Day Nine: Six Hot Films, Two Parties, and One More Day
Meredith Kadlec and JD Disalvatore
Tuesday, May 04, 2004
Wow! What an amazing day at the festival. The films that screened covered an incredibly broad range, from poignant doc to trans shorts to lesbian soft core, to a film so chock full of acting talent, it makes your head spin.
Andrew Litvack’s MERCI…DR. REY screened in Ft. Lauderdale last night to a sold-out audience that included filmmakers, press, and several members of Litvack’s family, including brother, father and charming grandmother. The film, which, we’re proud to say, is being distributed by here! Films, details the rocky and funny relationship between a self-centered opera diva and her phone sex-addicted son. When the son accidentally witnesses his own father’s death, he embarks on an adventure that includes sex, pot brownies, blackmail, guns, and a dead psychotherapist. This campy romp of a mystery stars – check this out – Dianne Wiest, Simon Callow, Joan Plowright, Jane Birkin as a quirky woman who thinks she’s Vanessa Redgrave, and the ACTUAL Vanessa Redgrave, in a hilarious turn as “a version of herself.” (The montage of memorable Vanessa cinema moments is priceless.)
The film is a Merchant-Ivory production, with producing help from Ismail Merchant in particular, for whom Litvack worked for a number of years. When asked in the Q&A after the film what it was like to be a first-time writer/director working with such talented actors, Litvack said, “They were easy. These are easy actors to work with.” As for how he managed to afford this cadre of talent, Litvack said that the actors worked fairly inexpensively. The audience ate up such insider dish as the story about Vanessa and her wardrobe. Vanessa, who appears in one scene, apparently finished shooting and then left the set still wearing the designer tux from the scene. Said Litvack, “I remember she was on the way to a political protest, and I thought, ‘Who goes to a political protest wearing a tux?’”
At a celebratory dinner at Brasserie Las Olas before the screening, which included Litvack’s family, here! TV’s Mark Reinhart, Out Magazine Senior Editor Jeffrey Epstein, Festival publicist Jim Dobson and others, Litvack revealed that the inspiration for the story was his own family, and it seemed fitting that the last comment in the Q&A was Andrew’s grandmother saying, “I’m very proud.”
Also screening today was DANGEROUS LIVING: COMING OUT IN THE DEVELOPING WORLD, directed by legendary documentarian John Scagliotti (BEFORE STONEWALL, AFTER STONEWALL.) This incredibly important documentary gives an amazing look at the LGBT experiences and struggles in such countries as Thailand, India, Pakistan, Honduras and Kenya. It is a powerful reminder that the push for gay rights and gay equality is a global one.
OUT IM KINO, the fabulous Maneula Kay doc on the history of queer cinema, had a second screening today as well.
The last of the shorts programs also screened. ISN’T IT OBVIOUS? is a collection of shorts about trans and gender issues, and included three great shorts: GLITTER GIRLS by Hedda Muskat, XX TO XY: FIGHTING TO BE JAKE by Emily Atef, and ISN’T IT OBVIOUS? by Michelle Prevost, a moving reminder of the power and necessity of understanding people different from ourselves.
The evening included two screenings with after-parties. First up was Helen Lesnick’s INESCAPABLE, billed as “lesbian soft-core erotica with a plot!” Lesnick, who directed fest favorite A FAMILY AFFAIR, brings us more girl-on-girl action than we’ve seen in a long time, and while the film stops short of being an outright porno, it has plenty of steamy content. Producer Valerie Pichney was on hand to answer questions about the actors (this was the first feature for all of them), the budget (an amazingly low $65K) and the experience of finding actors who not only can act, but who will also be fearless with the sex (“it’s not easy”). No doubt this film, which had its world premiere tonight, will be VERY popular with the ladies on its festival tour. Meeee-ow! The after-party at Ft. Lauderdale lesbian hot spot Elements was packed with filmmakers, actors and supporters from the festival.
Meanwhile, the much-anticipated doc NAKED FAME, directed by Christopher Long, also debuted. The film is a fascinating look at the life of former porn star Colton Ford, who is now building a successful music career, and his long-term relationship with partner Blake Harper. It’s inspirational to watch Ford bravely shift career paths after forty, while battling the stigma of being an adult film star, and to see how much tenderness and love he and his partner share. It also doesn’t hurt that these guys are easy on the eyes. Believe it – for a couple of lesbians to tell you two men are really sexy, they have to be REALLY sexy.
We have a really packed last day of the festival to get ready for, including the closing night gala, so check back for our final report from the sixth annual Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival.
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