Cinema Spotlight: Queens & Cowboys

Queens & Cowboys: A Straight Year on the Gay Rodeo chronicles a complete season of the International Gay Rodeo Association. Roping and riding across North America, the IGRA’s courageous cowboys and cowgirls brave challenges both in and out of the arena on their quest to qualify for the World Finals at the end of the season. Along the way, they’ll bust every stereotype in the book.

Founded in 1985, the group currently has over 5000 members in 27 chapters all around North America. The association puts on massive rodeos across North America using only volunteers — and all their proceeds go to charity.

Still photo from Queens & Cowboys: A Straight Year on the Gay Rodeo

The film tells the story of five members of the International Gay Rodeo Association. From Wade Earp, a descendant of cowboy legend Wyatt Earp and one of the best competitors on the circuit; to Char Duran, a female bull rider who’s never won a buckle but seems determined to die trying; Queens & Cowboys weaves the stories of its protagonists over the course of an entire rabble-rousing year.

An unprecedented look at the strength it takes to be gay in the rural west, this film explores the many struggles threatening the IGRA and the LGBTQ community at large, how far society has come on the subject of LGBTQ equality, and how far we still have to go.

Still photo from Queens & Cowboys: A Straight Year on the Gay Rodeo

“I was originally doing research for a scripted television show I hoped to develop, a show about salt-of-the-earth rodeo cowboys roping and riding through the American west. It all stemmed from a trip to a Cody, Wyoming rodeo with my dad when I was only three years old. Since then, rodeo has always been a fascinating subject for me,” said director Matt Livadary. “The goal of this film is to start a conversation. Not about the differences in our sexuality, but in the commonalities that unite us.”

Queens & Cowboys is about passion, belonging, tradition — it’s about finding your bull and having the courage to, as Wade Earp puts it, “get up, dust yourself off, and keep going”. The film is now available on Dekkoo.

Still photo from Queens & Cowboys: A Straight Year on the Gay Rodeo

Pride Month Spotlight: Drag Heals

Produced and directed by prolific writer/director/actor/author Charlie David, Drag Heals is a terrific new documentary series that follows men who have never worn heels or make-up but have always dreamed of letting their inner drag queen out to play.

These men, and aspiring queens, enter Canada’s first-ever drag class to explore how to create a compelling drag persona based around their own personalities and life experiences. Deeply persona and raw, these queens tackle prickly issues like gender identity, mental illness, heartbreak and feminism to better understand themselves and their queer experience in an otherwise straight world.

RuPaul brought “Drag Race” into the homes of millions and made the once-taboo art form mainstream. This newfound renaissance has inspired a new generation to explore the art of drag and challenge the constructs of gender.

While “RuPaul’s Drag Race” is a competition, Drag Heals is much more of a journey. For most of the participants, this experience is akin to a second coming out process – and the workshops end with a public performance where they each have to face down their fears of stepping into the limelight.

The show gives viewers unparalleled access to the creation of a performance that is more than just your average lip sync. The classes are structured so that the men must reveal their true selves in preparation for their public performance. In order to do it, they must be brave and vulnerable. As performance time draws near, the urgency to create a compelling piece forces them to face down their nerves and personal demons in order to deliver a quality performance for people who have shelled out money to see just that.

The full first season of Drag Heals is now available on Dekkoo! It’s one of our Pride Month Selections for June 2019. Check out the trailer below.

Pride Month Spotlight: Queercore

Started in the 1980s as a fabricated movement intended to ‘punk’ the punk scene, ‘Queercore’ quickly became a real-life cultural community of LGBTQ music and movie-making revolutionaries.

From the start of the pseudo-movement to the widespread rise of pop artists who used queer identity to push back against gay assimilation and homophobic punk culture, the poignant new documentary Queercore: How to Punk a Revolution is just that: a how-to-do-it guide for the next generation of queer radicals.

Directed by Yony Leyser, this doc features an impressively extensive participant list Included are Bruce LaBruce, G.B. Jones, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, John Waters, Justin Vivian Bond, Lynn Breedlove, Silas Howard, Pansy Division, Penny Arcade, Kathleen Hanna, Kim Gordon, Deke Elash, Tom Jennings, Team Dresch, and many, many more.

Watch the trailer for Queercore: How to Punk a Revolution below. One of our Pride Month selections, the film is now available to watch on Dekkoo.

Pride Month Spotlight: Pansy

Artist Paul Harfleet’s family had always accepted his sexuality, but it was a different story outside the home. Like many young gay people, he regularly faced abuse. So, like any artist worth his salt, he turned that trauma into something brilliant: The Pansy Project.

The Pansy Project; Pansy Documentary

Harfleet plants pansies at sites where some form of homophobic abuse has taken place. He’ll go to the location, find the nearest source of soil and (generally without civic permission – ssshhh!) plants one unmarked pansy. The flower is then photographed (beautifully, we might add), uploaded to his website, given a title inspired by the abuse. Titles like “Let’s kill the Bati-Man!” and “Fucking Faggot!” reveal a frequent reality of the gay experience, which often goes unreported to authorities and by the media in certain parts of the world.

Paul Harfleet's The Pansy Project; Pansy Documentary

This simple action operates as a gesture of quiet resistance. Some pansies flourish, while others wilt. The artist began by planting pansies to mark his own experience of homophobia on the streets of Manchester, but now he plants them for others both on an individual basis and as part of various festivals and events.

Harfleet has visited cities all over Europe. To date, he has planted almost 300 individual pansies. His photographs have been exhibited internationally in Berlin, Paris, London and his hometown of Manchester, where the project began.

Paul Harfleet's The Pansy Project; Pansy Documentary

Following Harfleet as he brings the project to France for the first time, the new documentary Pansy is now streaming on Dekkoo. From Paris to Marseille, via Lille, Strasbourg and Avignon, Harfleet goes searching for testimonies and exposes the prejudices and discrimination gay people still face.

Check out the trailer for Pansy below and make sure to watch the full film on Dekkoo. It’s one of our Pride Month Selections.

New This Week – 6/7/19

A surprise federal court ruling in 2013 legalized gay marriage for Utah – triggering a fierce battle in a state where Mormon church values control the Legislature and every aspect of public life. ‘Church & State’ is available to stream now as part of our 2019 Pride Celebration.

Hassan Kendricks is a conflicted teenager torn between his devotion to his single mother and his desire to be himself. When his mother, Andrea, finds women’s underwear and a flyer to a Gay Ball in her son’s bedroom, she decides to track Hassan down and confront him about his decisions. Stream the gay short “Walk For Me’ now on Dekkoo.

In the first Australian feature film to showcase Auslan (Australian sign language) a sensitive writer grapples with a speech impediment as his profoundly deaf boyfriend provides strategies to restore his confidence. Watch ‘A Silent Agreement’ now playing on Dekkoo.

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Coming next week: Dekkoo Films presents ‘Faces’.

New This Week – 5/31/19

Tim, a shy 16 years old athlete, is both brilliant and talented. But the pressure he undergoes pushes him to the edge, where human limits reach the point of no return. ‘1:54’ is available now on Dekkoo!

Erik’s boyfriend Marely left him. Now, the last chance for Erik to get him back is to make this movie to explain, that the only reason he sold sex was so they could afford to become parents one day. Stream the gay short ‘We Could Be Parents’ now on Dekkoo!

Visibility for the LGBT movement in Argentina wouldn’t have been the same without him. This is the life story of Carlos Jauregui, the most recongnized LGBT activist from the 80s and 90s in Argentina. ‘Carlos Jauregui: The Unforgettable Fag’ is now available on Dekkoo.

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Coming next week: The case that shook a state and changed the nation.

We can’t recommend the gorgeous historical romance The Circle more highly

Part documentary, part narrative feature film, The Circle is a moving tribute to a life-long relationship that overcame intense obstacles and an insightful look at an important chapter in gay history.

Sven Schelker and Matthias Hungerbühler in The Circle

Winner of the prestigious Teddy Award at the Berlin Film Festival, The Circle tells the true story of Ernst Ostertag and Röbi Rapp, a schoolteacher and a drag entertainer, who met through their participation in a social network of gay men that developed in Zurich in the 1940s and 1950s. The two began romantic relationship. Interviews with them and other survivors and experts on the era are interspersed with documentary film and photographs as well as a scripted dramatic enactment of the story.

Sven Schelker and Matthias Hungerbühler in The Circle

Founded in the early ’40s, the network around the magazine ‘Der Kreis’ (‘The Circle’) was the only gay organisation to survive the Nazi regime. It blossomed during the post-war years into an internationally renowned underground club.

Sven Schelker in The Circle

Legendary masked balls at the Theater am Neumarkt in Zurich provided visitors from all over Europe with a secret and safe space to act out their ‘otherness’ in a self-determined way. It is there that timid teacher Ostertag falls in love with drag star Rapp. Ernst searches for a way to fight for his gayness to be accepted as normal outside the boundaries of ‘The Circle’ network without losing his employment as a teacher. Röbi champions the joint fruition of their love.

Matthias Hungerbühler in The Circle

Following a murder in the gay community, violent repression against gay people also endangers ‘The Circle’ network. Stefan Haupt’s riveting film uncovers the fascinating universe of one of the first gay liberation communities. Enriched by impressive conversational records with Ernst Ostertag and Röbi Rapp, the film depicts a decades-long love story – made taboo by society – and reveals the couple’s inspiring self-knowledge and courage.

The real life Ernst Ostertag and Röbi Rapp

Watch the trailer for The Circle below. It’s now available on Dekkoo.