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In the wake of Prop 8, will a new Queer Cinema rise at Sundance?

In the wake of Prop 8, will a new Queer Cinema rise at Sundance?

When Sundance kicks off this week, I’ll be curious to see whether all the rancor towards Utah’s Mormon community in the wake of Prop 8 will manifest itself into some sort of tangible action. Will there be protests outside of the Holiday Village Theater, whose CEO gave $9,999 to the Yes on 8 campaign? Will there be boycotts of other Mormon-run businesses? Eggs thrown at the Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City?

For Filmmaker Magazine’s Sundance issue, I looked into another possible outcome of the Prop 8 debacle: Will a new Queer Cinema rise as a result of this latest civil rights setback? Most of the filmmakers I spoke with seemed newly energized. And though some of their current films may not yet reveal the sort of groundbreaking approaches that once brought us auspicious debut films from Todd Haynes, Tom Kalin, Christopher Munch, and Gregg Araki in the early ’90s, several filmmakers said they would likely take up the cause in further work. Whether those films are avant-garde (as advocated by Jenni Olson) or comical (as suggested by Madeleine Olnek), it remains to be seen. But as the gay film community travels to Park City, they might consider this act of rebellion: Rather than a boycott, suggested one filmmaker, “A better protest would be to go make-out in front of one of their churches.”

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Yes, it’s true that the many thousands who protested the passage of Prop. 8 (I was among them) should have done more, a lot more, beforehand. I’ve heard this “Where WERE they?!” complaint quite a bit in the two months since the elections. Yes, we should have done more. That’s where the anger came from; the frustration, the fury. We knew we should have done more and we let it happen. We didn’t raise our voices in sufficient numbers then; but we’re doing it NOW.

As for the gay community being a privileged group, I guess that’s true if you’re talking about wealthy, or well-off, white men. It’s probably not true for everyone other LGBT who doesn’t fit that description. Otherwise, find me a community that doesn’t have it’s own provincialism and snobbery.

Queer filmmakers are going to have to stop waiting around and just take matters into their own hands, get their films made by hook or by crook, and at some point the blogs will start calling them “the new Queer wave” or whatever sobriquet fits. Stop looking for a community and just start working; the community will find you.


Curious thing about these energized activists, this new wave of young angry people who took to the streets and are being hailed as the future of the gay rights movement: where were they Nov 3? Or Oct 31, when thousands stormed the streets of West Hollywood with tremendous energy to…celebrate Halloween. Where were they in August? Apparently this new wave of activists also took it for granted that Prop 8 would go down. Protesting AFTER it passed looked downright silly, but at least it made for a good show.

Julian Breece‘s statement in “Filmmaker” that the mainstream gay community “is slowly, gradually becoming a privileged community” is very misinformed. It’s always been a privileged group. Rules of wardrobe, provincialism, ownership of taste, and general snobbery run rampant among gay people. I won’t use the word community, which implies a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.

So I wonder: how does one find this gay film community you write of? How do you connect when you don’t fit in?

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