Every avid moviegoer has their favorite comfy spot. Their go to seat that continually pulls them towards it, like a first-grader’s tongue does upon spotting an open jar of paste. That might not be the most appropriate simile to help accent my point, but it was the first one I thought of, and being that I’m writing this post at 2 in the morning, it’s the one I’m sticking with. Where was I? Ah yes, the comfy spot.
My comfy spot is usually in the first or second row. I enjoy sitting there mostly because that’s where I can easily become immersed with what I’m viewing without any peripheral distractions. Oh sure, there are those few times that I have been known to settle for a seat further back, or even off to the side on the dreaded aisle, but that only happens when I am accommodating a family member or a friend. However, there is one section of the theatre that I will never intentionally seek out. One section where if asked to sit there by a friend, family member or Michael fucking Caine that I will not sit in. I’m talking about that god forsaken last row.
With that being said, for this entire festival I plan to force myself to resist those instinctual tongue-to-paste urges of mine – which have been steering my buttocks towards the front row for over the past decade - and will be taking up residence in the back of the house. That godforsaken last row.
Tonight’s films, from which I took in from the rear (pun most definitely intended in honor of this festival) were Meredith Heil‘s Whistlin’ Dixie: Queer Sounds, New South, Harriet Hirshorn and Katherine Linton‘s Mississippi: I am, as well as the shorts program, Mystery date. Click on the jump for reviews
Whistlin’ Dixie: Queer Sounds, New South
There’s no question that director, Meredith Heil, is ambitious. Her quest to put together a mixtape of influential LGBT artists – by meeting each and every band – deserves, at the very least, a round of applause. The main issue I had with this short was that aside from recognizing the diverse music being played (folk, punk, rap, country, bluegrass) the movie did little to show what makes these artists so special, musically speaking. Well, there was one small clip of a spoon-clicking, saw-bending Midtown Dickens performance, but that was about it. I understand that with over 10 musicians in the movie, that feat would have been merely impossible to accomplish in such a small time. Instead, the movie focuses on the impact and voice these artists provided for those who identify themselves with the LGBT community, as was shown through the road trip/mixtape format in which this movie was shot.
It would have been interesting to see what could have been done had the running time been more than 30 minutes. I’m thinking something along the lines of the ultimate LGBT concert documentary where the music would have more room to breathe and speak for itself and the artists could share pieces of who they were in between songs.
Mississippi: I Am
Can San Franciscans be jaded and take things for granted living in a city with the largest open gay population? Duh. Although there are exceptions, I have to believe that growing up gay in San Francisco couldn’t possibly compare to the hardships that gay youths have to face in Mississippi. Harriet Hirshon and Katherine Linton‘s documentary explores these hardships by focusing on some very courageous youths who have opted to stand their ground and fight for what they believe in out of love for themselves and their home state rather than flee to say, San Francisco.
If the purpose of this block of shorts were to showcase potential feature-length films than almost every one of these should be green lit. The theme of these shorts are very much rooted in mystery, with occasional flourishes of horror done well enough to keep me on the edge of my last row seat. Almost all of the music, acting and photography are spot on, complimenting their scripts nicely. The only fault I found was in the overly saturated green screened gothic movie, Ursula’s Victory, which thankfully played at the end. Aside from that one bump in the road, most everything else ended with me wanting more, more, more. My favorite of the bunch, the cross-dressing vigilante ass kicking that was Silver Stiletto. Please, oh please, Mr. Luke Mayze, make that one into a feature-length film.