A Los Angeles woman, who worked as a news reporter in Dayton in the late ’60s, is the subject of a documentary that will be shown at this year’s LGBT Film Festival. It’s one of more than 20 movies — a combination of short and feature-length films — that will be screened Oct. 10-13 at The Neon theater in downtown Dayton.
The festive weekend also includes Q&A sessions with filmmakers and actors, as well as an opening night after-party. Both weekend passes and individual tickets are available.
“We extended the festival by an extra day this year because there were too many good films,” says committee member Jonathan McNeil, who is also the theater’s manager. “We could have done a festival just of excellent documentaries, but we found some good narrative films, too. We think everyone in the community can find something to embrace in this lineup.”
There are a number of local ties to the films this time around. Jim Klein, the Academy Award-nominated filmmaker from Yellow Springs, served as consulting editor for the award-winning documentary “Unsettled” about LGBT refugees and asylum seekers who have fled intense persecution from their home countries and who are resettling in this country. “Slushie,” a short film about a struggling Christian rock band, was directed by Wright State University student Ben Evory.
Another local connection
“Circus of Books,” a documentary film about a heterosexual couple in Los Angeles who owned and operated one of the country’s most famous gay adult bookstores, will be shown Friday night at the festival, followed by an after-party at The Greater Dayton LGBT Center a few blocks from the theater.
The film, labeled “a very funny, very moving documentary” by Hollywood Reporter, centers around Karen Mason and her husband, Barry, who by chance ended up becoming one of the biggest distributors of gay porn in the United States. When the three Mason children were young, they had no idea what their parents did for a living. Their daughter, Rachel, is the documentarian who chronicles her parents’ bookstore career and many challenges ranging from facing jail time for a federal obscenity prosecution to allowing the store to become a place of refuge at the height of the AIDS crisis.
Jude Dry of indieWire says the film is “chock full of entertaining characters, but Karen ultimately emerges as the film’s complicated and fascinating heroine.” Karen, a journalist, wrote for Dayton’s Journal Herald early in her career.
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Putting together a festival
Alex Stepanenko is one of the volunteers helping to plan this year’s LBGT Film Festival. After attending the festival for years, she decided to volunteer with ticketing for last year’s event. When she was recommended for the selection committee, she accepted.
The Dayton woman says she liked the idea of seeing “heaps of independent films” — 110 in total — and also wanted to help increase the age, gender, and socioeconomic diversity of the committee voices. “For the creative community, independent film festivals are important in supporting artists who are making films that aren’t motivated by the least-common-denominator approach of appealing to the largest audience possible, but for whom an enthusiastic audience does exist,” Stepanenko says. “That allows the films to be more creative, challenging and often more compelling.”
For the LGBT community, she adds, the festival is important as a source of validation, representation, and celebration. “Besides the basic joy of feeling less alone in the world through seeing people like you exist on screen, having a variety of LGBT stories in one place allows for getting past stereotypes and tokenization, into more complex or even contradictory representations that better capture the rich fabric of reality.
She says it’s also a chance for the community to gather together in a physical space.
“The theater fills up with the most interesting, colorful, creative people! In general, the festival is important as an opportunity to take a more honest look at the diversity of the human experience.”
LGBT Festival Lineup
Thursday, Oct. 10
“Gay Chorus Deep South” (USA) In response to a wave of discriminatory anti-LGBTQ laws in Southern states and the divisive 2016 election, the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus embarks on a tour of the American Deep South in hopes of uniting people in a time of difference. Preceded by “Slushie” (USA) Jeremiah and his Christian rock band’s dream of touring the world is complicated when a cute guy comes to town.
Friday, Oct. 11
“Circus of Books” (USA) For over 35 years, the gay porn shop Circus of Books served as the epicenter for LGBT life and culture in Los Angeles. Unbeknownst to many in the community it served, the store was cultivated and cared for by its owners Karen and Barry Mason, a straight couple with three children. This portrait of the Masons is told by their daughter, Rachel. Preceded by “Dress You Up Like Mrs. Doubtfire” (USA) A look at the popular 1992’s film as one of the first family-friendly films to include drag.
Saturday, Oct. 12
“Top Drawer Shorts” including “The One You Never Forget” (USA) Carey is going to his first dance, and his father’s mission to get the perfect picture is more difficult than expected. “Baby” (USA) A queer love story that follows a Dominican teenager in the Bronx on a Saturday afternoon. “Misdirection” (USA) A chance encounter teaches Cam to open her heart to magical possibilities. “Sweetheart Dancers” (USA) A Two-Spirit couple rewrites the rules of Native American culture through their participation in the Sweetheart Dance. “Thrive” (UK) Two young men make a connection during a hookup, but it becomes apparent they’re looking for different things. “Sweater” (USA) Corey’s day couldn’t be worse. Then he gets a free coffee. “Skin” (USA) A queer teenager discovers a living cave that presents them with a new skin and a chance to explore their identity. “Desperately Seeking Shavers” (Australia) A candid look at the way trans and gender-diverse people express and actualize their identity through facial hair.
“Saint Frances” (USA) A young woman drifting through life contends with an unplanned pregnancy just as she lands a new job nannying the 6-year-old daughter of an affluent lesbian couple. Preceded by “Girls Weekend.” A queer daughter (Ali Liebegott) returns home to Las Vegas for a “girls weekend” with her estranged homophobic sister and people-pleasing mother (Linda Lavin).
“Queering the Script” (Canada) A roster of fans, creators and actors gather for an incisive discussion of the sometimes inspiring yet often troubled history of queer female representation on television.
“Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street” (USA) At the time of release, The Advocate dubbed 1985’s “A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge” the gayest horror film ever made. For the film’s closeted young star, Mark Patton, such a tag was a stark reminder about the homophobia rampant in Hollywood at the time — and the painful experience he had making the high-profile film which ended his acting career just as it was about to begin.
Sunday, Oct. 13
“Unsettled” (USA) A documentary revealing the untold stories of LGBT refugees and asylum seekers who have fled persecution from their home countries and who are resettling in the United States.
“The Blonde One” (Argentina) In the suburbs of Buenos Aires, Gabriel has just moved in with his colleague, Juan. With a revolving door of beauties streaming out of Juan’s bedroom, his machismo seems firmly in place. However, the attraction between the two men is undeniable.
“Straight Up” (USA) Todd and Rory are intellectual soul mates. He might be gay. She might not care. A romantic-comedy drama with a twist. Preceded by “Next Level S—t” (USA) When Taylor prepares obsessively for the perfect third date with dreamboat Chris, his efforts backfire sending the relationship spiraling to a whole new level of intimacy.
WANT TO GO?
What: 14th Annual Dayton LGBT Film Festival
When: Thursday through Sunday, Oct. 10-13
Where: The Neon movie theater, 130 E. 5th St., Dayton.
Tickets: Festival passes for the weekend are $65 and include priority seating and an opening night party. Tickets to individual screenings also available.
Also: On Friday, Oct. 12, attendees of “Circus of Books” will be invited to The Friday Night Party at The Greater Dayton LGBT Center a few blocks from the theater. The $8 ticket will include the film, complimentary drink and appetizers catered by Jenn DiSanto.
More info: www.daytonlgbt.com or call The Neon (937)222-8452.