Thursday June 28, 2012

BRATTLEBORO -- CineSLAM, the gay film festival in southern Vermont, will celebrate its seventh annual screening of LGBT shorts from around the globe.

Opening Night films are screened Saturday at 6:15 p.m., (repeat screening 8:15 p.m.) at the Hooker-Dunham Theater, 139 Main St., with a Pride Dance party following at the Brattleboro American Legion Hall.

The next day the whole event moves out to Guilford’s Organ Barn for a late afternoon of films followed by a community barbecue. The screenings in the barn begin at 3 p.m.

This film festival of shorts, which closes this year’s area schedule of pride events for June, brings together films from around the country and allows audiences to get a glimpse of the diversity of life, struggles and triumphs of LGBT people and their allies in short narrative, documentary and art video formats.

CineSLAM is programmed by Guilford resident and Emmy-Award winning filmmaker John Scagliotti, who created the first LGBT television series, "In the Life," on PBS, which just completed its 20th season this month.

To mark this milestone, Scagliotti has included two "In the Life" producers’ short films in this year’s festival.

"It is amazing that something we started in 1990 as a fantasy dream -- the first gay and lesbian series on public television -- is still providing compelling programs to the general PBS audience 20 years later," said Scagliotti. "The gay community touches every aspect of contemporary life, influencing styles, attitudes and the arts. It is for anyone willing to accept the challenge that gay realities are human realities."

"In the Life" can be seen monthly on Vermont’s Public Television.

"In the Life" producer Matt Paco’s work "Changing the Game," about how LGBT people are influencing America’s second religion, sports, will screen in the Organ Barn on Sunday. This film is paired with another sports film (a sampler of the feature in production) that focuses on Olympic gold medal-winner Greg Louganis titled "Back on Board."

On Sunday afternoon, CineSLAM will also screen another "In the Life" producer’s work, Todd Cross’ "Transgender: The Path to One’s Identity." CineSLAM continues to emphasize the "T" in LGBT. This year San Francisco filmmaker, Stu Maddux, has created an exclusive film for the festival surrounding his inspiring character in his feature film "Gen Silent," about older LGBT folks. In this piece Krys-Anne, a transgender woman struggles to cope with her terminal illness, while tackling the everyday issues associated with her transition.

The subject of how older LGBT Americans can also be presented in a humorous way, will be seen with CineSLAM’s opening film "The Oldest Lesbian in the World." The audience will meet Bobbie Staff, nearly 100 years old, who reveals her secrets of the lesbian world in a time when such things were kept extremely closeted.

In this eclectic mix of films will be sprinkled a few narrative shorts like Becky Lane’s "Poker Face," where a girl’s night out around the poker table reveals a secret that changes how they see the world. Then audiences travel via celluloid to the Bahamas where filmmaker Kareem Mortimer created and filmed his short "Float." This film has won numerous awards in festivals and was the inspiration for his feature film last year titled "Children of God."

And in CineSLAM’s tradition of standing the world on its head, it screens "Freak," in which Eric Casaccio takes audiences on a journey of spiritual masks, butterflies, angels and fabulous wigs.

CineSLAM circles back in LGBT history when it presents as its closing film in the Organ Barn, "T’aint Nobody’s Business: Queer Blues Divas of the 1920s." The film explores the world of the Harlem Renaissance, where Betsy Smith and Ma Rainey reigned supreme.

CineSLAM filmmakers will have the opportunity to win the Chessie Award which will be announced at the barbecue following the screenings in the Organ Barn. The winner of the Best Short, named after the Chessie Foundation, which supports the festival, will receive a cash prize of $250 and an invitation to present the winning film on Pride of the Ocean Film Festival (sailing August 2013). Scagliotti is the program director of this festival on the high seas. 

There is limited seating at both the Hooker-Dunham and the Organ Barn in Guilford, so reservations are recommended. For Saturday at 6:15 p.m., repeated at 8:15 p.m., at the Hooker-Dunham, tickets are $10. Admission on Sunday to two film sessions plus a barbecue, from 3 to 6 p.m., tickets are $12. For those tickets, visit www.cineslam.com or contact Scagliotti at stonewal@sover.net. Once a reservation is made directions to the Organ Barn in Guilford will be sent via the e-mail or call Scagliotti at 802-254-4859.

CineSLAM is sponsored by The Kopkind Colony, a nonprofit project based in Guilford, which brings together political journalists, grassroots activists and independent documentary filmmakers, and was launched 14 years ago as a living memorial to the late Guilford resident and journalist Andrew Kopkind.