Since the Sundance Film Festival's inception 30 years ago, the vast majority of the best American independent films by and/or about queer people have screened at Sundance, including "The Times of Harvey Milk," "Longtime Companion," "Poison," "The Living End," "Swoon," "Paris is Burning," "Go Fish," "High Art," "Hedwig and the Angry Inch," "The Kids Are All Right," "Pariah," "How To Survive a Plague," "Keep The Lights On" and -- last year alone -- "Kill Your Darlings," "Concussion," "Interior. Leather Bar," "C.O.G." and "Pit Stop" (and we could truly go on and on and on).
This year's festival -- which kicks of tomorrow -- is primed to add a few more films to that list. Of the 115 feature films screening at Sundance, at least 15 of them feature prominent queer content and characters. Those are ratios that would please Kinsey, and collectively these films should end up becoming a sizeable portion of LGBT film festival programming for the next year (though Berlin and SXSW are likely to add a few more options in the next couple of months).
So what exactly are we going
to see that emerge in the next 11 days? From George Takei to Bill Hader to the case against Prop 8 to a gay ghost, here's 14 queer-oriented feature films screening at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. And that's not even including a half dozen queer short films, or "Stranger By The Lake" -- the erotic French thriller that premiered at Cannes last year, or the latest from queer cinema icon Gregg Araki (who directed the aforementioned "The Living End," among many other Sundance highlights), who is coming back to Park City with the not-so-queer (at least literally) "White Bird in a Blizzard." Should make for a gay old time in Utah, to say the very least.
52 Tuesdays (World Cinema Dramatic Competition)
Director: Sophie Hyde, Screenplay and story by: Matthew Cormack, Story by: Sophie Hyde
The gist: This Australian film -- which Sundance calls "an emotionally charged story of desire, responsibility, and transformation" follows a sixteen year old coming to accept her mother's unexpected plans for gender transition, which limits their time together to Tuesdays. Interestingly enough, the film itself was actually filmed over the course of a year—once a week, every week, only on Tuesdays.
Appropriate Behavior (NEXT)
Director and screenwriter: Desiree Akhavan
The gist: Desiree Akhavan is being primed to be a major breakout of Sundance, writing, directing and starring in "Appropriate Behavior," a comedy about a young woman (Akhavan) struggling to become a tall order of a trio: An ideal Persian daughter, a politically correct bisexual, and a hip, young Brooklynite. "This is a fantastic debut feature by her," Sundance programmer Kim Yutani told me. "Her comedy and style is so unique. I really feel like this a big moment for her to be discovered."
Directors: Ben Cotner, Ryan White)
The gist: A behind-the-scenes look inside the case to overturn California's ban on same-sex marriage, this documentary was shot over five years and follows the unlikely team that took the first federal marriage equality lawsuit to the U.S. Supreme Court. Yutani called it "very moving," offering a "unique beyhind the scenes look at what they went through."
Director and screenwriter: Sydney Freeland
The gist: Following three young Native American -- a rebellious father-to-be, a devout Christian woman, and a promiscuous transsexual -- "Drunktown's Finest" is a coming of age drama from first time feature filmmaker Sydney Freeland. Yutani said that the "the heart and soul of this film lies in the native transsexual character."