So we all know that Salt Lake City was awarded the “gayest” city by The Advocate, but friends, as a current resident in SLC who just moved back from Portland, I can tell you that just isn’t true! However, Salt Lake City does occassionally step up its “cool” factor, such as every January when Salt Lake City and Park City host the Sundance Film Festival. This is the time of year where pretty much everyone I know braves the snow and goes up to Park City in the hopes of sighting celebrities in town for the festival. Sundance is a place where independent artists can present their stories free of the commercial pressure of the mainstream movie industry. Many Sundance movies are then picked up by larger distributors and re-released into theaters, such as last year’s Sundance queer favorite, Pariah.
Being a poor, unemployed college student I didn’t make it to many Sundance movies this year, (which can quickly become expensive at $15 a pop!) but here are some queer movies from this years film festival to watch out for:
This is one of the films that I wanted to see the most but didn’t make it to. However, my friends who saw the film loved it. If you like bloody tampons, disembowelment, wanton sex, dark comedies and gross horror, this is the film for you! The film centers on a teenager named Pauline who fantasizes about dead people, blood and gore, and becoming a surgeon. Pauline decides she wants to lose her virginity and this is when things get really strange… Traci Lords play Pauline’s controlling mother, Phyllis, and John Waters(!) plays their quirky reverend (a role which he, of course, refused to shave his infamous moustache for).
On a different note, this is director Aurora Guerrero’s coming of age story which focuses on the budding friendship (and ensuing complexities) between two high-school girls in Los Angeles. Yolanda is the epitomy of perfection while her friend Mari is the new girl in town who recenlty moved to California with her illegal-immigrant family. After a rough start, the girls form a complex connection that confuses them at times.
Trans filmmaker Rhys Ernst started making this movie as his MFA thesis and produces a movie of universal appeal. In the hopes of reconnecting with her trans boyfriend Tristan, Zooey plans a road trip to a mysterious roadside attraction called the “Thing”. While Tristan and his cat Steven struggle to find comfortable places to pee, Zooey learns she hasn’t really left her troubles behind like she had hoped.
How to Survive a Plague is the story of two non-profit coalitions, ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) and TAG (Treatment Action Group)—who were paramount in bringing attention to an epidemic that was being ignored by the rest of America.
In never-before-seen archival footage, director David France presents the brave activists who fought for the rights of people with HIV and AIDS by infiltrating drug companies and identifying promising new drugs for treatment. These individuals also helped in moving the drugs from experimental trials into helping patients in record time. The film chronicles their bravery, struggles, and triumphs.
Keep The Lights On is the newest film from gay director Ira Sachs. Sachs grew up partially in Utah and has had 3 or 4 films at Sundance, one of which won the Grand Jury Prize. His newest film is semi-autobiographical and chronicles the relationship between two gay men across the span of almost a decade and their struggles with love, addiction, sex, and boundaries.