By Hans Pedersen, March 2017 Issue.
The Watermelon Woman
Now playing on iTunes | Unrated | 90 Minutes
This 1996 indie, written and directed by Cheryl Dunye, is a rare gem that was restored by the Outfest Legacy Project. The first known work by a black lesbian director, it’s about Philly video store worker and budding filmmaker Cheryl, who’s enamored of 1930s film actress Fae Richards. Uncovering Fae’s secret affair with a female director, Cheryl faces challenges as she explores black film history and documents its lost lesbian chapters. Deserving of wider distribution than it received, this indie remains a fun nostalgic glimpse into the 1990s as well as the 1930s (albeit Richards is a fictitious character), and includes a cameo by cultural critic Camille Paglia.
This Is Everything: Gigi Gorgeous
Now Playing on YouTube Red | 91 minutes
Two-time Academy Award-winning documentary director Barbara Kopple helms this film about a YouTube celebrity who demonstrates love and strength to millions while coming out as transgender. The documentary chronicles how Canadian diver Greg Lazzarato began sharing fashion and makeup tips on his YouTube channel, came out as gay and stood up to homophobia. Lazzarato amassed legions of fans and, in 2013, ultimately announced plans to transition to female. Kopple shows how a loving family and supportive community helped launch the meteoric rise of Gigi Lazzarato, aka Gigi Gorgeous, so it certainly seems appropriate the acclaimed filmmaker is premiering her latest work on YouTube.
Available on DVD March 7
Unfolding in the span of one week in a southern French town, this coming-of-age drama focuses on a strange teenager and a family that’s embroiled in conflict. Elliott’s parents are preparing to break up, and his mother, Beatrice, is anticipating the sale of their vacation home. Elliott feels a burgeoning and undeniable sexual attraction to guys, and a local teen, Clément, forces him to face his desires. Andrew Steggall makes his directing debut with this drama that stars Alex Lawther, who played a young Alan Turing in The Imitation Game.
Available on DVD March 14 | 116 minutes | Unrated
From acclaimed French director André Téchniné (Wild Reeds, Girlhood) comes this welcome representation of interracial intimacy that develops between two teens in conflict. Damien lives with his mother, a doctor, while his dad is overseas. Thomas, whose mother is pregnant, spends three hours traveling to school each day. When Damien’s mom ends up caring for Thomas’ mom, the lives of these teenagers are thrown together and tensions continue to mount when Thomas is invited to live with Damien and his family. Fist fights soon break out, but their relationship evolves and deeper passions eventually bubble to the surface.