Trailer: Emotional Story Of Father’s Tribute To Son ‘Joe Bell’

Mark Wahlberg in 'Joe Bell' (all photos: Quantrell D. Colbert)
Mark Wahlberg in 'Joe Bell' (all photos: Quantrell D. Colbert)
Mark Wahlberg in ‘Joe Bell’ (all photos: Quantrell D. Colbert)

Academy Award nominee Mark Wahlberg stars in the upcoming film Joe Bell, which tells the intimate and emotional true story of an Oregonian father who pays tribute to his teenage son Jadin.

The film, written by Academy Award winners Diana Ossana & Larry McMurtry (Brokeback Mountain), is based on a true story.

In 2013, at the age of 15, Jadin Bell took his own life at a nearby elementary school playground after being bullied and ridiculed by classmates for being gay.

Following his son’s death, Joe Bell embarks on a self-reflective walk across America to speak his heart to heartland citizens about the real and terrifying costs of bullying.

Reid Miller and Mark Wahlberg in 'Joe Bell'
Reid Miller and Mark Wahlberg in ‘Joe Bell’

The film also stars Connie Britton, Reid Miller and Gary Sinise.

Joe Bell arrives in theaters July 23.

Sadly, the issue of mental health and bullying is not just a story for a dramatic film.

The Trevor Project’s 2021 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health notes that:

• 75% of LGBTQ youth reported that they had experienced discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity at least once in their lifetime.

• 42% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, including more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth.

If you or someone you know is feeling hopeless or suicidal, our trained crisis counselors are available 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386 via chat www.TheTrevorProject.org/Help, or by texting START to 678678.

LGBTQ Critics Honor The Best In 2020 Cinema

Don't miss the Dorian Film Toast 2021 this Sunday, April 19 at 8pm ET/5pm PT

Don't miss the Dorian Film Toast 2021 this Sunday, April 19 at 8pm ET/5pm PT

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association has its Golden Globe Awards, the Screen Actors Guild has the SAG Awards, but now its time to find out what the queer entertainment critics thought represented the best in cinema this past year.

GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics will present its first-ever Dorians Film Toast 2021 awards special Sunday, April 18 at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on the free LGBTQ+ streaming service Revry at revry.tv.

Hosted by gay entertainment and broadcasting veteran Karel, the Dorians Toast offers a queer-centric twist on the standard awards show combining tributes, interview segments, music, and comedy. Plus, members of GALECA take part in lively round-table discussions on nominees in several categories.

Those categories include Best Film, Best LGBTQ film, Best Documentary, Best LGBTQ Documentary, Best Unsung Film, Campiest Flick, ‘We’re Just Wilde About You!’ Rising Star Award, Wilde Artist Award (To a Truly Groundbreaking Force in Entertainment), as well as honors for best actor and actress in leading and featured roles.

Best Film nominees this year include First Cow, Minari, Nomadland, Promising Young Woman, and Sound of Metal.

Among those nominated for Best Director are rising Hollywood firebrand Emerald Fennell for Promising Young Woman and actress Regina King for her feature film directorial debut in One Night in Miami.

Emmy Award winner Leslie Jordan (“Will & Grace”) will receive the Society’s Timeless Star career achievement honor, and transgender writer-director-actress Isabel Sandoval accepts the inaugural GALECA Trailblazer Award.

For a full list of nominees, click here.

Presenters for the virtual event include director Lee Daniels (The United States vs. Billie Holiday), Cheyenne Jackson (Call Me Kat), Rosanna Arquette (Pulp Fiction), Gabourey Sidibe (Precious, Antebellum), Jharrel Jerome (Moonlight, Concrete Cowboy), Rafael Silva (Fluidity, 9-1-1 Lone Star), Harmony Valle-Ramirez (Room To Grow), comedian Margaret Cho, the legendary Charo, and more.

Dorians Film Toast 2021 is coproduced by Brandon Riley Miller (Life in Segments, High) and John Griffiths for GALECA. In order to be eligible for the Dorians Film Toast 2021, films were required to have a theatrical or digital theatrical release from January 1, 2020, to February 28, 2021.

Don’t miss this year’s Dorians Film Toast 2021 on Sunday, April 18 at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on the free LGBTQ+ streaming service Revry at revry.tv.

Founded in 2009, GALECA (formerly known as the Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association) boasts a membership of nearly 290 professional LGBTQ journalists covering film and television.

GALECA hosts two Dorian Awards events during the year – one honoring the best in film and another acknowledging the finest in TV – from mainstream to LGBTQ fare. Last September, the organization celebrated their Dorians TV Toast 2020 with appearances by Billy Porter, Dan Levy, Hugh Jackman, Shangela, Thomas Roberts, Bruce Vilanch and many more.

Note: I’m a proud voting member of GALECA.

Review: MOFFIE Scores Amid Testosterone, Tension & Toxic Masculinity

Kai Luke Brummer in 'Moffie'
Kai Luke Brummer in 'Moffie'
Kai Luke Brummer in ‘Moffie’ (images via official website)

Set in South Africa in the early 1980s, Moffie follows Nicholas (Kai Luke Brummer), who dutifully leaves home to serve a mandatory stretch of military service as required of all white men over 16-year-old at the time.

The title of the film comes from the Afrikaans derogatory term for gay men.

Nicholas is shipped off to boot camp where life is brutal, bleak, and harsh. As he and his fellow grunts prepare to defend the Apartheid regime from a conflict at the Angolian border, Nicholas contends with survival in an environment that reeks of toxic racism, homophobia and machismo.

All while quietly coming to terms with his burgeoning homosexuality.

Kai Luke Brummer in 'Moffie'
Kai Luke Brummer in ‘Moffie’

As we’ve seen in previous military movies, the new recruits’ basic training is humiliating and violent on both physical and psychological levels.

Drill Sergeant Brand (Hilton Pelser) takes the hyper-masculine environment to levels reminiscent of R. Lee Ermey in Full Metal Jacket.

The direction by Oliver Hermanus is taut and sensitive as he artfully plays elements of the film against each other.

During a barracks game of ‘spin the bottle’ where those chosen by fate must fight for the entertainment of the other soldiers, Hermanus offers a classical fugue as sonic soundscape in contrast with the bare-knuckle brawling.

A scene from 'Moffie'
A scene from ‘Moffie’

Throughout the film, Hermanus deftly balances scenes of war and brutal machismo with momentary touches of intimacy and humanity. The screenplay (by Hermanus and Jack Sidey) displays an economy of dialogue allowing the actors to express achingly tender moments of sensitivity.

In one episode where the soldiers are forced to dig (and then sleep) in trenches during a nighttime downpour, Nicholas’s fellow grunt Dylan Stassen (Ryan de Villiers) convinces him to huddle together under a blanket to keep warm. While the moment leads to a mere brush of Stassen’s hand on Nicholas’s face, the sexual tension is palpable.

Brummer is especially impressive in his first major screen role offering a compelling and continually nuanced performance.

Matthew Vey and Kai Luke Brummer in ‘Moffie’

Additionally, the riveting score by Braam du Toit and gorgeous cinematography by Jamie Ramsay become almost full-fledged characters in the film’s storytelling.

I’ll warn readers that the beginning of the film can be difficult to watch as Hermanus sets the tone and emotional scale of harsh journey ahead. Ultimately, the film – built on testosterone, tension, and trauma – resolves with a surprisingly delicate touch.

The BAFTA nominated film premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2019 and was released in South Africa two weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic closed cinemas there.

Moffie is available in select theaters and digital streaming sites in the U.S. today.

Out Movies: Friendship Turns To Romance In Gay Prison Drama ‘Luz’

Screen capture from LUZ
Screen capture from LUZ
Ruben-Ernesto Reyes in LUZ (promo photo)

What began as a friendship turns into a fierce romance in this heart-wrenching drama. LUZ is a story of survival, not only for the lives of both men, but for their relationship as it transitions to the world outside their cell.

Synopsis:

Ruben Gonzales (Ernesto Reyes) is a young latino man who’s fallen into the world of the mafiosos. When an accident leads him into incarceration, his relationship with the cartel and with his family is strained.

While in prison, he falls in the complex hierarchical system until his cellmate and eventual lover Carlos (Jesse Tayeh), comes to his side and helps him find emotional and financial stability.

When the two men are released from prison 2 years apart, they again meet on the outside and while dealing with the circumstances that had them incarcerated in the first place, they ponder whether what they once had was real or just two people hoping to seek light in a dark place.

The film is available now for streaming/digital download on iTunes, Vudu, FandangoNow, and GooglePlay.

LGBTQ Critics Announce Nominations For Best Films Of 2020

L-R Stanley Tucci, Colin Firth in Supernova (image via The Bureau)

While the Golden Globe and SAG Awards have served up their choices for ‘Best of 2020,’ what did queer entertainment writers think about the past year’s films?

GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics, comprised of 250+ active professional journalists covering film and television, has announced the nominations for its 2021 Dorian Film Awards.

Due to the pandemic’s affect on the industry, GALECA extended the consideration period for full-length theatrical releases and digital theatrical releases to January 1, 2020 through February 28, 2021.

The highly-acclaimed Minari leads the list of nominations with six nods including Best Film and Best Foreign-Language Film.

Nomadland scored five nominations including Best Film, Best Director and Best Screenplay (Chloé Zhao), Best Actress (Frances McDormand), and Most Visually Striking Film.

Rounding out the Best Film category are Promising Young Woman (4 nominations), First Cow (3 nominations),  and Sound of Metal (3 nominations).

Emerald Fennell, another double-nominee, garnered nods for both writing and directing Promising Young Woman.

In the Best LGBTQ Film category, the queer critics nominated the romantic period film Ammonite, Spanish-language love story I Carry You with Me, the intimate Stanley Tucci-Colin Firth helmed Supernova, writer-director Alan Ball’s comedy Uncle Frank, the all-star screen adaptation of The Boys in the Band, and the acclaimed bio-pic Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

A scene from Ammonite
A scene from Ammonite (courtesy of See Saw Films)

The folks at GALECA also like to have fun with their awards, so other featured categories include Campiest Flick and the “We’re Wilde About You!” Rising Star Award.

Additionally, the Wilde Artist Award honors “groundbreaking” artists in the world of entertainment. This year’s nominees include the late Chadwick Boseman, Chloé Zhao, Regina King, Elliot Page, and international superstar Dolly Parton.

Last September, queer streaming platform Revry presented the star-studded Dorians TV Toast of 2020 which featured appearances by Hollywood heavy-hitters including Hugh Jackman, Regina King, Janelle Monáe, Billy Porter, Dan Levy, Laverne Cox, Shangela, Thomas Roberts, Bruce Vilanch, Stephanie Miller, Dave Koz, Rafael Casal and more.

The winners will be announced on April 18 in a special event, the Dorians Film Toast 2021, set to air on queer streaming platform Revry.

Launched in 2009, the nonprofit GALECA celebrates both mainstream and LGBTQ-centered content.

View the complete list of nominations below. (Disclaimer: I am a voting member of GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics)

BEST FILM
First Cow
Minari
Nomadland
Promising Young Woman
Sound of Metal

BEST LGBTQ FILM
Ammonite
The Boys in the Band
I Carry You With Me
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Supernova
Uncle Frank

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Another Round
Bacurau
I Carry You With Me
La Llorona
Minari
Two of Us

BEST DIRECTOR
Chloé Zhao, Nomadland
Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman
Kelly Reichardt, First Cow
Lee Isaac Chung, Minari
Regina King, One Night in Miami

BEST SCREENPLAY (original or adapted)
Chloé Zhao, Nomadland
Eliza Hittman, Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman
Lee Isaac Chung, Minari
Radha Blank, The Forty-Year Version

BEST UNSUNG FILM
Driveways
First Cow
The Forty-Year-Old Version

Miss Juneteenth
Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Shirley
The Assistant

BEST DOCUMENTARY
Collective
Crip Camp
Dick Johnson Is Dead
Disclosure

Time
Welcome To Chechnya

BEST LGBTQ DOCUMENTARY
A Secret Love
Born To Be
Disclosure: Trans Lives On Screen
Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado
Welcome To Chechnya

BEST FILM PERFORMANCE — ACTRESS
Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman
Frances McDormand, Nomadland
Nicole Beharie, Miss Juneteenth
Sidney Flanigan, Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

BEST FILM PERFORMANCE — ACTOR
Anthony Hopkins, The Father
Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Delroy Lindo, Da 5 Bloods
Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal
Steven Yeun, Minari

BEST FILM PERFORMANCE — SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Amanda Seyfried, Mank
Candice Bergen, Let Them All Talk
Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Movie Film
Olivia Colman, The Father
Yuh-Jung Youn, Minari

BEST FILM PERFORMANCE — SUPPORTING ACTOR
Chadwick Boseman, Da 5 Bloods
Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah
Leslie Odom Jr., One Night In Miami
Paul Raci, Sound of Metal
Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7

MOST VISUALLY STRIKING FILM
Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn
Mank
Nomadland
Soul
Wolfwalkers

CAMPIEST FLICK
Bad Hair
Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn
Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga
The Prom
Wonder Woman 1984

“We’re Wilde About You!” Rising Star Award
Alan S. Kim
Kingsley Ben-Adir
Maria Bakalova
Radha Blank
Sidney Flanigan

Wilde Artist Award (to a truly groundbreaking force in entertainment)
Chadwick Boseman
Chloé Zhao
Dolly Parton
Elliot Page
Regina King

News Round-Up: December 3, 2020

A moment from Todrick Hall’s “Bells, Bows, Gifts, Trees”

Some news items you might have missed:

Edge Media: Will Columbia be 2021’s most popular LGBTQ travel destination? The South American country has been gaining traction as the next hot spot for queer travelers.

NewNowNext: Inspired by the legendary Black and Latino houses and vogue balls in 1980s New York City, the illuminating, fierce documentary Deep In Vogue introduces North Americans to Manchester’s “Northern Vogue” scene. The film will be available on December 8.

The Hill: Former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton are offering to publicly take the COVID-19 vaccine to prove its safety and encourage Americans to be inoculated.

NowThis News:  This is the Trump campaign’s star witness before Michigan state legislators today whose unhinged voter fraud testimony broke the internet. “With friends like this, who needs enemies?”

The Gaily Grind: Also at the Michigan hearing today, another of Rudy Giuliani’s witnesses said she thinks “all Chinese look alike” while making the argument for a voter ID requirement in Michigan.

Instinct Magazine: Sleigh what!? Todrick Hall has reworked his now-legendary track ‘Nails Hair Hips Heels’ for the holidays, serving up a brand new version titled “Bells Bows Gifts Trees” that is sure to help get us through a holiday season like we’ve never seen before.

Trailer: Paramount TV Serves Up A Cowboy Christmas ‘Dashing In December’

Peter Porte and Juan Pablo Di Pace in Dashing in December (screen capture/Paramount)

This really is the year of the gay Christmas movie!

I’ve previously reported on several holiday romance flicks coming our way including the Sony Pictures film Happiest Season premiering on Hulu, as well as Lifetime’s The Christmas Setup and Hallmark’s The Christmas House.

And now, there’s a gay cowboy Christmas rom-com on the way –Dashing in December – that looks to be a cross between God’s Own Country and Brokeback Mountain but with a much lighter touch and a whole lot more tinsel.

Official synopsis: When Wyatt Burwall (Peter Porte) finally returns home for the holidays in an effort to convince his mother Deb (Andie MacDowell) to sell the family’s Colorado ranch, a romance unexpectedly ignites between Wyatt and their dashing new ranch hand Heath Ramos (Juan Pablo Di Pace), who dreams of saving the beloved property and the ranch’s magical Winter Wonderland attraction while reawakening the spirit of Christmas in Wyatt’s lonely heart.

Dashing in December, from MTV Studios, will debut on Paramount TV on December 13 with simulcasts on TV Land, Pop, and Logo.

Hulu Makes The Holidays Super-Gay With ‘Happiest Season’

L-R Kristen Stewart, Mackenzie Davis (image via Hulu)

The new trailer for the Hulu Original Christmas romantic comedy, Happiest Season, is here and it’s adorbs.

Directed by Clea DuVall, the film stars Kristen Stewart, Mackenzie Davis, Victor Garber, Academy Award-winner Mary Steenburgen, plus a scene-stealing performance by Schitt’s Creek creator/star, Dan Levy.

From the official synopsis:

Meeting your girlfriend’s family for the first time can be tough. Planning to propose at her family’s annual Christmas dinner — until you realize that they don’t even know she’s gay — is even harder. When Abby (Kristen Stewart) learns that Harper (Mackenzie Davis) has kept their relationship a secret from her family, she begins to question the girlfriend she thought she knew.

When the couple arrives at Harper’s parent’s house, she’s introduced as that go-to status of ‘orphan roommate.’

Abby calls her bestie, played by Levy, who finds it difficult to believe folks aren’t picking up on the truth:

Levy: So her parents believe she brought home her lesbian friend for Christmas?
Stewart: Not exactly. They also think that I’m straight.
Levy: Have they ever MET a lesbian?

With fresh and funny performances, Happiest Season combines all too familiar issues like balancing your family’s acceptance, being true to yourself, and trying not to ruin Christmas.

Look for Happiest Season to premiere on Hulu on November 25. Plus, the movie features a soundtrack with LGBTQ artists like Tegan and Sara, Shea Diamond, and more.

And don’t forget the Lifetime Channel and the Hallmark Channel are also sending us LGBTQ-themed romantic comedies, so expect your holiday to even more merry and bright!

Student Filmmakers Go Indie After Losing School Resources

A team of LGBTQ student filmmakers at the University of Southern California’s prestigious School of Cinematic Arts (SCA) have decided to produce what might have been their senior film project independently in the aftermath of the school’s transition to online instruction and lack of access to school’s resources.

Back in April, the team of filmmakers was chosen by faculty to create one of four senior thesis films this fall. Along with SCA’s professional-grade equipment, editing labs, and soundstages, the school also provides the team with $7,500 in funds to help complete the project.

But now, without the school’s resources, the students have launched a crowdfunding campaign at Seed & Spark to raise the necessary funds to achieve their educational and creative goals.

The students explain their project, titled Anti-Venom for a Snake, will explore “queer love and loss at the height of the AIDS epidemic, within the context of the COVID pandemic.”

“The story follows Marcos, the voyeuristic drag artist by the name Evita Envy, as he copes with the loss of his soulmate and his own weakening body,” adds the creative team.

The budding filmmakers aim to use COVID-19 as “a time to pay tribute to the tragedies and experiences of the AIDS epidemic, to sympathize with characters once alienated as ‘sinful’ or ‘other,’ and to connect audiences to the power of queer love in the midst of a global pandemic.”

The description for the project reads, “1993, New York. When an upcoming drag queen’s power is shut off, she is forced to deal with the unbearable silence of an empty apartment.”

“With Anti-Venom for a Snake, I want to use my own experience with homophobia to connect audiences of all demographics with the power of gay love,” says the film’s director, Cameron Kostopoulos. “Most importantly, I hope to give voice to stories and characters that have long been ignored, in hopes of a more inclusive tomorrow.”

Film director Cameron Kostopoulos (screen capture)

It’s notable that the students, while not blaming SCA for the situation, are stuck in an unenviable position.

Ranked as number one among the top American film schools, students attend SCA not only for the prestige of the institution’s pedigree but for the access to expensive production resources.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, that includes 10 working soundstages, industry-standard postproduction editing lab, sound mixing stages, a color correction suite, as well as a small armada of cameras, lighting and sound equipment that is used to outfit each student production.”

All of that allows the students – who pay undergraduate tuition of $59,260 per academic year – to enter the workforce with finished short films in hand to act as a calling card. Many of the senior films go on to screen at film festivals giving the students the chance to catch the eye of Hollywood players.

“Part of the film school and the SCA experience is that you’re promised that when you enter the school you’re going to graduate with tangible films that you can send to potential employers,” Kostopoulos told THR.

“Being in a school like SCA is, in a sense, an equalizer,” says Kostopoulos. “We all have the same resources and a support system, and when you lose that, you lose the whole reason you go to film school.”

USC’s School of Cinematic Arts (photo: Joe MabelCC license)

Faculty has reportedly suggested to students that don’t own professional-grade equipment to shoot projects using smartphone cameras.

Also – even though most classes are now only available online, SCA has not scaled back the cost of tuition. Said one junior, “We are essentially being asked to pay full tuition to make a home movie.”

Some students considered taking a leave of absence for the semester hoping to skip the challenges or disadvantages of not having a full ‘hands-on’ experience. But the school warned students that a leave of absence could mean they might not “be guaranteed placement in these courses in future semesters.” And, those courses are necessary in order to graduate from SCA.

It’s a tough position for the students and the school, but you have to give it to Kostopoulos and his team who have decided to forge ahead on their own to create the queer love story they want to tell.

Their project, which will explore grief and healing as well as serving as a tribute to the AIDS epidemic, has raised $10,195 of the $12,000 goal they’ve budgeted with just under a week to go in the crowdfunding campaign.

For more info about Anti-Venom for a Snake – or to make a donation large or small – head over to Seed & Spark.