Jessica Hoffmann

Notes from Outfest

Filed By Jessica Hoffmann | July 22, 2007 1:21 AM | comments

Filed in: Media
Tags: Barbara Hammer, By Any Means Necessary, Chris Vargas, Dana Spiotta, Dyketactics, Eric Stanley, Frantz Fanon, Hilary Goldberg, In the Spotlight, Jason Michael Fritz, Joan Kelly, Nitrate Kisses, Outfest, Portrait of Bonnie, Sunny & Share Love You

Seen so far: half of a beautiful Barbara Hammer tribute, a whole bunch of shorts, a rad radical-queer program curated by Homotopia's Eric Stanley and Chris Vargas, and Sunny and Share Love You.

(And tonight, before Hilary Goldberg's lovely black-and-white short In the Spotlight, a white guy representing the LGBT committee of the Screen Actors' Guild told the audience: “We have a lot of straight allies. I love straight people — I have two that clean my house and they’re wonderful.” Did he really say that? I think he really said that. Anyway, the evening recovered gracefully from that madness. More after the jump ... )

(I've attended only a tiny bit of a vast festival, so these notes are mere glimpses.)

This year, Outfest featured a two-part tribute to lesbian experimental filmmaker Barbara Hammer. I could only make it to the second part, which included Dyketactics x 2, Multiple Orgasm, and Nitrate Kisses. These are beautiful, altering films -- fluid, multidimensional sexuality; cries against silence and invisibility; experiments in the ways love, and desire, are (or can be) experiments. I mean -- what do I mean? -- I mean, I think, that rather than experiments that feel purely or primarily formal or intellectual, Hammer's experiments are as emotional as they are aesthetic, or her aesthetic is emotional, physical ... Ali Hoffman, who curated the program, called Hammer's films "cinematic caresses". Odd to even conceptualize that, but that's what these films, in their best moments seem to be -- sensual, touching well beyond what you'd think the form could allow.

And then, in the post-screening Q&A, one of very few women of color in the room told Hammer she was offended that the only penis shown in the films was a black one, thinking that choice perpetuated racist mythologies about black men and sexuality. Rather than engage this critique -- maybe pausing to consider the impact of internalized racism on all of us? -- Hammer rushed to defend her choice, another white woman rushed to offer her own it's-not-racist reading, and a third white woman quickly redirected the conversation to another topic -- how she, too, could become a successful experimental lesbian filmmaker.

And then this other, amazing thing happened, where Hammer redirected away from that careerist question into several beautiful minutes of talk about living through chemo in the past year, learning how people matter so much more than "career," or work ...

And then I took a walk outside with my make/shift coeditors, and later landed in a program of radical-queer political films that Eric Stanley and Chris Vargas curated around their new movie, Homotopia. Introduced with a bit of talk on the feminist process by which Homotopia was made and an invocation of Frantz Fanon (whose texts are all over the movie), the program included the very funny -- and f*c*ing appalling (oy, liberal feminists, you make my heart hurt; I can't let it go--it's almost codependent) -- Ms. Magazine Takes a Sh*t in the Ocean; a gorgeous 4-minute short called Portrait of Bonnie by Jason Michael Fritz; and By Any Means Necessary, which demands radical action in the face of an AIDS holocaust. And then, of course, Homotopia, in which a yuppy-gay wedding is destroyed in style by radical-queer "terrorists." (My favorite moment is Mattilda decrying a gigantic U.S./rainbow-flag duo, arm waving, costume stunning and elaborate.)

Tonight, my friend and former writing-group buddy Joan Kelly and I went to see Hilary Goldberg's In the Spotlight and Sunny & Share Love You. It was a pleasure to see both -- the one for its lush black-and-white noir beauty, and the other for some ridiculous laughs.

Tomorrow, Itty Bitty Titty Committee

Tonight, no more illuminated screens. It's time to finish Dana Spiotta's Eat the Document, which I've been enjoying in tiny chunks of time between too much work all week.

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