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Qu(e)eries: Just How Queer Is This Year's Sundance Film Festival Gonna Be?

Photo of Peter Knegt By Peter Knegt | Indiewire January 17, 2013 at 2:05PM

Quick, easy answer: Very. Despite its location smack dab in the middle of one of the most conservative, homophobic states in America, the Sundance Film Festival has always been an extraordinary friend of Dorothy, and this year will prove no exception.
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"Kill Your Darlings"
"Kill Your Darlings"

Quick, easy answer: Very. Despite its location smack dab in the middle of one of the most conservative, homophobic states in America, the Sundance Film Festival has always been an extraordinary friend of Dorothy, and this year will prove no exception.

Since the festival's inception nearly 30 years ago, the vast majority of the best American independent films by and/or about queer people have screened at Sundance, including "The Times of Harvey Milk," "Longtime Companion," "Poison," "The Living End," "Swoon," "Paris is Burning," "Go Fish," "High Art," "Hedwig and the Angry Inch," "The Kids Are All Right," "Pariah" and -- last year -- both "How To Survive a Plague" and "Keep The Lights On" (and I could truly go on and on and on).

On the phone last week, the festival's Director, John Cooper (who happens to be queer himself), mused about why he thinks Sundance has been such a hotbed for queer filmmakers.

"I think in general when you're looking for original stories, and when you're looking for filmmakers who are fearless and when you're looking for stories that are very immediate to our culture right now, queer film is going to pop up a lot," Cooper said. "Of course, we don't program that way. Each film is selected on its own merit!"

Interior. Leather Bar.

Of the 115 feature films screening at Sundance, at least 11 of them are directed or co-directed by an openly queer filmmaker, while 12 feature prominent queer content and characters. Those are ratios that would please Kinsey and collectively these films should end up becoming a sizeable portion of LGBT film festival programming for the next year (though Berlin and SXSW are likely to add a few more options in the next couple of months).

Cooper -- who noted the premieres of "Paris Is Burning" and "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" as two of highlights of his 20+ years working for the festival -- said that the most notable transition in queer filmmaking he's noticed over his time at the festival been this moving away from the coming out narrative.

"It's not enough to just be a coming out story or a coming of age story anymore," he said. "Or a both of those together story. I think what we're seeing is a deeper dive into sexuality in general. What sexual relationships are and how they reverberate in our society. I think it has to be one step past in the originality of the storyline itself."

So where are we going to see that emerge in the next 11 days? From David Sedaris and Allen Ginsberg to James Franco and Pussy Riot, head to the next page for a complete list of the feature films with various queer interest factors that are screening at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival (though note there's also quite a few short films, including one by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman and another co-written by John Cameron Mitchell).

This article is related to: Que(e)ries, Sundance Film Festival






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