QDoc: The Portland Queer Documentary Film Festival — which is the only film festival in the world dedicated to screening LGBT documentaries exclusively — has announced its 8th annual line-up. The four day festival kicks off on May 15 at the Whitsell Auditorium inside the Portland Art Museum with Sundance hit “The Case Against 8,” and then continues through May 18 with ten films that “reflect LGBT history, culture, politics and heroes.”
Here’s a rundown of QDoc 2014, with daily descriptions provided by the festival:
Winner of a 2014 Sundance Film Festival Directing Award and SXSW Audience Award, THE CASE AGAINST 8 is a riveting inside look at the groundbreaking Supreme Court case that overturned Proposition 8, California’s ban on same-sex marriage. Five years in the making, the film chronicles the struggle that changed history and paved the way for marriage equality battles nationwide. With exclusive behind-the-scenes access to the powerhouse legal team of conservative Ted Olson and liberal David Boies, who previously faced off as opposing counsel in Bush v. Gore, along with the four plaintiffs in the suit, the film provides a definitive account of the battle that effectively ended marriage discrimination in California. Following the screening will be an Opening Night Party at 10 p.m. in the Museum’s Sunken Ballroom. Directors Ben Cotner and Ryan White will both be in attendance.
Leading Friday’s line-up at Kennedy School is THE ABOMINABLE CRIME, a documentary that explores the epidemic of homophobia and hate crimes happening in contemporary Jamaica told through the stories of two individuals. Along with the film, QDoc is honored to have one of the film’s subjects, internationally renowned human rights activist Maruice Tomlinson, in attendance. Following is DERBY CRAZY LOVE, a documentary that takes viewers into the heart of roller derby, the fastest-growing women’s sport in the world. The film follows two rival Canadian teams battling for international glory and examines the female players themselves, who embody a new kind of femininity and powerful self-expression. Directors Maya Gallus and Justine Pimlott will be in attendance to discuss the adrenaline-inducing experience.
Kicking off Saturday’s line-up is REGARDING SUSAN SONTAG, a dynamic first look into the life of brilliant critic, novelist and activist, Susan Sontag. The documentary intimately tracks Sontag’s seminal, life-changing moments through her own words, as read by Patricia Clarkson—from her early infatuation with books to her first experience in a gay bar and her first marriage to a man to her last female lover. Director Nancy Kates (BROTHER OUTSIDER: THE LIFE OF BAYARD RUSTIN) in attendance. Screening next is the revealing documentary, THE RUGBY PLAYER, a portrait of Mark Bingham, one of the passengers of United Flight 93 on 9/11. The film explores Mark’s life before the doomed flight as an all-American jock navigating his way through the aggressively masculine world of high school and college sports, while breaking gay stereotypes along the way. Afterwards the screen brightens up with KATE BORNSTEIN IS A QUEER & PLEASANT DANGER, a profile of the enormously entertaining gender outlaw, performance artist, writer, iconoclast and recovering Scientologist. Director Sam Feder (BOY I AM, QDoc 2007) will be in attendance. Screening later in the evening is THE DOG, a portrait of an entirely different sort of outlaw: John Wojtowitz, who famously inspired Sidney Lumet’s Oscar-Nominated DOG DAY AFTERNOON. In the documentary, Wojtowicz recounts the incredible story behind the 1972 failed bank robbery to finance his lover’s sex-reassignment surgery and provides an unconventional overview of New York gay culture 40 years ago.
Starting on Sunday with KUMU HINA, QDoc presents a moving portrait of Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu (Hina), a respected teacher of native Hawaiian cultural who happens to be a proud Mahu (transgender). In teaching traditional Pacific Islander values and hula to young Hawaiians, the powerful Hina also challenges her students to question gender stereotyping. Directors Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson (OUT IN THE SILENCE, QDoc 2010) will be in attendance. The next film, THE CIRCLE (DER KREIS), is an inventive hybrid of documentary and live action that won the Audience Award for Best Documentary at this year’s Berlin Film Festival. Set against the backdrop of 1940s Nazi-Germany, the film tells the history of the first gay rights organization in Europe through the love affair between two men, Röbi and Ernst, at the political center of The Circle. Screening next is the documentary-musical, MY PRAIRIE HOME, about genderqueer indie singer/songwriter, Rae Spoon. In the film, Spoon (who prefers to use the pronoun “they”) croons about their queer and musical coming of age through Interviews, performances and music sequences set against the majestic and infinite expanses of the Canadian Prairies.
Closing the Festival on Sunday evening is TO BE TAKEI, a new documentary about Star Trek actor Geroge Takei, an avid social networker, outspoken LGBT activist and frequent Howard Stern guest. In this engaging film, audiences are invited to learn about George’s life from his brutal childhood experiences with his family in a Japanese-Internment camp, to his success as Sulu on Star Trek and his current life as an eternal optimist fighting for marriage equality alongside his husband Brad. Director Jennifer Kroot (IT CAME FROM KUCHAR, QDoc 2009) and editor/co-director Bill Weber will be present.
The full program and screening times can be found at queerdocfest.org.