Film

Documentary 'The Queens' is a Look at the LGBTQ Subculture of Pageants

After seven years in the making, the documentary The Queens will finally have its premiere in Chicago at the Kit Kat Lounge & Supper Club on January 25, 2018 and in Minneapolis at Honey at Ginger Hop on February 8, 2018. The documentary, which follows the life behind-the-scenes of the Miss Continental Pageant, has been working toward getting production funding for the last several years.

The Queens chronicles the fascinating transgender subculture of competitive female impersonation. A cinematic fusion between Paris is Burning and RuPaul's Drag Race, the documentary takes viewers on an emotional, entertaining and enlightening journey as it follows pageant contestants (past and present) vying for the coveted title of Miss Continental. The film also discusses the importance of this pageant as a foundation for the trans community, drag, and female impersonation. Various RuPaul's Drag Race contestants have participated in Miss Continental including Naysha LopezRoxxxy AndrewsKandy HoJasmine Masters, and Pork Chop among others.

The Queens is a feature-length documentary produced by The Reporters Inc., a nonprofit [501(c)(3)] journalistic production house. They are dedicated to promoting social awareness, encouraging social change and championing social justice through powerful multimedia storytelling.

Here is the film's synopsis:

Using the framework of the 36-year-old Miss Continental Pageant as its backdrop, "The Queens" explores the complex and fascinating transgender subculture of competitive female impersonation entertainers and their driven and dedicated quest for the crown.

We follow the journeys of several contestants as they diligently plan, prepare and plot their paths to victory. Along the way, we meet several former titleholders, as well as some who have repeatedly competed in the pageant but never left victorious (and are perhaps a bit bitter).

But the documentary focuses on more than just the competition. We delve into the whys and hows of the physical alterations they’ve made to their outer bodies (silicone injections, breast implants, facial reconstruction, etc.), their inner bodies (hormone therapies) and their decisions to refrain from following through with sex reassignment surgery, in order to remain true female impersonators and be eligible to compete and perform as such.

We also talk with female impersonators who live their lives as men outside the pageant and performance world, and the occasional tensions between them and those who’ve been surgically enhanced.

We examine the difficulty many have finding true and lasting romantic relationships. We address the rejection many have experienced from family, as well as the changing opinions and acceptance of transgender individuals by society in general today.

Because Miss Continental is so closely linked to the legendary female impersonation nightclub, The Baton, in Chicago (Jim Flint created and owns them both), we take a side trip deep inside this iconic, 48-year-old show lounge. We dig into its storied history, and meet the permanent cast, many of whom are former Miss Continental title-holders themselves. We learn why this is the holy grail of female impersonation, and why many new Continental pageant winners hope their victories will lead to permanent employment there for them, as well.

We reveal the shadier and sadder parts of The Baton’s past—mob and police pay-offs to stay open, drugs, prostitution, AIDS, crime, tragic accidents, and even murder. Several former Baton performers (and Miss Continentals) have met horrible, haunting deaths.

Returning to Continental, we get to the bottom of why winning this crown means so much to those in pursuit of the title, why they see it as a stepping stone to greater fame, fortune and success, and–yes–how it’s also a cut-throat competition where occasional acts of sabotage have been known to take place.

You’ll be awestruck by the amount of time and money spent (on makeup, costumes, wigs, backup dancers and more) to win this crown. The contestants shimmer and seduce, titillate and twirl. The glitz, the glamour, the talent and the beauty on display here rival—no–put the Miss America and Miss USA pageants to shame!

With thousands in the audience cheering, there are tears of joy for those who perform well under the Miss Continental stage lights; when the show ends, there are tears of heartbreak in the shadows for those who fared poorly.

To some outsiders, and the uninformed, the dolled-up, lip-synched routines at both Miss Continental and The Baton might seem frivolous, perhaps even pointless, after a few viewings. But "The Queens" will show you why creating this illusion and this mystique are a way of life for–not only these performers–but for thousands of others just like them (and their devoted fans) across the United States.

Year after year, decade after decade, the show simply must go on.

Take a look at the trailer here:

 

 

 

'Call Me By Your Name' Could Become A Series of Films

Great news for Call Me By Your Name fans! The film that has been making audiences swoon time and time again could be seeing some follow-up films that will chronicle the lives of Elio and Oliver post-the original cinematic story. The film was adapted from the novel Call Me By Your Name by author André Aciman, but opted to end the story where it did. But since the acclaim and award nominations the film is receiving, director Luca Guadagnino is seriously considering bringing taking these two characters to their original heights in the novel and finishing this story with more films. Sequel? Trilogy? The film made tons of money for such a small release!

Guadagnino spoke with The Guardian and shared some thoughts about this topic:

These characters are so fantastic, and I want to know what happens to them. The last 40 pages of the book tell you about 20 years in the life of Oliver and Elio. So I started to think about Michael Apted’s Up, and the cycle of films Truffaut devoted to the character of Antoine Doinel. And I thought, maybe it’s not a question of sequel, it’s a question of chronicling everyone in this film. I think seeing these characters growing in the bodies of these actors will be quite fantastic.

Nothing has been confirmed just yet, but since Guadagnino has mentioned even this much, it’s enough to get excited! This film is the stuff I fawned over while in film school, gut-wrenching, raw, uncomfortable at times—but beautiful. I think what really did this, though, is Timothée Chalamet’s and Armie Hammer’s performances that swept us off our feet! And those nude scenes? OMG! It’s difficult when such an important film gets a sequel or follow-up films, however—it’s dangerous territory and this could ruin the characters.

What do you think? Should Call Me By Your Name get a series of films or should it be left as the cult LGBT masterpiece that it is?

And if you haven’t seen this film—how can you even start your 2018?

 

Also, check out Orbitz.com and its Call Me By Your Name Sweepstakes.

Orbitz and the hit new movie Call Me By Your Name want to send you to Italy!
Other prizes include a private movie screening and signed swag.
Enter Now

Jim Parsons to Star in Film Adaptation of 'Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies'

TVLine Editor-In-Chief Michael Ausiello wrote the memoir "Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies" about his life with late husband Kit Cowan, who was diagnosed with terminal neuroendocrine cancer in 2014. The critic describes the last eleven months of Cowan's life and the rollercoaster ride of being by his side, marrying him, taking him to and from doctor visits--all while dealing with the love/hate emotions that come with such a complex time. You'll need more than a box of tissues if you're going to read it!

Now, after just being released this year, the best selling book has been optioned to be turned into a film. The book has seen great success and is in its fourth printing!

But that's not all--the story has been optioned by none other than Big Bang Theory's Jim Parson and his husband Todd Spiewak's company That's Wonderful Productions. Parsons and Spiewak will be producers of the film and Ausiello will be Executive Producer. Parsons will also star in the film--perhaps an Oscar-worthy role?

No word yet on who will adapt the book for the screen, who will direct or who will co-star in the film.

If you haven't read Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies, go online, head to the bookstore or the library and check it out--then cry until the film comes out.

 

Gay Filmmaker Jeffrey Schwarz On His New Documentary About Legendary Producer Allan Carr

LA-based, openly gay filmmaker Jeffrey Schwarz, 48, makes documentaries. You might have seen his 2015 film Tab Hunter Confidential (now streaming on Netflix).

Schwarz cut his professional teeth working for legendary doc duo Robert Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman (who won Oscars for Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt and The Times of Harvey Milk). I met him years ago when I was in film school and spent a semester interning on The Celluloid Closet (1995). Schwarz had the enviable job of listening to and transcribing celebrity interviews with people like Cher, Susan Sarandon and Tony Curtis (who said some pretty gnarly things about working with Marilyn Monroe on the Billy Wilder classic Some Like It Hot).

I published an initial interview with Schwarz back in September about his new documentary The Fabulous Allan Carr, but below are further excerpts from our phone Q&A.

Carr just completed a national and international film festival run this past weekend and Schwarz told me additional distribution on cable and via streaming is being worked out now

Allan Carr was the flamboyant and legendary entertainment producer responsible for movies like Grease and Can’t Stop the Music, as well as the Broadway smash La Cage Au Folles. Schwarz said he made the film “to celebrate” Carr.

The notorious opening number to the 1989 Oscars he produced basically ended his career. What that homophobia, an excuse to use his gayness against him?

Jeffrey Schwarz: There are a lot of people who didn’t like Allan Carr very much. He was too much, too outrageous, too gay. And the opening number was designed to be over the top, to be camp, to be outrageous and ridiculous. We didn’t talk about this in the movie, but it was inspired by the San Francisco show Beach Blanket Babylon.

The creator of Beach Blanket Babylon was Allan’s creative partner. It’s a gay aesthetic, a gay approach. It’s camp.  

It does smack a bit of homophobia to me that people thought it was just too out there and may be disrespectful to Hollywood. But I don’t see it that way at all. It’s such a celebration and a love of Hollywood. I do think homophobia played a role. But I can’t prove that. But that’s my sense. 

After that he was really persona non grata. When you have a failure like that nobody wants to associate with you. He went into withdrawal for quite some time after that. He never, with the exception of the 20th anniversary re-release of Grease, which was a big success, he never really had another success.

Do you feel like a producer of a “bad” Oscars show today would be punished similarly?

I don’t know. I think we’ve seen some fumbles over the years but we’re still talking about Allan Carr’s Oscars all these years later. I hope this film redeems it in some sense and people will look back at it and say, “Hey, that was actually pretty bold, and pretty ballsy.”

You’ve made a lot of documentaries. Does your body of work have a theme?

“Be true to yourself” is a theme. “Accept who you are and try to leave a legacy.”

I’m really kind of driven to find stories about people or events in the past that have been marginalized or [are] on the verge of being forgotten. Like Vito Russo. Such a dynamic force, he changed our world.

I make these movies to bring these people, drag them out of their graves, and tell their stories and empower people. I think they are all stories of empowerment. 

If you could wave a magic wand and make any project you wanted, it would be?

I would like to do this for the rest of my life. I’d like to make movie after movie after movie. It wouldn’t be one specific project it would just be given the privilege to keep doing what I’m doing.

Who are some of your important influences and why?

Rob Epstein is a major influence. I saw his film The Times of Harvey Milk when I was in college, when I was coming out. And that was one of the first, if not the first documentary I saw about our history. And I am just devastated by it every time I see it. The storytelling, the way the story unfolds, the compassion, the humanity, the anger in the movie is, it’s incredible. And he’s also a trailblazer for being openly gay very early on in his career. He was just always interested in just being true to himself and telling stories about our community. Word is Out is an early film he was involved with and Harvey Milk. So I’d say Rob is probably a real inspiration to me. I got to work for him. My first job was working with him on Celluloid Closet back in the 90s.

Is there any particular message in your film for LGBTQ audiences?

I don’t make the films for the LGBT audience. I make them because I want these stories to be out in the world. But I don’t want them to be limited to an LGBT audience.

All my films have premiered at non-gay festivals. I feel that it’s a way to create empathy and understanding outside our community. Like the Tab Hunter film was a film that talked very explicitly about gay themes to audiences who already loved Tab Hunter. Maybe older people who loved Tab but didn’t know that side of him, so it’s a way for straight audiences to be gently led down this path of understanding. Tab’s story, that was one of the reasons I wanted to do that movie, was to share his story with people of another generation, and younger people who didn’t know his story.

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'Love, Simon' Will Be First Major Film With Gay Teen Romance

We’ve all felt those butterflies in our stomach at the anticipation of getting a response to a note, a text, a phone call, an email or even just a look across the room from that one special someone our heart desires. Throw the complexity of being closeted into the mix and you have yourself a tornado of emotions that is indescribable and weird. For many of us, we’ve experienced this in our teenage years—you know, that awkward stage when nothing fits right, nothing looks good, you are so disinterested and you just want to fit in, but stand out, all with being left alone. And you surround yourself with friends who share in these same narratives, who you can trust and confide in and who sometimes turn around and betray that trust. Oh, to be a young gay boy again!

2018 will bring the arrival of the first major studio gay teen romance to theaters says Entertainment Weekly. In March, 20th Century Fox will release Love, Simon, a film about a teenager who begins a back and forth online relationship with another closeted student in his school. The film is based on Becky Albertalli’s hit YA novel Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda.

Love, Simon stars Nick Robinson, Josh Duhamel, and Jennifer Garner and comes from the same producers of The Fault in Our Stars. The film is set in a typical high school setting that will give you major nostalgia and focuses on themes of identity, coming out, friendship and love. It’s a story that is mixed with emotions, as high school tends to be, but that is pivotal in the way stories are portrayed for the LGBTQIA community and for the youth. Think modern day and progressive Pretty in Pink, Sixteen Candles, and Breakfast Club!

Here’s a look at sneak peek at Love, Simon

 

 

Entertainment Weekly has First Look images at the film that will give us the first pair of gay leading teens. Coming out in March 2018!

   

New Mexican Documentary Shows Baja California's Fight For Marriage Equality

 Award-Winning documentary "No Dress Code Required" will open theatrically in New York City this coming Friday, November 3 with a national release to follow.

 

Directed by Cristina Herrera Borquez, the film won best documentary at the Palm Springs International Film Festival, and was an official selection of both the Human Rights Watch Film Festival and Outfest, LA's annual gay film fest.

The doc follows the story of Victor and Fernando, who run a beauty salon in Baja California, Mexico. For many of their longtime customers they are a lovely gay couple -- until they decided to tie the knot.

Even though the Mexican Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in June 2015, the city of Mexicali actively defies their nation's court order, preventing Victor and Fernando from marrying.

"No Dress Code Required" is a powerful, emotional story of two men in love fighting for what they want, learning how people they've come to know and love actually feel -- and enlightening the community in which they live. #DownWithHomophobia

Running time: 91 minutes / Not Rated / In Spanish (with English subtitles)

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"Tom of Finland" Biopic Expands Its Reach

Finland's 2018 Academy Award submission for best foreign film, "Tom of Finland," a well-made, if rather tame, biopic of the legendary gay artist, has been held over for longer regional runs in theaters in New York, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco.

And starting November 3rd, moviegoers can see the Finnish production (with English subtitles) across the United States in the following cities:

Harkins Valley Art – Tempe, AZ – November 3, 2017
Classic Gateway 4 – Ft. Lauderdale, FL – November 3, 2017
Cinema 21 – Portland, OR – November 3,  2017
Tower – Salt Lake City, UT – November 10, 2017
Parkway Theatre – Baltimore, MD – November 24, 2017

Landmark Ritz at the Bourse – Philadelphia, PA – November 24, 2017
Landmark Chez Artiste – Denver, CO – December 1, 2017
Angelika Film Center (Dallas) – Dallas, TX – December 1, 2017
Landmark E Street Cinema – Washington, DC – December 8, 2017
Landmark Midtown Art Cinema – Atlanta, GA – December 8, 2017
Landmark Lagoon Cinema – Minneapolis, MN – December 8, 2017
Landmark Kendall Square Cinema – Boston, MA – December 15, 2017

The film stars Pekka Strang as Touko Laaksonen, a Finnish soldier in World War II who dreams of being an artist, Lauri Tilkanen, a handsome thirty-something dancer, and Jessica Grabowsky as his sexually-frustrated sister who also draws but doesn't believe she's any good. Anyone sensing love triangle? Just sayin'.

"Tom of Finland" was an official selection at Outfest and the TriBeCa International Film Festival, amongst other film festivals worldwide.

Both the director, Dome Karukoski, and lead actor are straight, yet sensitively bring to life the controversial and sexually provocative artist who became known the world over, especially to horny young gay men, as Tom of Finland. The influential power of ToF's drawings are brought to life in a heartfelt, amusing sequence in the middle of the film. Let's just say an American gay teen wants to look and live like Kake, one of the artist's most famous characters, and does everything he can to make it happen.

Karukoski is currently directing "Tolkien," a biopic of yet another artist, "The Lord of The Rings" and "The Hobbit" author J.R.R. Tolkien.

Running Time: 114 Minutes/ Language: Finnish With English Subtitles

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Thor Ragnorak Will Show First Gay Character in Marvel Movies

via Entertainment Weekly

Thor Ragnorak is the next Marvel movie to come around the corner and it looks like it’ll include a gay hero.

Gay characters have existed in the Marvel Cinematic Universe through the tv shows. For instance, Jeri Hogarth in Jessica Jones and Iron Fist was a multi-layered lesbian character and lawyer who assisted the heroes in their legal battles.

That said, because Kevin Feige doesn’t want to deal with Ike Perlmutter (the head of Marvel comics and TV), any real connection between the tv shows and movies are lost.

So, this new character that’ll show up in Thor Ragnorak will be the first real gay character in the movies.

But who is the character? He’s a rock alien named Korg that kind of looks like The Thing from the Fantastic Four except maybe with a little more rock....

Credit: Marvel Comics

You see, Thor Ragnorak is intertwining its own story with that of “Planet Hulk.” Thor Ragnorak sees the Norse God as a captive on a planet and forced to fight others (like Hulk) in an intergalactic colosseum. “Planet Hulk” was a storyline in the mid-2000s in which Hulk was a captive on a planet and forced to fight others... Get the drift?

During the “Planet Hulk” storyline, Hulk befriended a group of alien warriors known as the Warbound. Within that group were the rock-like Korg and a one-armed alien named Hiroim. It was later revealed that the two were a couple.

It has also been revealed that Korg is in Thor Ragnorak and will be an ally to Thor. Korg will be performed by Taika Waititi, the director, himself through motion capture.

Thor Ragnorak / Credit: Marvel

The question is? Will the character’s sexuality be mentioned or even shown through his romance with fellow teammate Hiroim?

We’ll see October 25 when Thor Ragnorak releases.

h/t: NewNowNext

FIRST LOOK: Rami Malek Is Stunning As Freddy Mercury in "Bohemian Rhapsody" Film

via Entertainment Weekly

The first look at Rami Malek as late gay icon Freddy Mercury is a jaw dropper.

Even Malek himself has said that seeing himself look so much like the late Queen frontman (though perhaps with less chest hair than the original) was a surprise.

“When you’re able to open your eyes and see a different person staring back at you in the mirror,” Malek said when he spoke to Entertainment Weekly about his first time in hair and makeup, “it’s a very affirming moment.”

This is the first time that Malek's look as Mercury in the upcoming biopic titled Bohemian Rhapsody has been released.

 

 

What’s known about the movie so far is that it will follow Queen starting from 1970, during which Mercury teamed with Brian May and Roger Taylor, up to right before the band’s performance at Live Aid in 1985 (part of which you can watch below).

Tragically, six years after the concert Freddie Mercury died of complications from the disease.

But, as much as Malek resembles the singer, what’s important to the film is if the singing will sound the same.

Bryan Singer, who’s directing the film, has announced that it will be music focused as a way to honor the singer’s contribution to music over all. And, in order to do that there will be a mixture of Malek singing, a singing-double, and recordings of Mercury.

Bohemian Rhapsody is currently in pre-production and is scheduled to come out December 25, 2018.

 

 

Gay Singer Troye Sivan To Star in Gay Conversion Film "Boy Erased"

Screenshot: Youtube @Martin Garrix

Out Australian pop singer Troye Sivan has just bagged a role in the upcoming gay conversion movie.

The movie, titled Boy Erased, is the film adaption of a 2016 memoir by Garrard Conley titled Boy Erased: A Memoir of Identity, Faith, and Family.

Along with Sivan, the film has just cast Cherry Jones of 24 and Michael “Flea” Balzary from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers.

The three will be joining Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe who will be a Baptist pastor and his wife from a small American town. Their son, Lucas Hedges, will be outed by his parents at the age of 19, and then forced to go through conversion therapy.

Nothing’s known about the roles Sivan and the other new cast-mates will be playing.

But, this won’t be the first time the “Fools” and “Youth” singer graced the silver screen. His first credit went to appearing in the 2009 X-Men Origins: Wolverine (but perhaps everyone just wanted to forget that movie existed).

Boy Erased will start up its production in the fall and release in 2018.

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