GLBT festival is screening 27 films from across the globe on an array of topics that explore everything from relationships, bisexuality, cancer survival, Crystal Meth addiction, a documentary on Rhode Island drag queens to a mockumentary by actor Dan Butler.

A key theme that will surface throughout the festival is the role of the individual in society and where does one's conscience begin and social responsibility end. Along with these 27 films made for, by, and about the GLBT community, the Rhode Island International Film Festival will be screening 289 other films the week of the festival.

Besides the Courthouse Center for the Arts in West Kingston, venues will be scattered throughout the state's capital city. They include: The Cable Car Cinema, the Providence Public Library, Gallery Z, the Bell Street Chapel, Columbus Theatre Arts Center, Brown/RISD Hillel, URI Feinstein Providence, Providence Black Repertory Theatre, and the RISD Museum.

"Bailey-Boushay House: A Living History," a documentary directed by Terence Brown, screens Saturday, Aug. 9 at 9:30 p.m. at Columbus Theatre Arts Center. "Bailey-Boushay House" broke ground during the height of fear and discrimination around the AIDS epidemic in the late '80s.

The film follows the story of a grassroots effort to build the first facility of it's kind in the U.S. and vividly portrays both the immense compassion and enormous loss experienced in the early days of operation.

"Bi The Way," directed by Brittany Blockman, follows five young people who embrace sexual ambiguity in an evolving sexual landscape. It screens Saturday, Aug. 10 at 7:15 p.m. at Cable Car Cinema.

"Envisioning Justice: The Story of a Transgendered Woman," is a documentary about the life and work of Pauline Park. Park co-founded the New York Association for Gender Rights Advocacy (NYAGRA), the first statewide transgender advocacy organization in New York.

Park led the campaign for passage of Int. No. 24, the transgender rights ordinance enacted by the New York City Council as Local Law 3 of 2002. Park was the first openly transgendered individual chosen to be a grand marshal of the New York City Pride March, serving in that capacity in the 2006 Pride March. The film screens Wednesday, Aug. 6 at the RISD Museum and Saturday, Aug.9 at Cable Car Cinema.

"Gramercy Stories," directed by Joyce Chopra, explores the highly charged subject of sexual identity, focusing on gay or transgender teenagers who have been failed by the foster care system or were runaways living on the streets. Although a range of residents and staff appear throughout, the film is essentially portraits of three courageous young people who are trying hard to transform their lives. The film will be shown Wednesday, Aug. 6 at 9:15 pm at Bell Street Chapel.

"Life's a Drag," a "dragumentary" from director Lara Sebastian, chronicles the lives of 4 local drag queens, including Miss Sabrina Blaze (Wayne Hawkins), Kitty Litter (Stephen Hartley) BB Hayes (Brian Laquerre) and La Diva Jonz (Gary Jacques). The film will be screened Wednesday, Aug. 6 at 9:30 p.m. at Columbus Theater Arts Center.

"Karl Rove, I Love You," directed by Dan Butler and Phil Leirness, is about a film documentarian who approaches Butler ("Bulldog" from "Frasier") to do a movie about the "unknown supporting actor" with Butler and his career as the focus of the film. During a game of "Celebrity" at a dinner party Butler chooses the name Karl Rove, President Bush's notorious political advisor.

He's immediately lambasted by his politically-active friends, one of whom suggests that Rove would be a great part for him to play. Butler does some initial research on Rove and is smitten! This is the "lead" he's been longing to play! The only problem is as Butler goes deeper and deeper into his research, he actually falls in love with Rove. The film will be shown on Friday, Aug. 8 at 11:45 pm at Cable Car Cinema.

Advance ticket sales for screenings and special events are available through the RIIFF website (www.RIFilmFest.org). Student, group, and senior discounts are also available with advance booking. To purchase tickets or obtain more information about any aspect of RIIFF, call

401-861-4445; or write RIIFF, 268 Broadway, Providence, RI 02903 or www.RIFilmFest.org.

Joe Siegel has written for a number of other GLBT publications, including In newsweekly and Options.