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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

Fabulous! The Story of Queer Cinema (review)

It’s unfortunate that probably, most of the audience for this touching and celebratory documentary will be those who don’t really need to see it, though of course there no reason that gays, lesbians, transgendereds, bixesuals, and sympathetic heteros shouldn’t celebrate and be touched. No, it’s those who think that “gay movies” started with Brokeback Mountain who need to see this overview of the history of queer cinema, from its earliest days at the very beginning of the gay rights movement as an underground genre to the revolution of home video expanding its horizons to the beginning of the mainstreaming of queer stories and images today. Interviews with actors, filmmakers, and critics, all heroes and champions of GLBT cinema — including Ang Lee, Gus Van Sant, John Waters, Alan Cumming, Christine Vachon, Heather Matarazzo, Michael Musto, and many, many more — frame a timeline that starts with, well, nothing, as even the youngest of them lament the absence of stories on film that represented their longings and their lives when they were confused adolescents. (The bonus features are mostly unused snippets of the interviews with many of them, and are as delightful as the actual film itself.) Fans of independent cinema in general will also find the movie, produced for the Independent Film Channel, a fascinating exploration of the passion that drives filmmakers who are in the game for something more than fame and fortune.

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MPAA: not rated

viewed at home on a small screen

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