For the seventh year, the Portland Queer Documentary Film Festival—the only one of its kind in the country—returns for a weekend of gender-bending, boundary-breaking and cross-dressing, with a healthy dose of tragedy. Here are three highlights:
Interior. Leather Bar.
Critic's Grade: B [DIRECTOR ATTENDING] "Fucking" James Franco and gay art-porn director Travis Mathews team up to make a docudrama about making a gay art-porn film. The goal: to re-create the 40 minutes of footage apparently cut from the 1980 Al Pacino flick Cruising, which featured graphic sex in a gay nightclub. As things get more and more pornographic, and it becomes increasingly clear Franco has no idea what he's doing, the actor playing Pacino playing an undercover cop begins to freak out at what he's gotten himself into just for the sake of being part of Franco's "mission." Confusing? It is, but unlike our protagonist, it's best not to overthink it—just sit back and enjoy the meta-commentary on male sexuality and Franco's fame, and all the big, throbbing penises. RUTH BROWN. 9:15 pm Friday, May 17, at Kennedy School. Co-director Travis Mathews will attend.
Critic's Grade: B [SUBJECT ATTENDING] Porn star Buck Angel has a thick neck, a ginger Fu Manchu mustache and a shaved head. He has tribal tattoos down his muscled arms and the word "Pervert" inked across his back. He also has a vagina. Angel was born a girl but always identified as male, and he's transitioned to a man in every way but one. When Angel films a scene with a transwoman, the two look every part the heterosexual couple—except the machinery operates in the opposite direction expected. This baffles some around him, none more so than his father, a manly man who sees Angel as a sexual oddity yet still aches to understand him. Dan Hunt's film, which took six years to make, wisely doesn't dwell on definitions, and while Angel's comments about nonconformity can grow trite, they still ring genuine. REBECCA JACOBSON. 9:30 pm Saturday, May 18, at Kennedy School. Buck Angel will attend.
Critic's Grade: B+ [DIRECTOR ATTENDING] Lawrence King never stood a chance. A biracial foster kid in a conservative town, he didn't know eighth-grade boys aren't supposed to wear women's clothing and profess their love for other boys. For that, in 2008, he was shot in the back of the head by a classmate. The prevailing attitude in the aftermath—that King's murder was somehow inevitable, maybe even his fault—frames the outrage burbling beneath Valentine Road. (Full disclosure: I lived in Oxnard, Calif., where the incident occurred, and have loose connections to some of the people involved.) Director Marta Cunningham shows sympathy for the shooter—then-14-year-old Brandon McInerney, currently serving a 21-year jail sentence—by detailing a childhood with a drug-addict mother and fuckup stepfather, while refusing to paint him as the victim. The film isn't outwardly angry, but comments from jurors, defense attorneys and, especially, teachers at the school where the shooting occurred will make you want to punch a hole in the screen. MATTHEW SINGER. 7 pm Sunday, May 19, at Kennedy School. Director Marta Cunningham will attend.