I have a good friend (she was the editor-in-chief of Redbook of which I was the Entertainment Editor) who left Madhattan and moved with her hubby and kids to Bainbridge Island, off the coast of Washington State.
I don’t see her often. And sorely miss her.
Mad Hot Ballroom meets Paris is Burning? Or is it RuPaul’s Drag Race meets Dancing with the Stars? Whatever your reference, the award-winning and crowd-pleasing documentary Hot to Trot offers a deep-dive look inside the fascinating but little-known world of same-sex competitive ballroom dance.
Gail Freedman’s lively, poignant film follows an international cast of four magnetic men and women over several years, on and off the dance floor, as they journey to the quadrennial Gay Games. Along the way, dancing is revealed to be both a means of overcoming personal hardships—from drug addiction to familial rifts—and a joyous opportunity to merge passionate artistic expression with proud sexual identity.
Everything old is new again. An important move by First Run Features, who are proud to announce the theatrical re-release of the legendary documentary Before Stonewall on June 21 in New York and June 28 in Los Angeles, with other cities to follow. Fifty years after the riots gave birth to the modern lesbian and gay liberation movement, and with substantial progress made, LGBTQ Americans still find themselves fighting on many fronts for full equality, in the U.S. and around the world. Before Stonewall offers a potent reminder of what life was like for LGBTQ people before that extraordinary event.
In the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, the police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City’s Greenwich Village, leading to three nights of rioting by the city’s gay community. With this outpouring of courage and unity the gay and lesbian liberation movement had begun.
Before Stonewall pries open the closet door, setting free the dramatic story of the sometimes horrifying public and private existences experienced by LGBT Americans since the early 1900’s. Revealing and often humorous, this widely acclaimed film relives the emotionally-charged sparking of today’s gay rights movement, from the events that led to the fevered 1969 riots to many other milestones in the brave fight for acceptance.
Experience the fascinating and unforgettable, decade-by-decade history of homosexuality in America through eye-opening historical footage and amazing interviews with those who lived through an often brutal closeted history. The theatrical re-release of Before Stonewall is a chance for audiences to experience this eye-opening film on the big screen, with an audience, the way it was meant to be seen.
Narrated by iconic author Rita Mae Brown, the film features stirring interviews with pioneering cultural figures and activists including Audre Lorde, Allen Ginsberg, Harry Hay, Richard Bruce Nugent, Frank Kameny and Barbara Gittings.
Walmart. You either love the mega-chain. Or hate it.
In 2012, journalist Hugo Meunier spent three months undercover as a Walmart employee in St. Leonard, Quebec, just north of Montreal. And he survived to write about it.
In Walmart: Diary of an Associate (Fernwood Publishing , $22, March 1), Meunier charts the daily life of an impoverished Walmart worker, referring to his shifts at the box store giant as “somewhere between the army and Walt Disney.” Each shift began with a daily chant before bowing to customer demands and the constant pressure to sell. And since Meunier and his fellow workers could not afford to shop anywhere else, they became further indentured to the multi-billion-dollar corporation.
Beyond his time on the shop floor, Meunier documents (in great detail) the extraordinary efforts that Walmart exerts to block unionization campaigns, including their 2005 decision to close their outlet in the city of Jonquiere, where the United Food and Commercial Workers union had successfully gained certification rights. A decade later he charts the Supreme Court of Canada ruling that exposed the dubious legal ground on which Walmart stood in invoking closure and throwing workers out on the street.
Walmart: Diary of an Associate will make you think twice before shopping there.
The Sunday Sessions (First Run Features) offers an intimate portrait of a deeply conflicted young man named Nathan, who is struggling to reconcile his religious conviction and sexual identity.
In this observational documentary, the filmmakers are given unfettered access as Nathan willingly attends clandestine conversion therapy sessions, family sessions,and weekend camps with an alluring therapist. The result is a sensitively crafted emotional and psychological thriller, which chronicles two years of his journey from acceptance to skepticism, all leading to a profound epiphany.
Let us share director Richard Yeagley’s statement about the documentary
“The filming and production of this documentary proved time and time again to be an emotionally taxing process. I knew from the outset that access was going to be the most important element to producing this story. I didn’t want to make a film that was a presentation of facts (something that relied on talking head interviews and an authoritative voice-over narration); I wanted to tell a personal story of an individual’s journey through this therapy.
Instead of an exposé or advocacy-based documentary, I preferred to tackle the story with an observational, fly-on-the-wall approach. I wanted access to the therapy sessions and to the personal life of the protagonist. In order to garner such access, I knew I had to strip myself, as best I could, of bias and approach the film as objectively and curiously as possible.
With all this said, biting my tongue was difficult at times. In many situations, and specifically when things started to get emotionally dark for Nathan, I just wanted to give him a hug and tell him that everything was going to be alright. I wanted to recommend that he move out of rural Virginia, and into a city like New York or Washington D.C., where there is more diversity and a bigger support system for the LGBTQ community. But as a documentary filmmaker employing the observational technique, this was not my role. So I remained observant, and strictly so, in hopes that it would result in the creation of a powerful, thought-provoking film.”