On Tuesday night, Park Circle Film Society along with the Charleston Pride Festival hosted an evening of short films, and I was lucky enough to screen the majority of the films prior to the event. "We decided to curate a block of short films this year to give the subjects and genres a little more variety and dimension," says Park Circle Film Society's Karen Black. "[We wanted] to try something different for our audience."
And the films did override the stereotypes that mainstream media perputates. There were no gay best friends or fashion-loving snobs in these shorts. Nor were there African-American drag queens. And the lesbians weren't football coaches or softball players (sound familiar, Glee?).
Instead, the collection addressed issues including repressed sexual awareness, lesbian-dating sterotypes, bisexual first times, and homophobia. All of the shorts were independently produced and some may have been too ambitious, but it was nice to see more nuanced portrayals of homosexuality. Perhaps one of the most moving pieces, "Queen of my Dreams" spans only three minutes but expresses one woman's take on finding her true love and its toll on her family. Without being overwrought with emotion, it adds just enough comedy to showcase the director's struggle with exploring life as a lesbian while trying not to disappoint her family. It's an impressive 180-second take on the classic girl-meets-prince-charming fairy tale, or in this case girl-meets-princess-charming.
"One of These Things Is Not Like the Others" won the London Film Award for Best Screenplay in 2012 and delves into questions of race and sexuality within society. Josh, a gay grad student, brings home his African-American boyfriend to a conservative — and slightly racist — family in this take on Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. While the sentiment behind the film is marked with great intentions, the realism seems a bit forced, especially considering most homophobic racists typically don't change their viewpoints based on one quote from the Bible over the course of nine minutes.
The documentary "Dating Sucks: A Genderqueer Misadventure" explores the struggles of dating as a transgendered person through a mixture of animation and documentary-style filming. With an honest and refreshing approach, filmmaker Sam Berliner makes relatable comparisons between hetero- and homosexual dating — like first-date nerves and being stood up, which add a sense of humanity and humor to the film.
The other films shown included "The First," Absence of Love," "Last Man Out," "Do You Have a Cat?" and "Happy Hour." The films all had an undisputed rawness to them and some seemed slightly amateurish, but the topics addressed needed and still need further exposure to larger audiences, which is precisely what the Park Circle Film Society hopes to achieve.
On Wed. July 31, the Charleston Pride Festival will present Breaking Through, a documentary about candidates who ran open LGBT campaigns, at the Charleston Marriott. Director and producer Cindy Abel and editor Michael Bruno will be in attendence. Visit affa-sc.org for more information.