Preview: The Tribeca Film Festival


By Mike Berlin

The 1970 release of William Friedkin's The Boys in the Band was a watershed moment in queer cinema. The mainstream film was the first of it's kind in that it featured an almost exclusively gay cast that spoke openly, and wittily, about the gay lifestyle of late 1960's New York. When it came out, though, The Boys in the Band received a frosty greeting from the community it sought to portray. Adapted from Mart Crowley's play, it tells of a campy birthday party -- featuring characters of every gay stereotype -- that quickly turns into a booze-fueled night of self-loathing and moral instability.

So it's interesting that the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival choose The Boys in the Band as part of their Restored/Rediscovered series. Over the next week, as the festival continues, over 80 films -- four LGBT films to be exact -- will debut, many with hopes of being picked up for national distribution. Below is our review of the gay films competing for TFF attention this year, all of which are diverse offspring of the legacy that films like Friedkin's began.

An Englishman in New York
Directed by Richard Laxton

An Englishman in New York is as much a biopic of controversial gay icon Quentin Crisp as it is a character study of homosexual identity in 1980's and '90s New York. Shot in a disconnected, episodic manner, the film focuses on the British quipster at the height of his stardom, speaking on variety shows and tickling American crowds with his patented brand of quirky solipsism. But the effeminately dressed Crisp quickly finds his self-deprecating views of homosexuality and love on trial, in particular when he publicly refers to AIDS as a gay 'fad.' Now at odds with the homos who once loved him, he must face the reality of the situation -- the ominous metastasis of AIDS and the proliferation of the gay rights movement -- in ways he never thought he would. The film's star, John Hurt, became famous acting as a younger version of Crisp 30 years ago in The Naked Civil Servant. And in part two, he absolutely flourishes with the wry wit and charm of the man he was made to play.

Mon, Apr 27, 9:30PM
Wed, Apr 29, 1:30PM
Sat, May 02, 6:45PM

The Fish Child (El 'ino Pez)
Directed by Luc'a Puenzo

For those who like their psychosexual Argentinean thrillers chock full of hot, angsty lesbian action, might we suggest The Fish Child (El 'ino Pez). In the gilded household of a prominent Buenos Aires judge, a furtive love affair between two young women, Lala (the daughter) and Gauyi (the maid), quickly turns dangerous when the couple haphazardly attempts to run away to Paraguay. Naturally, things go wrong -- very wrong -- and the two are separated both lawfully and geographically. Will that stop them from trying to reunite? And will the sordid secrets of Gauyi's past turn Lala away? Of course not -- these women are goddamn insane for each other! It's watching what happens to the others who get in their way that's most entertaining.

Mon, Apr 27, 6:15PM
Tue, Apr 28, 2:00PM
Wed, Apr 29, 9:15PM
Sat, May 02, 2:00PM