Every year, we look forward to Damn! These Heels, Salt Lake City’s LGBT film festival. We look forward to it because it makes us laugh, cry and think. It brings films that may never be screened in Utah otherwise to the Rose Wagner Theatre. Depending on your mood, we picked three films you need to see at this year’s fest.
Mala Mala (directed by Antonio Santini and Dan Sickles)
Mala Mala is an eye-opening film exploring Puerto Rico’s trans communities, from sex workers on the street to the ladies on stage.
The film doesn’t pull punches and dives into the lives of a unique and diverse set of individuals. We see them in times of weakness, strength, sadness and jubilation (like the moment performer April Carrión learns she’s been cast on RuPaul’s Drag Race).
The film was praised by critics at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival, and rightfully so. Along with stunning cinematography, it has a heart and touches on civil rights. As you follow the story of these individuals (also including one trans-man), a bill to outlaw discrimination against transgender individuals is hotly debated and explored from all sides.
Viewers also see inside The Doll House, where Puerto Rico’s top queens perform, and the formation of transgender advocacy group the Butterfly Trans Association.
In the end, all of the stories told in the film come together with a hopeful message. The takeaway point we got from the film: “You are your essence.”
Tom at the Farm (directed by Xavier Dolan)
This French-Canadian film follows Tom, who travels to the country for his lover Guillaume’s funeral.
Planning a heartfelt speech, he’s stopped in his tracks by Francis, Guillaume’s volatile brother and the only one who knows about Tom and Guillaume’s relationship. Threatened if the truth ever gets out, Tom forms a disturbing relationship with Francis and becomes a willing victim to abuse.
The film, which stars Dolan as Tom, won the FIPRESCI Prize at the 2013 Venice Film Festival, the People’s Choice Awards at the 2014 Istanbul International Film Festival and was an official selection for both the 2013 Venice Film Festival and the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.
Portions of this movie will be hard to watch, but important topics come up like acceptance for the LGBT community and why people stay or even go into abusive relationships.
Such Good People (directed by Stewart Wade)
After all that heavy thinking, treat yourself to this comedy.
It’s about Richard and Alex, who decide to get a look inside their dream home by crashing a party. After the do-gooder owners Jake and Chloe boast about how they’re off to help orphans in Bhutan, Richard and Alex are offered house-sitting duty. While living it up, things go haywire: Jake and Chloe are reported dead, Richard and Alex find stacks of hidden cash and Alex’s half-sister Paige and her husband Cooper go to war with Richard and Alex to claim the home.
The film’s filled with one-liners you’ll be repeating and quite a bit of ridiculousness. Don’t expect to be enlightened, just have fun with it. Bonus: Lance Bass in his most hilarious role yet, along with Michael Urie, Randy Harrison, Alec Mapa and Scott Wolf.
Such Good People was an official selection for the 2014 Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, 2014 FilmOut San Diego LGBT Film Festival and 2014 Adelaide Queen Culture and Film Festival.
Click here for a full schedule of screenings.