"For Your Consideration"
I adored "Three Veils." The more I meditated on "Elliot Loves," the better I liked it. But in the end, Jon Garcia’s film "The Falls" takes my big gay vote in this category, even though the movie’s sound quality is consistently below par and, in some cases, is downright awful. But the story and performances make up for the shortcomings of this spirited no-budget production: Two young Mormon missionaries (Nick Ferrucci and Ben Farmer) meet in the field and fall in love; they begin to question their church, realizing that the strict faith tradition they have known all their lives has censored a great deal of the real world, including their own true sexual natures. This film is everything "Latter Days" wanted to be... or at least everything I wanted "Latter Days" to be.
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
"Sleepless Knights," by co-writers / co-directors Stefan Butzmühlen and Cristina Diz, burrowed into my subconscious on first viewing, and it’s remained there ever since. It’s a strange film in many ways, and a film that doesn’t condescend by handing the viewer each and every piece of the story it wants to tell. As a result, it commands your full attention and, even as you watch, it creates a portrait of love between two men -- one (Jaime Pedruelo) a cop and lifelong resident of a small Spanish village, the other (Raùl Godoy) a native son who moved to the big city and now is back home for a spell -- who aren’t sure what to do about their feelings for one another. The village, and its elder citizens, are as much a part of this sweet and rich little gem as the two lovers at the center of the story; in a larger sense, this is a study of manhood and what it means across generations.
There were so, so many worthwhile documentaries out this year, from the eye-opening "(A)Sexual" to the chilling pray-away-the-gay opus "This is What Love in Action Looks Like" to the enraging documents of cruel injustice, murder, and anti-gay mayhem detailed in "Unfit: Ward vs. Ward" and "Call Me Kuchu."
There was also the heartbreaking, question-raising doc "Gone: The Disappearance of Aeryn Gillern," which traces the last days and hours of a gay American living in Vienna, who vanished in a puff of falsified police reports and other evidence of cover-up, leaving his mother -- a retired police officer -- to investigate his fate on her own.
Let me not forget to mention "We Were Here," a doc about the AIDS Crisis but... hold on, now... an exceptionally well done documentary about a subject that has been documentaried to death.
But even among this superlative slate of documentaries, "Question One," which looks at both sides of the marriage debate in the months leading up to the 2009 vote in Maine that scrapped a marriage equality law there, is a standout. The anti-gay side is full of homophobes and bigots (many of them blithely denying their bigotry), but it also has fascinating people of true integrity such as Marc Mutty, a leader of the successful effort to stymie marriage equality who is also a relatable, sympathetic, and thoughtful man. Voters in Maine recently reversed themselves and approved a ballot initiative that beings marriage equality to that state, but this documentary is crucial to understanding the path that led to last month’s victory there.
BEST DVD RELEASE
There are at least two movies that hit the GLBT film festival circuit last year that I’d hoped would see wider release than they managed to get this year. The two in question are Andrew Haigh’s "Weekend" and Alan Brown’s "Private Romeo." Thanks to the democratizing effect of DVDs they can enjoy the kind of wide release that matters most of all: They can play right in your living room. Thank the gods for that, because these movies both deserve... no, these movies both need to be seen by, well, just about everyone.
The former is a deep, affecting study of two young men (Tom Cullen and Chris New) in London who share a scant few days before one of them leaves to pursue studies abroad; the latter is an absolutely brilliant retelling of "Romeo and Juliet" set at an all-male military school. "Private Romeo" is a juicy last swipe at DADT, a stirring love story, and a ravishing new take on Shakespeare all in one indelible film.
There’s no way I can choose between "Weekend" and "Private Romeo," and because this is my column and I can pretty well do as I please, I am naming them both for this category. It’s not a tie so much as an acknowledgement that they’re both too good to ignore. (How good? Get this: With what may be unprecedented promptness, Criterion has already put out an edition of "Weekend." Now that’s impressive. But, hey, Criterion: When will you do the same for "Private Romeo?")
Whatever mainstream movies Oscar graces next year, I submit this short list as 2012’s unmissable essentials for GLBT cinema -- For Your Consideration.