We appreciate the playful attitude of the posters for the 3rd annual Gay/Lesbian Film Festival, with their rhinestone-studded, faintly Dame Edna-esque spectacles. We also like the event's tagline ("Do You Like to Watch?"), which is as funny as it is naughty. But most of all, we admire the assortment of films offered this year, which range from documentaries about same-sex marriage and trouble with the Boy Scouts of America to the award-winning A Boy Named Sue and even a claymation piece.
"This year looks really good," says Barb Lee, one of the organizers for this weekend's event. "We weigh a number of things in choosing the films, but there are three main considerations. First, of course, is price. We also try to find something that's appropriate for Spokane. A film that's great for Seattle or New York isn't necessarily going to be great for Spokane. And then third is subject matter. We try to get at least one film dealing with transgender issues, and also films dealing with male/female or gay/lesbian subjects.
This year's festival is the third annual and starts with a "family friendly" night on Friday. "We like to have a night where teenagers can come with their families," says Lee. "And it's not that we can't show certain films because they're explicit, it's more that the subject matter might be over the heads of a lot of kids. They'd just be bored."
Friday night opens with the award-winning documentary Scout's Honor, which follows the political and personal uproar over the anti-gay policies of the Boy Scouts of America. Winner of both the Audience Award for Best Documentary and the Freedom of Expression Award at the Sundance Film Festival, Scout's Honor centers primarily around the efforts of a 13-year-old boy and a 70-year-old man (both straight, incidentally) to change the history of scouting.
"The boy in this film is the most dynamic 13-year-old you've ever seen. He's got more guts than most adults. It's really amazing to see," says Lee. "And the 70-year-old man has been involved in the Scouts his entire life. He's kicked out of the Scouts in the film not for being gay, but for standing up for what he believes in."
The other films for Friday night include Coming to Terms and Breakin' the Glass.
"Coming to Terms is a very simple story, really. It's about a college kid who's forced into coming out by his parents, who keep calling him in his dorm room," says Lee. "And Breakin' the Glass is a really fun documentary about women's basketball that has nothing to do with gay or lesbian issues; it's more of a feminist film."
Saturday night's offerings include a four-minute claymation piece, several documentaries and a Norwegian coming-of-age film. In Adam, a little girl is mistaken for a boy and finds a whole new world of claymation possibilities. Lost Cause -- described by the filmmaker, Glenn Gaylord, as "red ribbons or red tape?" -- has the potential for being troubling, documenting the sometimes frustrating experience of AIDS patients while trying to get help from the organizations that are supposed to help them. But Lee says that more than anything, the film is a comedy.
"This poor guy has AIDS and he's hooked up to his IV and he's trying to call an AIDS agency of some sort, and he keeps getting transferred, or sent to the wrong department, or told by someone, 'Well, I can't really help you.' It sounds awful, but it's hilarious."
Waves comes from Norwegian director Frank Mosvold and won best International Jury Award in Switzerland's Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. The 10-minute film tells the story of two 18-year-old friends cautiously testing the waters of friendship (and possibly more) on a weekend trip to a remote cabin.
The political furor over same-sex marriages is documented in A Union in Wait. When two women try to have a wedding ceremony in North Carolina's Wake Forest University chapel, the university refuses to allow it, only to cause an uprising among the student community.
"A Union in Wait is actually very uplifting because the women win for a change," laughs Lee. "That's nice in gay/lesbian documentaries, because we tend to lose a lot."
Finally, the critically acclaimed A Boy Named Sue chronicles the journey of Sue, a transgendered female, into Theo, a post-op male. "This is the movie we're all looking forward to," says Lee. "The film follows the subject for six years, so you see a lot of change and you get a sense of what the entire process is like," says Lee. "At the beginning of the film, Sue has a lesbian lover, and you get her reaction and also the reactions of her friends. And there's also the physical and medical side of the procedure, which the film gets into as well."
While the first two years of the festival had a good turnout, Lee thinks this year will be a groundbreaker. "We're getting better at getting the word out," she says. "We've had calls from as far away as Moscow, and several gay/lesbian organizations have called about group rates. And the movies themselves are a real draw, I think."
The Gay/Lesbian Film Festival is on Friday,
Nov. 9, and Saturday, Nov. 10, at 7:30 pm at
the Riverpoint EWU Auditorium. Tickets: $7 per show, or $10 for both nights. Call: 747-4927.