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Archive for the ‘movies’ Category

First Big Screen Gay Superhero Comes to Florida Supercon in Sequel (Bruce Vilanch Cameos)

Friday, July 21st, 2017

SFGN
First Big Screen Gay Superhero Comes to Florida Supercon in Sequel
JW Arnold
07/19/2017

SFGN_SurgeofPower

Big budget sequels are a given for superhero franchises like Spider Man, Iron Man and Superman, but the world’s first “out” gay superhero, Surge, is finally returning to the big screen after a 13-year hiatus.

Audiences at Florida Supercon will get a look at the final version of “Surge of Power: Revenge of the Sequel” on July 29 at 1:30 p.m.

Surge, a mild-mannered attorney who gains superpowers to fight homophobia and bullying, is the creation of Vincent J. Roth. Roth, also a corporate attorney by day and cosplay fan, wrote, produced and starred in both indie films.

“I grew up with the ‘Super Friends’ on Saturday morning cartoons and loved (superheroes),” recalled Roth. “For myself, as a boy, not even pre-gay, I hadn’t developed a gay identity. There’s an escapism (to superheroes): the ugly duckling to beautiful swan thing, an ordinary person transforming into the extraordinary, colorful costumes, champions standing up for the underdogs. That’s why people get enamored with them, there’s someone looking out for you.”

The first film, completed in 2004 and featured on the festival circuit, received a limited national distribution (including a run at the Classic Gateway Theatre in Fort Lauderdale in 2006). “Surge” quickly became a cult favorite for its celebrity cameos.

“It’s become part of our shtick,” explained Roth. “With the first film, it was a spoof with the campy flavor of the old Adam West ‘Batman’ TV show. He would have some miscellaneous celebrities pop in and we did that with ‘Surge’.”

Nichelle Nichols (“Star Trek”), Lou Ferrigno (“The Incredible Hulk”) and Noel Neill (Lois Lane, “The Adventures of Superman”) were among the 20 stars to appear and, when Roth approached them to return for the sequel, they were quick to recruit their friends.

“Revenge of the Sequel” boasts 50 celebrity cameos, including Jack Larson (Jimmy Olsen, “The Adventures of Superman”), Linda Blair (“The Exorcist”), Gil Gerard (“Buck Rogers”), Robert Picardo (“Star Trek: Voyager”), comedian Bruce Vilanch and Las Vegas female impersonator and producer Frank Marino.

Work on the sequel began in 2008, but “life got in the way,” said Roth. He began filming scenes in bits and starts before production “rebooted” three years ago. After several focus groups and public screenings—and subsequent tweaks—the final version of the film is headed to Fort Lauderdale.

The movie industry friends who advised Roth “every superhero film should have a sequel” have already been encouraging him to make “Surge” a trilogy and he’s certainly kept that possibility open in the script. He’s also developing “Big City Chronicles,” an internet variety show offering fans short webisodes, behind-the-scenes documentaries and cast interviews.

“It’s a way to keep fans engaged during those in-between times,” he said, while he negotiates a commercial distribution deal for the sequel. “My hope is to expand the (Surge) world even further.”

“Surge of Power: Revenge of the Sequel” will be screened on Saturday, July 29 at 1:30 p.m. at Florida Supercon, July 27 – 30 at the Broward County Convention Center, 1950 Eisenhower Ave. in Fort Lauderdale. For a schedule and tickets, go to FloridaSupercon.com. For more information about the film, visit SurgeOfPower.org.

Film Review: ‘The Fabulous Allan Carr’

Thursday, July 6th, 2017

Variety
Film Review: ‘The Fabulous Allan Carr
By Dennis Harvey
July 3, 2017

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Taking the same workmanlike, conventional if sprightly approach to mixing talking-head and archival materials he did in “I Am Divine” and “Tab Hunter Confidential,” Schwarz chronicles his subject’s barreling up the entertainment-industry ladder through sheer determination and fandom. The Chicago suburbanite started out investing in legit theater enterprises (invariably involving fabled veteran headliners), moved to TV with the “Playboy’s Penthouse” series, then got involved in event planning (often extravagant showbiz launch parties) and talent management. In the latter vein, his biggest coup was revitalizing the career of Ann-Margret, who in the late ’60s had run her course as an overexposed “sex kitten.” Carr got her a much improved, long-lasting second wind on the Vegas stage, in TV specials and in better movies (including Oscar-nominated turns in “Carnal Knowledge” and “Tommy”).

Beyond producing a number of the broadcast variety specials still popular then, he dabbled in an odd assortment of enterprises wearing various hats: Putting together the Joe Namath-Ann-Margret biker flick “C.C. & Company” (1970); repackaging a cheesy Mexican disaster-cum-cannibal exploitation feature into the incongruously high-grossing “Survive!” (1976); playing key roles in the marketing of 1978’s best picture winner “The Deer Hunter” as well as producer Robert Stigwood’s music-driven hits “Tommy” and “Saturday Night Fever.” That gave him the clout to become the driving force behind a pet project, filming Broadway tuner “Grease” with “Fever”’s John Travolta and pop star Olivia Newton-John. It was a box-office smash, although Carr’s penchant for self-promotion wound up irking co-producer Stigwood, with whom relations became strained.

That was of little concern to Carr, who was now king of the mountain — even if studio executives and others often snickered behind his eccentrically caftan-clad back. If he couldn’t be one of the “beautiful people” (at one point he underwent gastric-bypass surgery to stem his ballooning weight), he could at least surround himself by them, including a stable of fame-aspiring pretty boys. Some of their surviving number, as well as several celebrity pals, attest to his indulgences and generosity here, though also to some drug-fueled mood swings.

The latter — as well as personal tastes more enthusiastic than refined — may have played a role in several spectacular, costly miscalculations. The most infamous was 1980’s tardy disco extravaganza “Can’t Stop the Music,” starring the Village People, Steve Guttenberg, Valerie Perrine and Bruce Jenner (now Caitlyn, and alongside Ann-Margret a notable interview holdout here). That $20 million boondoggle was directed by veteran actress Nancy Walker, who had almost no behind-the-camera experience and was dubbed by some participants “Can’t Stop the Cocaine.” Almost equally derided, if not quite as financially catastrophic (and an even bigger subsequent camp “classic”), was 1982’s ill-advised “Grease 2.”

Carr licked his wounds from these and other failures by turning to Broadway, where he assembled the major-league talents that would make the following year’s “La Cage aux Folles” not only a huge hit but the Great White Way’s first fully “out” gay-themed musical. Alas, this comeback triumph would soon be overshadowed by what had seemed his “dream come true” plum assignment: producing the Academy Awards broadcast.

While much of that 61st ceremony in 1989 proved influential (among other things, it introduced staple Bruce Vilanch as head comedy writer), the press heaped scorn on a long, awkward, starry and spoofy opening number that had Snow White (Eileen Bowman) traipsing past various new and aged stars singing nonsensically chosen songs (most infamously Rob Lowe’s rendition of “Proud Mary”). The intended absurdist humor missed the mark, humiliating Carr further when a roster of Hollywood bigwigs including some he considered close friends wrote an open letter castigating the Academy for this “embarrassment.”


While it uses this low ebb as a narrative bookend, “The Fabulous Allan Carr” adds insult to old injury by suggesting it was all Carr’s brainstorm — curiously failing to note that the campy concept and style were lifted whole from long-running San Francisco revue “Beach Blanket Babylon,” whose creator Steve Silver was very much involved in the telecast.

Practically exiled for this “crime,” Carr became a recluse before cancer claimed his life in 1999 at age 62. He did at least live to enjoy a successful 20th-anniversary rerelease of “Grease” the prior year.

A lot of colleagues both famous and non- provide amusing recollections of an over-the-top persona and the glittering excess he liked to surround himself with. One could wish for a less pedestrian package than the one Schwarz has provided (a few brief animations providing the most adventuresome touch), but then this story supplies quite enough kitschy, name-dropping flavor on its own, with or without additional stylistic filigreeing.



Film Review: ‘The Fabulous Allan Carr’


Reviewed online, San Francisco, May 24, 2017. (In Seattle Film Festival, Frameline, Outfest.) Running time: 90 MIN.

Production


(Docu) An Automat Pictures and Lottie & Lorraine Pictures presentation. (International sales: The Film Collaborative, L.A.) Producers: John Boccardo, Jeffrey Schwarz. Co-producers: Larry Spitler, Taki Oldham. Executive producer: David Permut.

Crew


Director: Jeffrey Schwarz. Camera (color, HD): Jeff Byrd, Matt May, Keith Walker. Editors: Carl Pfirman, Schwarz. Music: Michael “The Millionaire” Cudahy.

With


Patricia Birch, Maxwell Caulfield, Steve Guttenberg, Nikki Haskell, Robert Hofler, Randy Jones, Randal Kleiser, Sherry Lansing, Lorna Luft, Michael Musto, Robert Osborne, Brett Ratner, Connie Stevens, Alana Stewart, Marlo Thomas, Bruce Vilanch.

See New Bruce Vilanch Film September 8th, 9:00 PM At The 8th Annual Burbank International Film Festival

Wednesday, September 7th, 2016

Broadway World
8th Annual Burbank International Film Festival Announces Record-Breaking Film Schedule
By Movies News Desk
August 31, 2016

4-27-2013 3-49-54 AM

The Burbank International Film Festival is pleased to present a record-breaking 140 films including 22 from outside the US, and 12 world premieres at the Burbank AMC 16 in Downtown Burbank from Wednesday, September 7th, through Sunday, September 11th, 2016. For tickets, festival passes, special hotel rates please visit www.burbankfilmfest.org.

Now in its 8th year, the Burbank International Film Festival is five-day celebration of independent film bringing together emerging international talent, film enthusiasts, and industry leaders to experience the best in contemporary film in Burbank, the Media Capital of the World.

“With 14 countries represented, and 53 market premieres, the festival has grown significantly in the U.S. and internationally,” stated Jeffrey Rector, festival director. “From China, to India, to Europe and Nepal, 20% of this year’s films are from abroad. Now more than ever, the Burbank International Film Festival celebrates and supports filmmaking talent where ever it is found.”

Representative categories include independent full-length films, shorts, special event movies, comedy, drama, student filmmakers, sci-fi, faith-based, animation, foreign language, and documentary films.

In addition to awards being given in each filmmaking genre, the festival will also honor Michelle Nichols with a Lifetime Achievement Award, Danny Woodbury with the Diversity Award, and Jane Seymour with the Awareness Award. In recognition of the 15th anniversary of 9/11, the festival will honor a veteran from World War II, and one from Iraq/Afghanistan. Hal Albert (WWII) and Doug Woodhams (Iraq and Afghanistan) will both receive the Act of Valor Award. New this year, in recognition of director Garry Marshall, the inaugural Garry Marshall Spirit Award will be a continuing tribute to his life and legacy, and will be presented to a different recipient every year.

FESTIVAL HIGHLIGHTS

OPENING NIGHT, Wednesday, September 7th, 6:00 PM

AMC Burbank 16

RED CARPET AND DEDICATION, 6:00 PM: Hosted by Fritz Coleman with opening remarks from Burbank Mayor Jess Talamantes and former Walt Disney Studios Chairman and Legendary Pictures Board Member Dick Cook, the Opening Night Gala is dedicated to honoring the life and achievements of director Garry Marshall, with the Spirit Award being presented to the Marshall family.

OPENING NIGHT FEATURE FILM, 7:00 PM: The Wave (Norway, 2016) directed by Roar Uthaug, starring Kristoffer Joner, Ane Dahl Torp, Jonas Hoff Oftebro.

A geologist’s warning of an imminent disaster goes unheeded. Although predicted, no one is prepared when sudden seismic activity causes a mountain to collapse, creating a violent Tsunami that threatens to destroy everything in its path. This disaster film is based upon true events and is presented courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

OPENING NIGHT SECOND FEATURE FILM, 7:30 PM: Last Call at Murray’s (USA 2016) directed by Linda Palmer, starring Paula Jai Parker, Michael Gross, John Savage.

Dwindling clientele and new smoking ordinances have forced veteran bar-owner Murray to make a tough decision: it’s time to close the bar. However, Murray’s hopes for a quiet closing are dashed when a freak blizzard strands a host of zany people all night. Between drinks and karaoke, alliances are formed, broken, and blown sky-high.

COMEDY FEATURE FILM #1, Thursday, September 8th, 9:00 PM

Surge of Power: Revenge of the Sequel (USA 2016) Directed by Antonio Lexerot and Vincent J. Roth, starring Eric Roberts, Linda Blair, Bruce Vilanch.

Featuring more than 50 celebrities, the long awaited sequel with cinema’s first openly gay superhero tracks Metal Master to Las Vegas, finding himself out of his element in a strange town. Surge is soon aided by local college students deploying their own talents to help Surge uncover Metal Master’s activities, putting Surge in awkward situations.

COMEDY FEATURE FILM #2, Friday, September 9th, 8:30 PM

The Wedding Invitation (USA 2016) Directed by Rainy Kerwin, starring Camille Guaty, Eoin Macken, Christina Ulloa.

Three best friends endure heartbreak, humiliation & hangovers to find a date to the wedding of a lifetime.

DRAMATIC FEATURE FILM, Friday, September 9th, 9:00 PM

The Girl (USA 2014) Directed by Jennifer Blanc-Biehn, starring Michael Biehn, Tia Carrere, Dana Daurey. Director and stars will be in attendance to introduce the film.

A kidnapped girl is rescued by a young boy, and in return is compelled to save him from the horrors in his home.

FAMILY FRIENDLY COMEDY, Saturday, September 10th, 2:30 PM

Pee-wee Finally Gets His Man in Pee-wee’s Big Holiday

Friday, April 1st, 2016

Slate
Pee-wee Finally Gets His Man in Pee-wee’s Big Holiday
By Paul H. Johnson
March 17, 2016

peeweebigholiday

This post contains spoilers for Pee-wee’s Big Holiday.

In the charming Netflix revival Pee-wee’s Big Holiday, Joe Manganiello roars into Pee-wee’s hometown of Fairville on a motorcycle and sweeps Pee-wee off his feet. The pair quickly hit it off over their shared love of Root Beer Barrel candy and tree houses. When Manganiello, playing himself, finds out Pee-wee has never left his small town, he beseeches him to come to Manhattan to attend his birthday party. Pee-wee agrees, but on the way he has some of his trademark wacky adventures. He is kidnapped by a band of butch bank robbers; he tours a snake farm where he is kidnapped by a crazy farmer and nearly forced into marriage (to a woman!); and he gets a makeover by a gaggle of fabulous hairdressers led by Darryl Stephens, the onetime star of the gay-focused Logo network’s sadly departed series Noah’s Arc. And that’s all before he arrives in Manhattan, where he falls into a well when he’s supposed to be at the big birthday party. Luckily, the strapping Manganiello, despondent over Pee-wee’s absence, eventually arrives to rescue our hero.

This is all to say: Pee-wee’s Big Holiday is clearly fan service—if you weren’t already enamored with the goofy, bowtied, breakfast-loving manchild, this won’t help; but if you were, the Netflix update is catnip. Indeed, given the sweetly flirtatious dynamic between Manganiello and Pee-wee, it’s tempting to argue in particular that the movie is a kind of wish fulfillment for fans who grew up with the character and his barely coded queer persona. All of that queerness is basically explicit this time around. But for many decades-long fans, this one included, Pee-wee never had a “gay subtext.” For everyone but the willfully ignorant, it was always just text.

Pee-wee Herman, the character, always trafficked in the language of a certain kind of queer comedy. His jokes often had the same style of innuendo made popular by the likes of Paul Lynde and Bruce Vilanch. As the center square on the game show Hollywood Squares in the 1970s, Lynde was once asked “You’re the world’s most popular fruit. What are you?” to which he answered: “Humble.” In Pee-wee’s Big Holiday, Manganiello is dumbfounded that Pee-wee has never heard of him and asks if he has seen Manganiello’s hit movie Magic Mike, to which Pee-wee responds: “You would think so, but no.” Then, as now, anyone paying attention needs no explanation.

But Pee-wee’s comedy is more than just sly gay suggestion. His persona actively celebrates camp, particularly the kind of camp that elevates the language and style of the 1950s, when gay love was addressed evasively, if at all. While Pee-wee might seem childlike and sexless, his affection for Manganiello can only be called a crush. Pee-wee dreams of jousting with Manganiello using rainbow colored lances, and they exchange friendship bands at the end of the movie while squeezed together in Manganiello’s treehouse. This is what love looks like in Pee-wee’s delicate, but deliberate, mode. And that’s what love looked like to many gay kids like me. We didn’t have any idea what sex was, but we clearly knew we wanted to share a treehouse with that hunky special someone.

Paul Reubens developed Pee-wee while a regular at the Groundlings Theater in Los Angeles in 1970s. The character debuted on The Dating Game in 1979 (he was chosen over two other bachelors), and Reubens soon started a popular midnight weekly show at the Groundlings called the “Pee-wee Herman show,” where he worked with Phil Hartman, Lynne Stewart, John Paragon, Edi McClurg, and John Moody. That show was decidedly adult, even if Pee-wee’s character appeared to be guileless. Pee-wee regularly appeared on the early seasons of Late Night with David Letterman, where he’d bring a box of props containing toys he’d picked up at some flea market, and he’d vamp in front of public service videos from the 1950s.

Of course, Reuben’s biggest moment came in 1985 with Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, directed by a then largely unknown Tim Burton. In Big Adventure, Pee-wee goes on a quest to find his stolen bicycle, a vintage 1950s-era DX Schwinn Straightbar. Fans still lovingly recreate the iconic scene where Pee-wee dances to the song “Tequila” at a biker bar.

Pee-wee’s Playhouse arrived in 1986 as a children’s show, but it was so packed with queer signifiers that it became appointment viewing for many gay men. There was Tito the lifeguard, who rarely if ever saw the need to wear a shirt. Lawrence Fishburne played Cowboy Curtis, Pee-wee’s best friend, who confessed to sleeping in the nude and having “big feet.” And there was the time Pee-wee married a fruit salad, about which very little needs to be said.

Then there was the spectacle that was Pee-wee’s 1988 Christmas special. Not only do gay icons k.d. lang, Little Richard, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Cher, and Dinah Shore make cameos, but Grace Jones, sporting a metallic brassiere, pops out of a box to sing a funky rendition of “Little Drummer Boy.” Oh, and crew of hunky workers construct an addition to the playhouse made out of fruitcake.

In other words, the only way a viewer could not see Pee-wee’s Playhouse as “gay” was to actively ignore the pink signifiers littering its set. Compared to Pee-wee’s full legacy, Manganiello’s tree house and the rainbow stick fighting are the least of it. And what’s more, the thin veil of coyness that did exist is essential to Reubens’ creation: It’s not that Pee-wee is in the closet, it’s that he’s riffing on time where stealth queer wit and suggestive glances were the ultimate subversion. The character is a living artifact, a very funny and slightly sad celebration of another era.

Pee-wee Herman, of course, suffered a swift and brutal fall in 1991, when Reubens was arrested outside an adult movie theater in Sarasota, Fla., accused of indecent exposure. It was a crime for which he was almost certainly innocent. The Los Angeles Times reported at the time that while Reubens pled no contest to the charges, his lawyers disclosed a security video to the prosecution showing “that Reubens was in the lobby when detective William Walters allegedly saw the actor masturbating in the theater.” But the damage was done. CBS canceled reruns of Pee-wee’s Playhouse, Disney and MGM yanked a film where Pee-wee explained how voiceovers are made, and Toys ‘R’ Us removed Pee-wee products from its stores. As a children’s icon, Pee-wee was dead.

Luckily for Pee-wee (and now Netflix), his original fans have grown up, and the affection for him remained. And if anything, his sideways glance has become more indelible. Particularly for gay men who were children in the ‘80s, having Reuben’s subversive queer character vamp on Saturday morning TV was a gift, even if we couldn’t have articulated exactly what we were watching at the time. I had no idea who Grace Jones was, but I loved every second she chewed the scenery. I thought every time that Pee-wee mentioned fruit or fruitcake was hilarious, not knowing that it was all an inside joke. We lost Pee-wee to the madness of the ‘90s cultural wars sex panic (let’s pause for a moment over the absurdity of arresting someone for masturbating inside an adult theater), and the resulting “creepy” taint for audiences less familiar with his original image has been persistent, if unfair. So Pee-wee’s streaming recuperation is well-deserved. Seeing him camp around in 2016 gave me a kind of closure, for Pee-wee finally, in his own way, grows up and meets the root beer barrel candy-loving man of his dreams.

Paul H. Johnson is an attorney and former newspaper reporter for the Record (Bergen County, N.J.)

14 gay-appareled Christmas movies to make your holidays merry and bright

Friday, December 18th, 2015

Dallas Voice
14 gay-appareled Christmas movies to make your holidays merry and bright
Posted on 15 Dec 2015 at 8:39am

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Whether or not the weather outside is frightful, your DVD player is delightful with this fortnight of holiday flicks that appeal to gay and lesbian sensibilities — just in time for our Hollywood issue of movies, coming this Friday.

Home for the Holidays. Claudia Larson (Holly Hunter) navigates dysfunctional family dramedy during her solo trip home for Thanksgiving when her teenage daughter opts out of the year’s celebration. Tensions predictably boil over at the family table, but the weekend is wrapped nicely in a bow when the special guest of Tommy, Claudia’s gay brother, offers a second helping of stuffing. The Jodie Foster-directed Home for the Holidays celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.

Make the Yuletide Gay. Astonishingly, there are few holiday films that feature LGBT characters (this list is fairly comprehensive as a result), let alone films that have gay main characters. But out Texas-native director Rob Williams changed that in 2009 by adding the spritely sweet Make the Yuletide Gay — about an in-the-closet college student (Keith Jordan) whose boyfriend (Adamo Ruggiero) suddenly shows up on his doorstep — to the Christmas-movie canon. MTYG has earned several awards, including Best Narrative Feature at FilmOut San Diego, Festival Favorite at Philadelphia QFest, and the Jury Award for Best Men’s Feature at the Long Island Gay & Lesbian Film Festival.

Holiday Heart. Ving Rhames stars as a Christian drag queen (how’d that fly under your radar until now!?) who takes in a drug addict (Alfre Woodard) and her daughter after his police-officer boyfriend dies. Based on the Cheryl L. West stage play of the same name, this made-for-Showtime movie has an astonishing 92 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Scrooge & Marley. A modern-day variation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, this reimagined version depicts Scrooge as a bitter old queen whose bah-humbug attitude gets a makeover from the ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Future… and Bruce Vilanch.

Love, Actually. Widely regarding as one of the best holiday movies of the new millennium (by straight girls, at least), this romantic comedy told via 10 separate-but-intertwining stories throws the gays a bone with Billy Mack (Bill Nighy) and Joe (Gregor Fisher) — a rock star and his manager, respectively — who decide that getting drunk and watching porn together for Christmas is better than being alone. Because duh. (The writer-director recently revealed he had intended to include a lesbian relationship in the film.)

24 Nights. An unlucky-in-love gay man (Kevin Isola) thinks his new co-worker (Stephen Mailer) may be a gift from Santa Claus himself after making a Christmas wish for a boyfriend. Mental illness works in mysterious ways, y’all. David Burtka — before he was ever a twinkle in NPH’s eye — also stars in this 1999 romantic comedy.

Red Lodge. An impromptu marriage proposal is given at a train station en route to a holiday celebration with family in Montana. In lieu of an engagement ring, there’s a cock ring – because these dudes are classy AF.

Holiday in Handcuffs. There’s not a chance you missed this ABC Family staple that premiered in 2007 – what with all the endless promotion the initial season (Clarissa and A.C. Slater are together on your TV for the first time — watch!) and the subsequent showings during the channels “25 Days of Christmas” schedule. It’s about as well acted as any Melissa Joan Hart/Mario Lopez vehicle should be, but they’re cute, so there’s that.

The Family Stone. As if Carrie Bradshaw’s alter ego, Sarah Jessica Parker, isn’t enough to get you on board with this Home for the Holidays-esque romantic comedy-drama, the brood’s deaf, gay son Thad (Tyrone Giordano) and his interracial partner Patrick (Brian J. White) should be. Plus Dermott Mulroney, Paul Schneider and Luke Wilson!

Too Cool for Christmas. Perhaps the Christmas film with the most interesting backstory, Too Cool for Christmas (a tale about a teenage girl who shuns the reason for the season — and her gay parents — in favor of a ski getaway with friends) actually has a straight-parent companion version that appeared on Lifetime in December 2004. Not much has changed since then — there are still no holiday movies with prominent gay characters on Lifetime — which is why you should support this festive anomaly all the more.

Miracle on 34th Street. Shirley Temple! Do you need another reason?

Holiday Inn. If it’s an Irving Berlin musical, it must be Christmas! There’s a void of LGBT characters in this 1942 black-and-white musical starting Mr. Holiday Bing Crosby and the light-on-his-feet Fred Astaire — well, none that are specifically labeled as such, at least. But we’d be fooling ourselves if we thought there’s nary a nancy-boy singing and dancing around that hotel all day.

Rent. A year in the life of Bohemian New Yorkers set between Christmas Eve 1989 and 1990. You’ll come for the story, but you’ll stay for the soundtrack.

Love the Coopers. Technically you won’t be able to pick up this newly released film on DVD until next year, so instead you’ll have to head to your local cinema to watch yet another dysfunctional family handle the holidays the best way they know how: with binge eating and alcohol. But between bickering and laughing and crying — and more bickering — there’s Anthony Mackie (one of only a handful of black gay characters in a holiday film) as a closeted cop who doles out life advice… even if he should be practicing what he’s preaching.

Bruce Vilanch To Join Post Discussion On Sophie Tucker At Silicon Valley Jewish Film Festival November 8, 2015

Saturday, October 3rd, 2015

JWweekly
David Broza headlines Silicon Valley film festival
by dan pine, j. staff
October 2, 2015

At this year’s Silicon Valley Jewish Film Festival, attendees will see the powerful 2014 documentary “East Jerusalem West Jerusalem,” in which Israeli singer David Broza brings together Israeli, Palestinian and American musical artists to create bridges of understanding. Broza will answer questions and perform after the screening.

“The Outrageous Sophie Tucker” traces the star’s rags-to-riches story.

“The Outrageous Sophie Tucker” traces the star’s rags-to-riches story.


And that’s just the opener. With 25 documentaries, dramas, comedies and children’s films on tap, the festival includes offerings from Israel, France, England, Germany, the United States and more. The films touch on many aspects of the Jewish universe, from the Holocaust to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to Hollywood legend Sophie Tucker.

The 24th annual festival runs Oct. 10 to Nov. 8 at the AMC Saratoga 14 in San Jose and the Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto.

For his part, Broza will answer questions about the making of “East Jerusalem West Jerusalem.” Though ostensibly about the recording of an album, the film underscores the tensions between Israelis and Palestinians, and how fraught it can be simply to make music together, especially in Arab East Jerusalem where the musicians gathered.

“This film is not about painting a rosy picture of Israeli-Palestinian relations,” he told an audience at a screening last year.

Broza (with guitar) made “East Jerusalem West Jerusalem” with diverse musicians.

Broza (with guitar) made “East Jerusalem West Jerusalem” with diverse musicians.


Broza is not the only notable person who will appear at the festival. Director Roberta Grossman will be on hand for the Oct. 25 centerpiece screening of her documentary “Above and Beyond,” which tells the story of a group of World War II-era pilots who went on to fight in Israel’s 1948 War of Independence.

On Nov. 1, screenwriter Sayed Kashua, best known for his Israeli sitcom “Arab Labor,” will attend the screening of his new film, “A Borrowed Identity/Dancing Arabs,” a coming-of-age story about an Israeli Arab youth attending a Jewish boarding school. Kashua will stay for a Q&A after the screening.

Other noteworthy titles in the festival lineup include the Canadian drama about Hassidic life “Félix et Meira,” with an appearance by star Luzer Twersky; “Theodore Bikel: In the Shoes of Sholom Aleichem,” a tribute to the late actor and late folk singer; the taut French thriller “The Art Dealer,” about a woman’s search for family paintings stolen by the Nazis; and the closing-night documentary “The Outrageous Sophie Tucker,” about the famed Jewish star whose career spanned vaudeville and Hollywood. Comedy writer Bruce Vilanch will join others in a post-film discussion.

For ticket information and a complete list of films, dates and venues for the Silicon Valley Jewish Film Festival, go to http://www.svjff.org. — dan pine