Pride of the Ocean 5

Now in its fifth year, Pride of the Ocean is the LGBTQ “film festival for people who love cruising" (read my dispatch from the previous event here). Filmmakers who submit a short film may receive passage on a cruise while attending workshops, screenings, and industry panels. And that’s not all. According to Executive Director John Scagliotti, “We’ve seen close to a million dollars in the last five years end up supporting filmmakers [from] interesting people we bring on board.” To apply, go here. Scagliotti concedes it is best to be recommended by a former participant, though Cineslam is “open and eclectic.” Familiarize yourself with these filmmakers now; they just might be your ticket to Pride of the Ocean.

Spooners,” Dir. Bryan Horch

A deliciously campy comedy about one couple’s quest to replace their lumpy old futon, “Spooners” puts its uptight protagonist through the most absurd indignities imaginable while mattress shopping as a gay. With a sci-fi bent involving a talking computer that turns the store into a discothèque and can tell when you’re lying about your kink. Starring Ben Lerman and Walter Replogle as a refreshingly average looking gay couple (making them all the cuter), “Spooners” is pure candy colored joy.

Beyond the Mirror’s Gaze,” Dir. Iris Moore

Montreal based artist Iris Moore stumbled into animation during a drawing class. Her first animated film, “Beyond the Mirror’s Gaze,” is a whimsical exploration of gender that imagines a world where one could open a closet full of body parts and take one’s pick. Moore’s figures dance across the screen with jolly aplomb, swapping bouncy boobs for petite ones, and transforming lips into hearts into roses. With an enchanting original score, it turns out “Beyond the Mirror’s Gaze” lies a magical dream world you won’t want to leave.

Pride of the Ocean 4

Lavender Hill” Dir. Austin Bunn (Writer, “Kill Your Darlings”), Prod. Bob Hazen

Named for its subject, “Lavender Hill” offers a glimpse into a gay and lesbian commune established in 1973 in upstate New York. Active for nine years, it was one of the longest running intentional communities to come out of the Back to the Land movement. To this day it is unusual to find a mixed queer space of any kind, nonetheless one where gay men and lesbians lived, loved, and yes, had drug-fueled orgies. Cutting 35mm archival footage of topless women raising walls with images of the same women trudging through overgrowth thirty years later, the film is a poetic meditation on nostalgia and impermanence, and a celebration of love and community.

 “Cock N’ Bull,” Dir. Nathan Adloff (“Nate and Margaret”)

Filmed in one day and starring the director, “Cock ‘N Bull” irreverently rides the line between comedy and thriller. Having just been dumped, Wes invites his best friend Chris over for a night of Pinot and prank calls. Things get weird rather quickly, and then they get scary. Semi-improvised and using real prank calls, Adloff proves (a touch infuriatingly) that sometimes all you need is a camera and a good idea.

Passage,” Dir. Kareem Mortimer (“Children of God”)

Set almost entirely on a tiny fishing vessel smuggling a group of Haitians through the Bahamas into the United States, “Passage” is a beautifully wrought exploration of human nature. Centered on a sick boy, his loving sister, and the fisherman denying them water, the most impressive part of this film is not that Mortimer fit cast and crew on a tiny boat during a heat wave, but how he suspends judgment of his seemingly evil antagonist.

READ MORE: My Seven Day Stint on a Floating Gay Film Festival