Reel Pride puts on a real good show

Jason A. Michael
By | 2003-05-02T09:00:00-05:00 May 2nd, 2003|Uncategorized|

ROYAL OAK – There are three fabulous film-filled days left but unless the level of excellency should somehow fall off the cliff of fantastic flicks shown so far, it’s safe to say that the third annual Reel Pride Michigan GLBT Film Festival is a full-out success.
Five days in, and the festival has already had four sold-out screenings. All the films have been well attended and all of them – the comedies, dramas, documentaries and shorts – have all been powerful in their own way. The credit, of course, goes to the festival’s host committee and the employees of the Triangle Foundation, the festival’s producer.
Triangle’s Executive Director Jeff Montgomery said his staff is “the most hardworking group of LGBT activists you’ll ever see.” He also gave props to the host venue for the festival, the Royal Oak Main Art Theatre, which he said was “almost a gay film festival all year long.”
The opening night feature, “Straight Jacket,” was a hilariously funny film. Frantically paced and packed with hysterical one-liners, the film had the crowd in fits of riotous laughter throughout. In attendance was of one of the film’s stars, Adam Greer.
“It has been a real labor of love for me,” Greer said of “Straight Jacket” afterward. “It started as a play in New York in 2000.”
Sunday started on a serious note that was held throughout most of the day. The short “One Wedding and a Revolution” told the story of the marriage of Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin, the first same-sex couple to be married in the city of San Francisco. Next up was “Gay Pioneers,” a look back at the first formal homosexual civil rights demonstrations in the country. A brunch followed the film, where 79-year-old Franklin Kameny, one of the film’s subjects, fielded questions.
When asked what made him come out at a time when homosexuality was deemed unacceptable, Kameny said, “I never decided or thought that it wasn’t okay. Other people don’t do my thinking for me. I knew gay was wonderful when it happened to me as an adolescent in the 30s and 40s.”
With full stomachs and heavy hearts, festival goers then saw “In Good Conscience,” a full-length feature that chronicles Sister Jeannine Gramick’s journey to Rome to deliver a copy of her gay-friendly book to the Cardinal who ordered her to cease ministering to gays and lesbians.
The film is “82 minutes of pure humor, humility and humanity,” said director Barbara Rick, who took a photo of the packed theatre to send to Cardinal Maida of the Archdiocese of Detroit, who refused to allow a reception for Gramick to be held in a local Catholic church. “I just want him to know he sold out the house.”
“God would not be very happy with Cardinal Maida right now,” Rick continued. “And as a veteran of 16 years of Catholic school, I know when God’s happy and when he’s not.”
Stephanie Newman, Triangle’s events coordinator and the festival’s producer, said Gramick’s visit was the highlight of the festival for her so far.
“It’s about entertaining but it can be about so much more and yesterday I saw that come to life,” she said Monday. “So many people came up to Sister Gramick and said, ‘Now I feel like this is still my church.’ I’m not Catholic but that was so amazing to me. This has been the most exciting year yet for the festival.”
And the excitement isn’t over.
Wednesday night’s lineup includes a series of men’s short films, including “In Any House,” “Same Difference,” “I Like Mike,” “Stunt Cocks,” “Blessing,” “NightShadows,” “The Elevator,” and “Stag Party.” The feature “Harry and Max” showing with the short “Straight In The Face,” are to follow. On Thursday, “Dorian Blues” will show for a second time before the critically acclaimed “Bear Cub” plays at 9:30 p.m.
For Friday night’s closing the first feature is “Callas Forever,” a new telling about the last year of the famed opera diva’s turbulent life. “Girl Play” is scheduled to close the festival and will be shown with the short “Breaking Up Really Sucks.” An after party at the Jim Fresard dealership down the street will wrap things up for this year.
If you haven’t checked out the film festival this year – or heck, even if you have – get out to the Main, take in these last films and let the magic of gay cinema move you.

About the Author:

Jason A. Michael
Jason A. Michael earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Wayne State University before joining Between The Lines as a contributing writer in 1999. Jason has received both the Spirit of Detroit Award (presented by the Detroit City Council) and the Media Award from the Community Pride Banquet & Awards Ceremony for his writing and activism. Jason is also an Essence magazine bestselling author having written the authorized biography "Strength Of A Woman: The Phyllis Hyman Story," which he released on his own JAM Books imprint.