Saturday, January 26, 2008

Seen at Queer Lounge

The furniture has been packed up and tucked safely away for another year. The beautifully-framed vintage movie posters of queer films shown at Sundance have been bubble wrapped until they can be displayed again. And the Queer Lounge sign has come down from its very prominent spot on Park City's Main Street. What we're left with is a strong sense of community, business cards and future opportunities.

Thousands of festival-goers, filmmakers, actors and industry types made their way through the doors of Queer Lounge for networking, educational panels, premiere parties and other mixers. Take a look at just a few of the familiar faces. . .

photos by

Special thanks to all the volunteers who came from all over the country to work long hours and fight off the cold, flu and other ailments passed around the Queer Lounge condo. Of course, none of this could be possible without the support of all of our sponsors, in particular Presenting Sponsor ABSOLUT VODKA, and Major Sponsors Bud Light and Fandango.

Red Premiere Party at Queer Lounge

You don't have to be gay — just an ally and a friend — to appreciate the Queer Lounge. Filmmakers of Red, showcased at Sundance, held their premiere party at the lounge and stars such as Brian Cox, Tim Daly, the Dave Matthews Band and more partied until the wee hours.

photos by

refers to a 14-year-old dog who is killed by troubled teens, only to have karma bite them in the ass when Red's owner (Brian Cox) seeks revenge. Reviewed here by Variety.

Friday, January 25, 2008

We did it!

Today we are finally packing up our snow-stained clothes and heading back to warmer climes. We had a great time here and hope that our readers had fun living vicariously through us!

Check out the video below, highlighting just some of the best moments at Queer Lounge.

Love the QL reel? Watch it on demand!

For those of you who spent any amount of time on the 2nd floor of Queer Lounge saw a series of movie trailers, GLAAD Media Awards coverage and great ads from ABSOLUT, Bud Light and Fandango running on a seemingly endless loop.

However, we've gotten requests to have the reel available in its entirety. No one says we don't listen to our readers! Check it out here: it's broken up into three parts.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

There's a Place for Gay Zombies

Saw Otto; or Up With Dead People and it may best be described as a gay gore horror mockumentary with zombies and sex, but even that doesn’t do it justice. Director Bruce LaBruce's storytelling doesn't shy away from soft-core porn elements, which has put the out director on the underground map—if there were a map of the underground (that's an inside Otto joke). We hosted a Queer Lounge panel featuring the director earlier this week and he said then that his filmmaking is often at odds — he presumed — with GLAAD because his highly-sexual characters aren’t “positive” gay role models.

I was happy to have had a chance to meet the director and hopefully dispel his notion that GLAAD rebels against images that may not be considere "positive." He thanked me for letting him know that GLAAD’s mission is to see “fair, accurate and inclusive” representations of LGBT lives on the screen — whether those be zombies or otherwise. While Otto may not be for everyone (between the flesh-eating and the hints of gratuitous sex, plenty of people walked out of the screening), I found the script to be campy sharp (ripe for a midnight movie) and the story a not-so-veiled-metaphor of the violence gay people face every day.

Sure, LGBT serial killers, in films like Basic Instinct and Silence of the Lambs, once raised red flags at GLAAD and for good reason; in the absence of “positive” images it’s necessary to get upset over the “negative” ones. But we’re in a different time now, where there are more representations of our lives in all forms of media. There’s room now for good, bad and plenty of grey shades in between. When there are two dozen LGBT-inclusive films screening at Sundance and Slamdance, and another two dozen at the Palm Springs International Film Festival, there are going to be LGBT images that run the gamut from positive to negative stereotypes, and odds are that many will fall into the "fair, accurate and inclusive" bucket.

And with Otto, Bruce has created a sexy horror spoof inclusive of gay people, er, zombies.

Take a look at a clip of Bruce at our Queer Lounge panel:

An interesting side note: At the Queer Lounge panel I sat next to the adorable Jey Crisfar, who plays Otto (above) with delightful abandon. Bruce revealed how he cast Jey for this pivotal part: "I found him on MySpace."

Half-Life Stars Remember Heath

The sudden and tragic loss of Heath Ledger is on the minds of many here in Park City.

As our friend Marc Malkin reports on E!'s Planet Gossip, Half-Life star Lee Marks (left) choked up when talking about the late actor at the Sundance premiere of his film. Marks says it was Ledger's role in Brokeback Mountain that helped inspire his own work in Half-Life, the story of a romance between an Asian American male and an African American male.

“I always told myself that when I was able to play a gay character, I'd feel that I had arrived as an actor,” Marks said while fighting back tears. “I read an article about how Heath developed his character and what the character felt. I watched Brokeback Mountain about 15 times.”

Co-star Leonardo Nam (above right), who grew up in Sydney, Australia, said he and Ledger hung out in the same social circle and shared an acting coach. “He was such a brave actor by the way he directed his own career, making choices such as Brokeback and now doing the Batman movie,” Nam said. "It's dangerous to reprise a role that has already been done by Jack Nicholson. It was incredible to choose that."

The Queer Sundance Movie Poster Show (1985-2007)

Throughout the run of Queer Lounge, the second floor has been packed with incredible movie posters of LGBT films which have screened at Sundance during the last two decades. Curated by Jenni Olson (author, The Queer Movie Poster Book) and Ellen Huang (founder and program director of Queer Lounge), the posters reflect the great range of gay cinema.

Highlights included the key art of classics like Desert Hearts (1985) and Parting Glances (1986) to recent favorites like Saving Face (2005) and this year's Pariah.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Ellen Tells All!

We are pleased to offer an interview with Ellen Huang, Queer Lounge's founder and program director for GLAAD. Learn how Queer Lounge got its start and what Ellen thinks is the best part of the Lounge in '08. You may be surprised by her answer!

Rex Lee: Sundance and Beyond

Our friend Rex Lee from HBO's Entourage has made the rounds at Sundance the past few days, presenting the nominations for the GLAAD Media Awards, and telling his own "When I Knew" story at a Queer Lounge panel based on the book and HBO documentary.

Today we are releasing our latest Be an Ally & a Friend PSA and it just so happens to star -- drum roll please -- Mr. Rex Lee. While it may seem like I am wearing a crush on Rex on my sleeve, the PSA has long been on our calendar to release in recognition of Lunar New Year.

The PSA will make its broadcast television premiere on Thursday, February 7, on ImaginAsian TV (iaTV) and AZN Television in honor of the Chinese New Year, which is the largest Lunar New Year celebration within the East Asian community. But you don't have to wait until then and can see it here...

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Calling all filmmakers: You CAN distribute films yourselves!

As many burgeoning filmmakers know, figuring out how to distribute your finished product can be difficult, terrifying and/or frustrating. Queer Lounge hosted a strong panel today filled with experts from all areas of the spectrum, ready to answer the toughest of questions from the audience, many of whom were filmmakers and distributers themselves.

Two indie directors, Maurice Jamal (Dirty Laundry) and Hunter Weeks (10mph) were on hand to share their own experiences with self-distribution. Leslie Nuccio (Cafe Press) and Maria Lynn (Wolfe Video) were available to discuss marketing. There was even a representative from YouTube, George Strompolos, to talk about the option of having an entire original film posted on the site and even ad revenue sharing opportunities. Frameline's Michael Lumpkin moderated the panel.

Maurice Jamal described how he self-distributed and promoted his two films, Ski Trip and Dirty Laundry.

He also gave some advice to young filmmakers on how to market their work.

The Advocate joins Queer Lounge for a frank discussion

It may have been snowing outside, but the temperature inside Queer Lounge was raised by its sixth and final panel, "Gay Filmmakers and Sexual Provocation," presented by The Advocate. Out directors Bruce LaBruce (Otto; or Up with Dead People), Isaac Julien (Derek) and Lesli Klainberg (Fabulous! The Story of Queer Cinema) joined moderator Kyle Buchanan (film critic for The Advocate) for a lively discussion of sexuality in lesbian and gay cinema.  Check out some highlights below! 

Bruce LaBruce talks about his early days in filmmaking:

Isaac Julien discusses Derek Jarman's 1976 film Sebastiane

Lesli Klainberg examines how film has changed since the '90s.

EXCLUSIVE: An Interview with Oscar-Nominated Cynthia Wade

Just hours after receiving word that she had been nominated for an Oscar for her short doc Freeheld, director-producer Cynthia Wade joined me at the Queer Lounge in Park City for her first sit-down interview.

As GLAAD's Entertainment Media Director, I have been following the path of this film since seeing its premiere here at Sundance once year ago, encouraging everyone to see it who has the opportunity. The moving story of Laurel Hester has the capacity to change hearts and minds and, as you'll hear from Cynthia, is doing just that. With the Oscar nod, Freeheld is poised to reach an even larger audience during this election year with its important message.

As a married mother of two, Cynthia has gone above and beyond in taking a stand for LGBT equality and carrying on Laurel Hester's legacy. She is quickly becoming one of our strongest straight allies, and for that, we are extremely grateful.

Oscar Nod Goes to Freeheld

Woke up this morning in Park City to the great news that the documentary short Freeheld, from Cynthia Wade and Vanessa Roth, has picked up an Oscar nomination in the Best Documentary Short Subject category. The film chronicles the final days of police detective Laurel Hester as she fights to transfer her pension benefits to her domestic partner before she dies. It was one year ago that Freeheld premiered here at Sundance (it won the festival's Special Jury Prize), and wherever it has been shown on its path to Oscar gold, it has moved audiences to tears. The filmmakers did an emotional interview of Hester speaking about the film, shot six weeks before her death.

Also nominated in the same Oscar category is a short doc that is currently showing here at Sundance: La Corona (The Crown), about a unique beauty pageant in a women's prison in Bogota.


Monday, January 21, 2008

When I Knew

Ask yourself that question. When did you know you were gay? Lesbian? Bisexual? Transgender? Different?
In 2005, photographer Robert Trachtenburg published a book of personal stories, filled with people answering that very question. His book inspired award-winning filmmakers Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato (Eyes of Tammy Faye, Party Monster and Inside Deep Throat) to travel the country with their cameras and ask ordinary people to tell their stories of when they realized they were gay.

Queer Lounge presented its fourth panel of the week this afternoon in honor of the launch of the HBO Documentary. The panel was moderated by The Advocate's Editor in Chief Anne Stockwell and hosted by HBO and World of Wonder. Panelists included the filmmakers, Trachtenburg and out actor Rex Lee.

Learn more about the film here:

The film also has also set up a video booth where Queer Loungers can share their own stories of when they knew and have it broadcast onto

Rex shares his own "When I Knew" moment:

Alan Cumming Message Premieres During Sundance

During last night's GLAAD's "And the Nominees Are..." reception at Queer Lounge, we made a special announcement. Actor Alan Cumming has filmed a special message about eradicating the use of the 'f-word.' And it was fitting that the world premiere of this public service announcement took place during the Sundance and Slamdance film festivals; the final product really is a beautifully-produced short, directed by the talented Kohta Asakura and produced by Joe Mantegna of ZOOMA ZOOMA.

The PSA will next be seen at the 19th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York City, on March 17, 2008, and will then be released to broadcasters to air as a one-minute or 30-second spot.

Queer Cinema: Is the term still relevant?

At the Savage Grace Queer Lounge panel on Saturday, out producer Christine Vachon addressed this question. 

It's great to be nominated!

Us Weekly's Senior Editor, Bradley Jacobs and West Coast Entertainment Editor, Jeffrey Epstein (on Bradley's phone), celebrate their first nomination with GLAAD Entertainment Media Director Damon Romine.

Queer Lounge Daily: Day 2

photos by

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Red carpet arrivals: "And the Nominees Are..."

Every year at the Sundance Film Festival, GLAAD hosts "And the Nominees Are...," an invitation-only event that announces the nominees of the GLAAD Media Awards. Check out who was there!

GLAAD Media Awards Nominations Announced at Queer Lounge

Check out this red carpet interview with out filmmakers Maurice Jamal (Dirty Laundry) and Cheryl Dunye (The Watermelon Woman). Dirty Laundry went on to receive a GLAAD Media Award nomination for Outstanding Film, Limited Release.

And this interview with "Pariah" stars Pernell Walker and Adepero Aduye:

Do Films Create Social Change?

That was the subject of a lively panel that just wrapped at the Queer Lounge. Guests included Participant Productions' Ricky Strauss, Current TV's Saskia Wilson-Brown, Killer Films' Christine Vachon, Live Earth's Kit Hawkins and Amy Berg, and our own Neil Giuliano, president of GLAAD.

When asked by moderator Sean Smith, Entertainment Weekly senior editor, "What film changed you?" Ricky recounted a story about when he worked at Tri-Star, a studio famous for Rambo and Terminator, and how impressed he was that his studio would even undertake a film as socially-relevant as Philadelphia. Neil recounted that Making Love was seminal for him, and Christine Vachon told the crowd that she was a P.A. on Parting Glances in her early 20s, and "It was the first film I had ever seen that took place in a gay world after everyone had already came out."

"What's interesting to note is how powerful the medium is to affect audiences," said Ricky, telling the story about how an episode of Happy Days led to a spike in library cards. "It's amazing how impressionable people are." Still it's difficult to measure social change, but one only has to look at how Participant's An Inconvenient Truth has created global awareness to climate change. "Any one who debates climate change now looks like an asshole," he pointed out.

Getting your message out now is a lot easier, everyone on the panel agreed. The online world has allowed any one to distribute and get their message out. "In the '60s people took to the streets, now people take to the computer," said Ricky. (Ironically, a fur protest was happening on Main Street outside the Queer Lounge at that very time.)

Filmmaker Chuck Griffith was in attendance and wondered if now that there are gay-centric film distributors and networks, if the major studios will pass on gay-themed films entirely. "It's incumbant on all of us to make sure that doesn't happen," said Neil.

Want to know how Christine Vachon thinks gay films have changed since the 1990s? Watch this video clip from the panel:

Sunday Morning Short Takes

The Queer Lounge kickoff event featuring The Donnas was a packed house. The party went to the wee hours of the morning (and if you know Sundance, that means post public transportation when folks line Main Street en masse hoping a cab comes along to get them out of the cold).

Anne Stockwell, editor of the Advocate, attended the Saturday PlanetOut Short Movie Awards at the Queer Lounge and the premiere of Pariah. Check out her blog here. Our friend JD breaks the news here that Effie Brown has signed on to produce the feature version of Pariah.