Slamdance Film Festival seeks out the alternative, available virtually Feb 12 to 25, 2021
Running February 12-25, Slamdance offers a virtual program of films, consisting of 25 features, along with 107 shorts and episodics for the 27th edition of the festival, a number that equals previous editions of the festival.
A two-week virtual festival experience brings everything Slamdance has to offer to a global online audience, featuring short and feature film programs, filmmaker Q&A’s, jury and audience awards presentations, workshops and panels with notable alumni, and Slamdance’s first program for filmmakers with disabilities called Unstoppable. The showcase will provide revenue sharing from sponsor proceeds for filmmakers and free online viewing opportunities for audiences.
“Slamdance ‘21 isn’t about compromise because of the pandemic. It’s about community, accessibility and growth. It’s about Slamdance’s future and the love of independent film.” President and Co-founder, Peter Baxter
Grab your festival pass for only $10, allowing you access to all screening.
See below for our BUZZ Picks:
Workhorse Queen (Feature)
If there’s only one movie to watch in in the festival, let it be this one! By day, Ed Popil worked as a telemarketer in Rochester, New York for 18 years. By night, he transformed into drag queen Mrs. Kasha Davis, a 1960’s era housewife trying to liberate herself from domestic toil through performing at night in secret –an homage to Ed’s mother. After seven years of auditioning to compete on RuPaul’s Drag Race, Mrs. Davis was finally cast onto the television show and thrust into a full-time entertainment career at the late age of 44, which is like 99 in drag years.
The film explores the complexities of reality television’s impact on queer performance culture by focusing on the growing divide within members of a small town drag community in Rochester, between those who have been on television, and those who have not. However, the story is more than just about drag culture, as it delves into the complexities associated with the industry, such as always having to be on the ball, and the constant allure of drugs and alcohol.
Mr. Davis (Popil’s real life husband) has a strong presence as well, and the film gets up close and personal with both individuals, from their childhood upbringing to each having been married previously, both to women. In terms of drag docs, this one stands out for its candidness and honesty.
In addition to Mrs. Kasha Davis, the film also includes the voices and perspectives of drag queen celebrities who have been on RuPaul’s Drag Race, such as Bianca Del Rio, Darienne Lake, Tatianna, and Pandora Boxx.
Kenny Scharf: When Worlds Collide (Feature)
Along with friends Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat, Kenny Scharf grew from a graffiti artist into a major force in the 1980s NYC art scene. Obsessed with garbage, cartoons, and plastic, this playful Peter Pan’s roller coaster career flourished despite the decimation of the AIDS crisis and the fickle tastes of the art world and continues to create colorful, complex work that puts him at the forefront of where popular culture meets fine art.
Wonderful film that chronicles the untold story of this great artist, who is still creating great work in Los Angeles, living with his family. It shows the complexities and challenges surviving as an artist, and the hardships endured losing so many close friends.
In France Michelle is a Man’s Name (Short)
Michael, a young trans man, returns home to the rural American West after years of estrangement from his parents. The short explores trans identity, masculinity, and the prices we’re willing to pay for acceptance. It was completed in 2020, directed by Em Weinstein (they/them), and produced by a group of trans, female, and queer filmmakers. Set against the backdrop of the American West, this 12-minute film also explores fatherhood, rituals of male bonding, and what it means to identify as a trans man in contemporary America. The film could be triggering to some, specifically during the very redneck father/son bonding experience that the father seems to take pride in, knowing very well he’s doing it to embarrass his son. The film premiered at Outfest in August, 2020 and won the Grand Jury Prize. It has since played at AFI Fest, Newfest, and the New Orleans Film Festival.
After being estranged from his family for his homosexuality, we observe a young Arab man over four seasons from far away as he navigates his solitude – all the while attempting to reconnect with his mother.
A ruthless hitman for the 18th Street gang serves his sentence in an isolation cell in El Salvador. But in prison, Geovanny is not just guilty of his crimes, but of an unforgivable sin under God and gang: being gay.
Friend of a Friend (Short)
A young man is sexually assaulted and subdues, punishes, then befriends his own attacker while confronting his past and the ambiguities of sexuality.
A foley artist creates sounds for a film featuring a dressage horse and dissolves into his own imitation. Shot on 16mm film, PASSAGE is contemporary and sensual homage to the origin of cinema, with a thrilling performance from queer artist and performer Simon(e) Jaikiriuma Paetau.
Bleeding Audio (Feature)
BLEEDING AUDIO is an intimate portrait detailing The Matches story while answering the question of why the band called it quits when they were so close to breaking out. The Matches had a promising career, a defeating break up, and inspiring reunion and it is told through the eyes of bandmates Shawn, Jon, Matt, and Justin. Their story is not necessarily unique, as many bands were taken out by the digital age of the music industry, but in the documentary interviews, it is apparent most musicians and industry executives had a similar reflection on how the industry has changed.
Progressive Touch (Short)
Filmmaker Michael Portnoy’s futuristic, queer absurdist “porn” short, Progressive Touch, is having its US premiere at Slamdance. It depicts three real couples, who are contemporary dancers, in slapstick sexual scenarios – where the rhythm and choreography is complicated ridiculously. It’s one of the rare times where explicit sex, comedy, and dance fuse into a truly uncanny mixture (aka math-metal blowjobs!). Portnoy is a renowned performance and visual artist, exhibiting in museums worldwide.
Wild Heart 1981 / 2020 (Short)
While browsing YouTube at the start of the 2020 COVID pandemic, a narrator grabs a camcorder and shares their thoughts about the video platform. The narrator lingers on a video of Stevie Nicks singing “Wild Heart” in the studio of Annie Liebovitz in 1981.
Rumi and His Roses (Short)
Using love letters tucked in bootleg DVD menus, a gay Iranian recounts his first relationship and its end.
About the Author
Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.