January 2010


My Arm’s Been Banded: Pride Film Festival Night 1

Even though my birthday’s not quite here, yet, Mateo and Chaz have already given me my birthday present: a weekend pass to this year’s Pride Film Festival in Bloomington, Indiana.

Thus the timing of this trip to the States has worked out magnificently and instead of finding myself looking for things to do on the weekend, I have a set schedule already for this weekend: movies, movies, and more movies.

I appeared at the doors of the Buskirk-Chumley Indiana Theater on Kirkwood Avenue last night at 6:45—Mateo and Chaz were already inside, so it was simply a matter of exchanging my ticket for a shiny and reflective wristband currently decorating my right arm.

With that I need to acknowledge that I’m a bit of a cynic and that at times I need to squash that inner drive to belittle everything.

I say this because my initial reaction to two short films made in a week my local filmmakers was not so great and my initial gut reaction to the drag kings (“oh no, lesbians trying to be like gay men!”) was was off in the end.

First off, the evening started with two short films made by locals and students in less than a week. The amount of work put into the films was impressive, even if, to be honest, I didn’t get the first film.

I got that in the first film there was a guy dating a girl and trying to figure out how to tell her that he’s gay—but some of the other aspects of the story eluded me and I’m not sure if this is because I’m an expatriate, old, or some other combination of factors. The second film was a comedic 10-ten list of things not to do and it was clearly over the top and it had the audience laughing. My favorite item in the top ten list was the advice to not bleach your anus, although it wasn’t exactly phrased that way.

Before the short films started live entertainment was provided by the Gender Studs. Honestly this is one of my moments of weakness. I, in general, do not get drag kings. I do get drag queens—men dressing up as fabulous women wearing amazing dresses and dancing I totally get, even if I have zero interest in doing it myself or dating somebody who does. Flip it around and let women wear wife-beaters that squash their breasts while drawing on fake mustaches and I just don’t get it. Maybe it’s the facial hair thing: I have zero interest (in general) in men with facial hair and I don’t get why they do it.

Actually I don’t get it in general, now that I think about it, I haven’t ever seen a drag king that’s totally convincing, while I have met some drag queens who totally pass as women.

So at last night’s Pride Film Festival, it worked—not completely—but enough. There was too much faux-facial hair and it felt like too much was being crammed into the program. That said, it worked and I liked it. There was even one “dude” who was hot—the kind of dude that if were actually a dude would be the kid of guy I seem to always fall for.

After this the film festival got going in earnest with four shorts. My favorite out of the four was “Second Guessing Grandma”, a sweet film about a boy coming out and trying to get his grandma to accept him as gay. It’s actually quite typical of the coming out genre landing on the side of acceptance: there’s turmoil, angst, and in the end grandma accepts and all’s right with the world.

The evening closed out with Patrik 1,5 (or for the Americans: Patrik 1.5 – which doesn’t work as well). As I noted before, I’ve already seen the film and I like the film. It’s a tale of homophobia and living with the embodiment of it in one’s own gay household. The film is Swedish and in the end makes a point about doing what’s right and not what’s easiest. There’s also a message about acceptance which is very sweet.

There’s some kind of internal transformation going on in me because I am reacting more swiftly than ever to these kinds of films. I never would have had an emotional response to the film a decade ago, but now it made me a bit weepy. I could imagine myself in the situation of the gay couple—which marks some kind of transformation because I’ve rarely identified with gay couples. I say this as somebody who is perpetually single living in a small city.

5 comments to My Arm’s Been Banded: Pride Film Festival Night 1

  • Have fun! I’ll be stuck down south in snow (maybe) up to my ankles. Blah. We’re going to watch “Bottle Rocket” tonight …

  • I never would have had an emotional response to the film a decade ago, but now it made me a bit weepy.

    Join the club. Sarah and I were channel hopping the other night and “As Good As It Gets” (Spanish title: Mejor… Imposible) came on. We started watching it mostly for the subtitles, looking for low-hanging vocabulary fruit, and we got to the part where Carol requires Melvin to pay her a compliment, and he comes through with a whopper:

    You make me want to be a better man.

    Fortunately, just a few teardrops escaped — no out and out bawling, because I was totally unprepared, given a lap full of guacamole and chips and no kleenices in sight.

    I wonder if it’s an age thing, since I can’t imagine a reaction like that from me five or ten years ago (in fact, I DON’T remember a reaction like that from me when the movie came out ten years ago).

    • It must be an age thing — it’s actually quite strange how things that rolled past me in the past now make me want to cry.

  • mateo

    I thought I heard some sniffling as you sat next to me, Adam! 😉

  • Reko

    I think that “Second Guessin Grandma” is an extremely touching short film.