Scroll To Top

The Tops of

The Tops of

One of the nation's premier film festivals doesn't disappoint as being a launching pad for some of the best LGBT films of the coming year.

The Tribeca Film Festival crept north of its namesake downtown Manhattan neighborhood this past edition, clogging Union Square and the Village with badge-wearing attendees. But one thing the youthful fest didn't get away from was its status as desired launching pad for a handful of LGBT titles.

This year, two locally significant documentaries took center stage: one on pop artist Keith Haring, and one honoring the late, great Squeezebox. From the mid-90s to 2001, Squeezebox was New York's premiere queer rock club, where drag queens not only abandoned the lip synch but had live guitars grinding behind them. Numerous established acts played the weekly event, while new ones, including goth-glam rockers Psychotica and a German transsexual named Hedwig, first graced its stage. In Zach Shaffer and Steve Saporito's Squeezebox! documentary, extensive archival footage and interviews are framed by TV clips of Mayor Rudy Giuliani, whose nightlife-quashing ''quality of life'' campaign was a constant threat. It's a fitting tribute and valentine -- with middle finger raised, thank you. Off-screen, a raucous party saw many of the party's familiar faces reunite, including Mistress Formika, John Cameron Mitchell and Debbie Harry.

Director Christina Clausen's The Universe of Keith Haring mines the pop artist's life via an impressive collection of footage and voices. It's not always flattering, especially Haring's laughably pretentious, early School of Visual Arts video performance pieces (in one, a tribute to his father, he speaks in morse code), while many of Haring's surviving friends and family members expound upon his brief yet prolific existence and work, including Bill T. Jones, Kenny Scharf, and Fab 5 Freddy. It's fascinating, and a compulsory viewing, but Clausen's attempts to steer clear of PBS style, through flashy sound effects that punctuate the talking heads, make it irritatingly MTV-style instead. And, sadly, while Haring's close friend Madonna appears in archival materials -- including priceless footage of her first public appearance, wearing a Haring-painted outfit to boot -- no new interview is included.

There was modern day Madonna at Tribeca nonetheless, and as with the music charts, she went head to head with Mariah Carey on the film lineup. Madge swung by in the flesh (to many a paparazzi popping) with her Malawi documentary, I Am Because We All Are, while Carey played a singer in the drama, Tennessee.

As with this year's Shelter, gay surfers ride the waves of sexual awakening in the Australia-set Newcastle. First time feature director Dan Castle (once of gay film distribution company, Jour De Fete) peppers Miramax-like drama -- family conflict! coming of age! a past tragedy that taints the present! - with more pulchritudinous young male nudity than Mel Roberts could fever dream. A young man's sexual awakening also informed writer/director Christopher Weekes' ensemble piece, Bitter & Twisted. And queer supporting characters appeared in foreign titles 57,000 Miles, and Whatever Lola Wants.

Tom Kalin's eagerly awaited Savage Grace, in which Julianne Moore one-ups Pink Flamingos' Dawn Davenport in expressing love for her son, screened. But one of the year's most under-the-radar titles in regard to queer content or read was Swedish import, Let the Right One In. Winner of the festival's Founders Award for Best Narrative Feature, director Tomas Alfredson's arthouse horror flick imagines a love story between preteen Oskar, a little bullied boy, and Eli, a little girl who is not only a vampire, but likely not even a girl. The film (and John Ajvide Lindqvist's source novel) alludes to the possibility Eli is actually male, and when Eli informs Oskar of this detail, it makes no difference to the lovestruck boy (according to hearsay, the possibility of casting a boy as Eli was bandied about by the filmmakers). That's progress for you!

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

Lawrence Ferber