Op-ed: Why LGBT Film Fests Deserve Your Love

BearCity and BearCity 2: The Proposal star Gerald McCullouch talks about the value of the LGBT film fest circuit to sharing our stories.

BY Gerald McCullouch

September 26 2012 3:00 AM ET

Gerald McCullouch on set with Richard Riehle, left, and Joe Conti, center, just moments before the bat invaded  the “picture house.”

I’m writing during a flight from Oslo to Los Angeles after I, along with one of my very talented co-stars — Stephen Guarino — introduced BearCity 2: The Proposal at the prestigious Oslo Gay Lesbian Film Festival in Norway. Two years ago, the first film, BearCity, won the Audience Award for Best Feature Film at the OGLFF/Skeive Filmer, so it seemed fitting for the second film to have its Eurpoean Premier at that same festival.

The worldwide LGBT film festival ciruit is a uniquely memorable experience; there are hundreds of domestic and international festivals. From New York to San Francisco. From Atlanta to Chicago to Seattle to Honolulu. And from Portland to Rochester and Austin and Albuquerque. From France to South Africa to Belgium. From Montreal to Brussels and Hamburg and Budapest. From Sydney and Melbourne to Bangalore, Florence, London and Amsterdam. From Serbia to Ecuador and San Paulo to New Delhi and Hong Kong. And many, many others.

Worldwide, these festivals offer an array of short films, feature films, narratives, documentaries, and everything in between. Many of these stories will never have an audience beyond the film festival circuit. And each of these stories reveals unique experiences that make up the fabric of our worldwide community. Stories that need to be seen. And voices from around the globe that should be heard.

Almost as impacting as the films themselves is the collective experience these festivals engender: theatres filled with hundreds of like-minded Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual and Transgender individuals. And many straight allies as well. Opening and Closing night parties. Meet and greet mixers with filmmakers from around the globe. Panel discussions. Q & A’s.

I’m so honored that BearCity 2; The Proposal is included amongst the stories that comprise this year’s festival films. We had our world premier as part of Los Angeles’s LGBT film festival — OutFest  — where the first film won the Best Screenplay Award and won Stephen Gaurino the Best Actor Award. So similar to Oslo, and a handful of experiences I’ve mentioned in previous columns, our Outfest Premier seemed like kismet was at play once again.

OutFest is one of the world’s most celebrated LGBT film festivals. This year they joined with the NYC sister festival NewFest to become the nation’s leading programmer of LGBT films. And it’s an honor that my first feature film as co-executive producer received its world premier as part of their landmark 30th year anniversay.

The day before the premier I had the opportunity to again appear on Frank DeCaro’s Sirius Radio show , but this time I was joined by the film’s writer/director Doug Langway and Richard Riehle, who co-stars in the film as the father of my young love (Joe Conti). I have been a fan of Richard’s for as long as I can remember. To be sitting in a radio studio with him, laughing and sharing anecdotes of working together, was extraordinary. And to share that experience with Doug, the man who has had such an impact on my life and career, rocked.

Following the interview, Andrew Sullivan, who rarely reviews films, gave us some wildly impressive recognition on his blog, The Daily Dish, after seeing one of the film’s previews in Provincetown.

And that same night Kathy Najimy scored a home run in her winning interview on Chelsea Lately where she not only educated Chelsea and her audience on the Bear Community – propping silver foxes to panda bears – but showed a scene from the film shot on the very night I mentioned in a previous column when the bat came into our main “picture house” and caused such a ruckus.

The adventure of our premiere was outstanding. For this little project that we’ve spent countless hours bringing into fruition to be embraced by such unrestrained laughter and then quieted by completely contrasting sniffles, under the stars of Los Angeles, in the matchless Ford Amphitheater, was unforgettable.

After our July 20 premier we had a very limited one day engagement at the iconic Castro Theatre in San Francisco where the San Francisco Examiner wrote “BearCity 2 is the sequel that Sex and the City 2 wished it was.” And after San Francisco we had a limited engagement in Toronto during the Toronto International Film Festival, which got held over for an additional week. And on September 28, we have our NYC Premier at the Cinema Village followed by its limited NYC theatrical release.

Combined with film festivals, these limited engagements at small art houses are the vehicles for our stories to reach their audiences. In my first column, I mentioned Provincetown being a “if you haven’t, you must” experience. The same goes for the LGBT film festivals. I promise you’ll be hooked. Support your local festival, as well as your local art house theatre. Our stories need your support. And we promise our stories, and the experience of these festivals, will stay with you for years to come. 

 

GERALD McCULLOUCH is an award-winning filmmaker best known for playing “Bobby Dawson” on CSI for 10 seasons and for his critically acclaimed performance as "Roger" in BearCity. He's recently guest starred on House, Bones, NCIS, Law & Order: SVU and Law & Order: CI and was honored by OUT magazine as one of the  most compelling people of the year in last year’s OUT 100. His production company, Hard G Productions, currently has a spectrum of projects, including All Male All Nude (a feature documentary and series on one of America's gay strip clubs), an Atlanta based episodic entitled B&B, an animated feature entitled Froggot, and the film version of the hit play Daddy in which he also starred receiving critical praise in both the NYC and LA productions. Follow Gerald on Twitter @ItsAHardG. Follow BearCity 2 on Twitter at @BearCity. Check out the website www.BearCity2.com.

For a complete list of upcoming screening of the movie, see the second page.

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