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The 12th annual Tribeca Film Festival, is usually judged by the film industry as to how many of its 89 features get picked up for theatrical or other mechanisms for public viewing, though over two dozen either came in with or had distribution by the end. But among the 53 world premieres, six international premieres, 15 North American premieres, five U.S. premieres, and nine New York premieres, with 24 in competition and the rest spread through categories of “Spotlight”, “Viewpoints”, “Midnight”, and various special events, were unheralded gems that you may only get to see at other film festivals, in the U.S. and abroad. Keep a look out for these recommendations:
Coming Out in Plain Sight
The timely theme of gay men affirming feelings that overwhelm their other relationships was movingly delineated in reality and realistic fiction. BIG JOY: The Adventures of James Broughton for the first time fully documents the colorful life and work of the literary and cinematic pioneer who created a path of rebellion and self-fulfillment. Rare archival material traces Broughton’s editorial leadership in the 1940’s San Francisco Renaissance movement of experimental dancers, painters, photographers, and poets that has been too-neglected as a precursor to the Beats.
Directors Eric Slade and Stephen Silha (a long-time Broughton friend) not only got permission to select from the complete trove of his extraordinary output of exuberant writings and erotic avant-garde shorts, but also factually and emotionally revealing interviews with friends who vividly evoke the difficulties of coming out before the Summer of Love, his ex-wife, son, and his much younger husband, who proudly takes credit for seducing and liberating his teacher to let loose Broughton’s hedonistic pan-media celebration of phallic symbols. Even discovered was audio of the doyenne of film critics Pauline Kael frankly musing on their youthful romance that didn’t fail just because he thought she was too critical of his work, though their daughter’s absence here is glaring. With the title from his poem that interviewees joyously share quoting, further festival screenings will mark Broughton’s centennial over the next year, accompanied by poetry readings, showings of his films, and reissues of his many books.
Two fiction features keenly showed that the gay liberation Broughton helped forge in the U.S. is still difficult for individuals to reconcile elsewhere in the world. Film Movement has picked up director Arvin Chen’s sweet and amusing Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow that sensitively depicts a married 30-something Taiwanese couple reeling from the husband’s coming-out partying, while Poland’s first LGBT film was considerably darker. Writer/director Tomasz Wasilewski sets Floating Skyscrapers at the fraught homoerotic-as-it-is-homophobic juncture of athletics (here a swim team aiming for the Olympics) within Eastern Europe financial difficulties that limit a young man’s options. As Kuba, Mateusz Banasiuk’s casually sensual performance in and out of the pool (and his clothes) anchors the film, first when he comfortably enjoys his saucy live-in girlfriend Sylvia (Marta Nieradkiewicz), and when flirtations with handsome Michal (Bartosz Gelner) irrevocably turns on a switch inside him. Though the vengeful reactions of his women scorned are bitchily paralleled with macho strangers’ hateful violence, the cinematography is as dreamy as the title, yet depressingly realistic of the miasma that traps him.
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