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Film: As gay as it gets

Carey Mulligan, Leonardo DiCaprio, the Great Gatsby, gay news, Washington Blade

Carey Mulligan and Leonardo DiCaprio in ‘The Great Gatsby,’ which opens May 10. (Still courtesy Warner Bros.)

Now that the Oscars are over, this spring offers LGBT film fans the chance to catch some independent films in theatrical release, some queer films sprinkled throughout the schedules of local film festivals and some gay favorites in mainstream fare.

“Yossi” (2012), a popular offering at last year’s Reel Affirmations, is a sequel to the surprise gay indie hit Yossi and Jagger (2002). In the first movie, Yossi Guttman is a commander in the Israeli army stationed on the Lebanon border. When Lior joins the unit as Yossi’s second-in-command, the two begin a passionate but secret affair which ends when Lior (who is called Jagger because he has “the moves like Jagger”) is killed in an ill-considered skirmish.

“Yossi” picks up the action 10 years later. Yossi is now Dr. Guttman, a successful cardiologist. But, despite his professional achievements, he remains in an emotional and social fog. His depression begins to lift, however, when he encounters a group of rowdy young soldiers.

“Yossi” is helmed by gay director Eytan Fox, who has been a key player in both the fight for gay and lesbian rights in Israel and the renaissance of Israeli film. The strong cast is led award-winning Israeli actor Ohad Knoller, who amazingly brings Yossi’s stupor to vivid life, offering a rich and nuanced portrayal of a man frozen in place, but bravely trying to move forward. In Hebrew, with English subtitles. Opens March 8 at the Landmark E Street Cinema.

“Let My People Go!” (2011), which played to a sell-out crowd at the Jewish Film Festival, is a semi-autobiographical romantic farce by queer French filmmaker Mikael Buch. The movie stars the talented Nicolas Maury as the director’s alter ego, Rueben, a French man working as a mailman in Finland and living with his sexy Nordic boyfriend Teemu.

Rueben is unexpectedly forced to flee his idyllic Scandinavian life and return to his zany Jewish family in France: his philandering father, his long-suffering mother (played by Almodovar goddess Carmen Maura from “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown”), his uptight and upright brother, and his sister who is married to a fading TV star. After a series of zany misadventures including seductions, fist-fights and fainting spells, the family finally settles down for a delayed Passover Seder. In French and Finnish, with English subtitles. Opens March 15 at the West End Cinema.

A very different road trip is the subject of Walter Salles’ adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s classic Beat novel, “On the Road” (2012). Like the novel, the movie is a thinly veiled recreation of the famous cross-country road trip taken by Kerouac with his friend Neal Cassady and Cassady’s girlfriend LuAnne Henderson. Sam Riley plays Kerouac’s alter ego Sal Paradise and Garrett Hedlund plays the charismatic Dean Moriarty (based on Cassady). Kristen Stewart appears as Moriarty’s girlfriend Marylou and Viggo Mortenson and Tom Sturridge are featured as characters based on William S. Burroughs (author of “Naked Lunch”) and Allen Ginsburg (the openly gay poet who wrote “Howl”).

Reunited with screenwriter Jose Rivera (the two worked together on “The Motorcycle Diaries,” a road movie inspired by the life of Che Guevara), Salles unflinchingly recreates the artistic, philosophical and sexual awakening of Paradise. The film combines a celebration of the Beat writers and the women and gay men who were part of their world along with an understanding of the misogyny and homophobia that ultimately underscored much of their work. The movie includes explicit shots of nonconforming sex (a graphic anal scene between Hedlund and Steve Buscemi and a scene where Stewart simultaneously pleasures both Hedlund and Riley), but the focus remains on the sexual liberties taken by the straight white writers.

“On the Road” finally opens in D.C. on March 22 at Landmark E Street Cinema.

The 2013 D.C. Independent Film Festival runs March 6-10 and includes films, seminars and master classes that celebrate international independent movies. This year’s offerings include “A Cure” by Matthew Herbertz, a short film about Sarah, a young girl who is pulled out of school and is forced to undergo reparative therapy when her mother finds out her sexual interest in other girls. It screens March 9 at the U.S. Navy Heritage Center at the Archives Metro Station. For more information, go to

Two mainstream films that are sure to gather sizeable gay and lesbian audiences are “Oz the Great and Powerful” (March 8) and “The Great Gatsby” (May 10). “Oz” is a prequel to popular books by L. Frank Baum and stars the category-defying James Franco as a carnival magician who arrives in a fantasy land and must use his wits to stay ahead of three witches (Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz and Mila Kunis) who have their sights on him.

Gay favorite Baz Luhrmann (“Moulin Rouge,” “Shakespeare’s R&J”) returns to the big screen with his 3-D adaptation of the classic American novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan as the doomed lovers and Tobey Maguire as the enigmatic narrator Nick Carraway. The troubled movie was pulled from a December 2012 release, but audiences may be won over by Catherine Martin’s opulent design palette.


Film fest fix

Let My People Go, Jewish Film Festival, gay news, Washington Blade

A scene from the French comedy ‘Let My People Go (Photo courtesy of the Jewish Film Festival)

Need to fill your movie fix? There are plenty opportunities with the Tribeca Film Festival kicking off this Wednesday, the Northern Virginia Jewish Film Festival starting on Thursday and the screening of the documentary “Married and Counting” at the Creative Alliance (3134 Eastern Ave., Baltimore).

The Tribeca requires a trip to New York but might be worth the effort. This year’s festival features several films with LGBT themes, including “G.B.F,” a movie following the experiences of Tanner, the first openly gay student in his school; “Bridegroom” follows the experiences of Shane and Tom, who for six years remained united despite societal prejudices until a tragic accident puts a halt to their dreams; “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?” a movie about optometrist Weichung, who is finding married life difficult and suddenly runs into an old flame; and several more films addressing LGBT themes. For more information about the locations of the screenings or tickets, visit

The Northern Virginia Jewish Film Festival screens the movie “Let My People Go!” a comedic blend of gay romantic comedy and Jewish family drama. The film chronicles the experiences of Reuben, a French-Jewish mailman living in Finland with his Nordic boyfriend. A fight right before Passover sends Reuben back to Paris and his family. This particular movie is screening on April 25 at 4:45 p.m. and April 27 at 9:15 p.m at the Angelika Film Center and Café (2911 District Avenue, Fairfax, Va.) Tickets for this particular screening is $11. Attendees can also buy a festival pass for $60. Visit for more information.

And in Baltimore, the documentary “Married and Counting” follows gay couple Stephen Mosher and Pat Dwyer as they make it their goal to get married in every state where it is legal. This year marks their 25th anniversary. The event begins at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday. Mosher and Dwyer will be present after the one-night screening to be married to celebrate Question 6’s passage in Maryland. Tickets are $7-$12. For details, visit


D.C. arts briefs: Dec. 28

Bevy of New Year’s Eve options available

Looking for a party on New Year’s Eve? Here are a few shows and places that are sending 2012 out in good fashion:

Special Agent Galactica returns with her show at the Black Fox Lounge (1723 Connecticut Ave., NW) to ring in the New Year Monday night at 10. Galactica’s show is very appropriate for the holiday since the performer’s birth on New Year’s Eve 2003. She will be performing with her live jazz band with special guests Barbara Papendorp, DonMike Mondoza, Regie Cabico and Russwin Francisco. Party favors and a countdown are included with the show. There is no cover for this event. For more information, visit

Cobalt (1639 R St., N.W) hosts its New Year’s Eve party Monday night at 9 p.m. with DJ Madscience and recording artist Debby Holiday. There is a $15 cover or $75 all-inclusive with open bar and pre-sale tickets. For more information, visit

The Black Cat (1811 14th St., N.W.) has its New Years Eve Ball with Peaches O’Dell and her orchestra Monday night at 8 p.m. Peaches offers a blend of swing dance music, romantic fare from the 1930s and 1940s, Latin style music including rumbas and tangos and Hollywood’s greatest hits. DJs will also be throwing down on their backstage. Cover is $25.

Jackson rings in new year at Kennedy Center

Out actor/singer Cheyenne Jackson plays D.C. on New Year’s Eve.  (Photo by Karl Simone; courtesy Jackson)

Out actor/singer Cheyenne Jackson plays D.C. on New Year’s Eve. (Photo by Karl Simone; courtesy Jackson)

The Kennedy Center (2700 F St., NW) spends New Year’s Eve night in style with Cheyenne Jackson and Music of the Mad Men Era tonight at 8:30 pm.

Jackson, a Broadway, film and television star, is joined by vocalist Nina Arianda and members of the National Symphony Orchestra as they perform sounds of the 1950s and 1960s.

After the show patrons are welcome to celebrate the New Year with dancing and music by D.C. jazz band Chaise Lounge in the Grand Foyer.

Tickets are $50 to $150. For more information, visit

Jewish Film Festival features gay content

The Washington Jewish Film Festival kicks off Jan. 3 and features a gay-themed romantic comedy set in France called “Let My People Go!” that will be screened on Jan. 10 at 6:30 p.m. at La Maison Francaise at the Embassy of France (4101 Reservoir Road, NW) and Jan. 12 at 8:30 at the D.C. Jewish Community Center (1529 16th Street, NW).

Reuben and his mother in a scene from ‘Let My People Go!’ a gay-themed French comedy that will be screened in D.C. as part of the Jewish Film Festival. (Still courtesy JFF)

Reuben and his mother in a scene from ‘Let My People Go!’ a gay-themed French comedy that will be screened in D.C. as part of the Jewish Film Festival. (Still courtesy JFF)

This French film with English subtitles tells the story of lovelorn Reuben, a French-Jewish mailman living in Finland with his gorgeous Nordic boyfriend. Just before Passover, a lovers’ quarrel exiles Reuben back to Paris and his zany family—including Almodovar goddess Carmen Maura as his ditzy mom, and Jean-François Stévenin as his lothario father.

Visit for ticket prices and more information.