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POW Film review: ‘Austin Unbound’

'Austin Unbound' screens Sunday at the Hollywood Theatre

The first documentary about a deaf transperson is also locally made, with opening shots of iconic Portland landmarks easing you into the voiceless 45 minute feature. In what seems like a very collaborative process from Greensoda Studios Austin Unbound follows protagonist Austin, as well as his friends and family, in his journey through top surgery in 2004-2005. It screens this Sunday as part of the POW (Portland Oregon Women) Film Fest.

Very aware that this is the story of one man, and not a fable for all deaf or trans people, Austin Unbound takes a very personal yet objective approach. The film contains no vocal communication. Even the interviews with hearing individuals, including Austin’s mom, are subtitled and overlayed with music.

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Presents for the Documentarian

Topp Twins characters Ken & Ken

Doc lovers are a special brand of film buff and while there’s plenty of good gay box sets of movies out there here’s a special subset of gifts about the “real thing.”

#1 Now out on DVD

Untouchable Girls – This year America experiences the Kiwi invasion when dyke music and comedy sensations from New Zealand, the Topp Twins, finally showed us they exist. The duo had a television show that still hasn’t come to the states but they have finally begun touring here over the past couple years, including a visit to Portland a year and a half ago. But the big news is that their documentary Untouchable Girls is finally available on DVD in the US. You can read our review from QDoc 2010 here.

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QDoc Sunday film review: ‘Put This on the Map’

Put This on the Map is a documentary featuring 26 different LGBTQ youth living in East King County.  In the film the youth speak about what it means to be LGBTQ and discuss both gender expression and sexual orientation.  One of the things I enjoyed most about the film was that youth from across the LGBTQ spectrum were included.  We get to hear from youth that identify as trans, gender queer, bisexual, lesbian and gay.  They talk about their experiences with bullying, their families, coming out, school, friends, their relationships, and their hopes for the future.

The film offers good basic information but is a little too after school special-esque.  It doesn’t really delve into any specific topic as the experiences of so many youth are touched on.

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QDoc Saturday film review: ‘The Adonis Factor’

It's hard to be pretty when being pretty makes you hard.

The Adonis Factor, a film by Christopher Hines, is a look into the objectification and beautification inherent in the gay male world. Hines also brought us the movie, The Butch Factor. Both films discuss social and personal roles and image in gay culture. However, The Adonis Factor focuses more on beauty and image expectation.

I love queer documentary. I forget how narrow my perspective can be as a lesbian, and I’m always thrilled to find new beautiful pathways, and dark alleys in which to peek. I do kind of feel, that when I opened the door on this documentary, all that stood before me were boring pant suits. The emotional standpoint attempts to create empathy towards muscle ridden gay men, and remind us all that “beauty is a curse”. I can understand that breaking your back to reach a social expectation is grueling, but I’m not so sure sitting and watching an entire documentary on this one issue is eye opening.

I found the perspective narrow. Midway through, I got a sense that these men felt their pressure to work out and starve themselves was exclusive to them. There was an attitude that maybe straight people and other queer communities don’t have it quite as rough with pressure to be perfect. I did find some of the interviews to be interesting, but I couldn’t help that “I’ll give you something to cry about” feeling welling up inside me like an angry demon ready to devastate some carbs.

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Q Doc Sunday night film review: Becoming Chaz

Becoming Chaz - Chaz Bono and Jennifer Elia
Becoming Chaz - Chaz Bono and Jennifer Elia

Becoming Chaz - Chaz Bono and partner Jennifer Elia

Mostly famous as the daughter of Sonny and Cher, Becoming Chaz is the story of Chastity Bono’s transition to becoming Chaz Bono, more specifically, Bono’s decision to have top surgery and to come out publicly as a transman. In the process, we see Chaz deal with the difficulties in his relationship to partner Jenny, navigate the murky waters of his relationship to his mother, Cher, and take on the task of tackling the media by coming out publicly as trans. Becoming Chaz, while containing fascinating footage of the added impact of fame and publicity on a transition, is sadly a rather uninspired documentary film that feels oddly dated.

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QDoc Friday film review: ‘The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye’

Nothing says I love you, like surgically adopting your lover's face.

The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye is a film by Marie Losier chronicling the relationship of Genesis P-Orridge and his wife Lady Jaye. Genesis took part in forming Throbbing Gristle, Psychic TV, and kickstarting the industrial movement. Lady Jaye was his love and collaborator. Epic romance and art were among their accomplishments… so was looking alike. Man, if you think you and your partner are codependent, check these two out! They met in a fetish dungeon, and spent years having plastic surgery to look more like one another. Basically, their one-ification was their gay baby.

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James Franco teams up with Gus Van Sant for art flick

Reeves and Phoenix in a still from the original 'My Own Private Idaho'

I definitely think James Franco has earned his toaster for being an honorary gay. Following his many gay onscreen portrayals Franco has teamed up with local queer film director Gus Van Sant for 2 art films in an exhibition called “Unfinished,” set to show at the Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills this weekend through April 9th.

Both are based on Van Sant’s 1991 classic My Own Private Idaho starring Keanu Reeves and the late River Phoenix, and are directed by James Franco. Endless Idaho, a 12 hour Cremasterlike monster, features edited outtakes, deleted scenes, alternate takes and behind-the-scenes footage from the movie as well as interviews with actual street hustlers. The score is by Luke Paquin and Tim O’Keefe. It’s a “behind the scenes” behemoth that isn’t like to keep the average fan’s interest for 12 hours, but is a goldmine for the truly devoted film process buff.

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Upcoming PBS premiere ‘Out in America’ features Oregonians

Mike Hartman, of Eagle Creek. Of course the cowboy is from Oregon.

Mike Hartman, of Eagle Creek. Of course the cowboy is from Oregon.

A new PBS production featuring queer Americans called OUT in America will premiere nationally in June to coincide with National Gay & Lesbian Pride month but Oregonians get a sneak peek on OPB this Thursday.

The documentary is directed by Emmy award-winning director Andrew Goldberg.  It examines the stories of queer individuals against the backdrop of public milestones within the LGBT community for the past 50 years.  OUT touches upon such issues as the importance of coming out and speaking up for one’s rights.   It is a positive, humorous, inspirational, and both heartwarming and heartbreaking portrayal of queer life in America.

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QDoc moview (P)reviews - 'Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls'

Topp Twins characters Ken & Ken

Why does it take really cool things forever to be on US radars? We’ve certainly been missing the boat by not recognizing the amazing comedic and musical genius of lesbian New Zealanders the Topp Twins. Hopefully the release of their new documentary, Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls, screening this Sunday at 7pm as part of QDoc, will remedy that. Because this is my favorite film of the fest.

The dynamic duo of Jools and Lynda are also taking their act on the open US road with shows here in Portland on Tuesday at the Mission Theater (1624 NW Glisan). A mix of sketch comedy, yodeling and folk music the Topp Twins have been beloved in their home country for decades as well as outspoken leaders in gay rights. Even though they have never shied away from their stances nor their personal sexualities, a diverse country of farmers both more and less gay-friendly have embraced the folksters unlike any other act.

Untouchable Girls chronicles their lives as ranchers, musicians and activists and blends hilarious interviews with their alter egos with serious topics such as Jools’ battle with cancer, coming out to their parents and a nation, and the real love both have for their respective partners.

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QDoc movie (p)reviews - 'William S. Burroughs, The Man Within'

William S Burroughs

William S. Burroughs, The Man Within. Directed by Yony Leyser screening Sat June 5th, 6pm

People must of thought I was a weird kid. I carried around a torn, stained copy of Naked Lunch in my backpack for months during high school in Utah. It was a difficult book to understand but the reading was made easier because I recognized the science fiction tropes he used and I forgave him the graphic, homosexual imagery. William S. Burroughs wasn’t someone just any young student could idolize. His prose was abstract and difficult. He was a junkie, and had been for forty years. He wrote about strange creatures that fed off the ejaculations of the human race. He developed avant garde methods of prose construction such as the cut-up technique. His influence reverberates through the generations. He inspired queers all over the world to rebel against a society that controlled and punished them. He was celebrated in his later years as the Godfather of Punk. How did this strange, queer junkie worm himself into mainstream American culture and become that dark renaissance man?

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