New This Week – 7/16/21

A voyeuristic, behind-the-scenes look as celebrated choreographer Thierry Smits and his team go through the auditions, rehearsals and eventual premiere of his controversial dance piece Anima Ardens. ‘Bare’ is available now to stream on Dekkoo!

Clement and Alex are looking for a new gay roommate. And they find Leo, a charming student who is in deep trouble to find a place to sleep. Leo will do anything to get that room, whatever it takes. ‘Clément, Alex et tous les autres’ is available on Dekkoo!

A drug addicted hustler, in the middle of a binge, encounters someone from their past. Watch ‘Adam (In Fragments) on Dekkoo!

Today is a day unlike any before. Today is the day Kalthoum and their girlfriends imagine their revenge. Stream ‘Terror Sisters’ now on Dekkoo!

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Coming next week: A series that explores the underground circuit community through the personal lives of different players within the scene.

Drag Race star Jamal Sims directs the electric new dance documentary When the Beat Drops

The new dance documentary When the Beat Drops invites you to drop into the electric and subversive underground dance scene known as bucking.

As voguing exploded out of the ballroom scene of NYC, bucking was boldly pioneered in the clubs of the Deep South as a new form of self-expression.

When the Beat Drops presents a fresh glimpse into the magnetic artistry and flair behind this emerging dance culture.

In his feature debut, famed choreographer and filmmaker Jamal Sims – who has worked with the likes of Madonna and Jennifer Lopez, and appeared countless times as a judge and choreographer on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” – illuminates the warm-hearted and fierce queer black performers who make up one of the leading “bucking” groups in the city of Atlanta.

As they train for their biggest competition yet, they face the risk of losing their jobs and family to compete at the top levels of this dance scene.

Jamal Sims calls dance a “super power,” and with this film he crafts a vision of the power of dance to bring movement to new heights and elevate the queer community.

Watch the trailer for When the Beat Drops below. The film is available now on Dekkoo.

New This Week – 6/11/21

Jacques is an older writer from Paris. Arthur is a young student in Rennes. They instantly fall in love. But they’ll have to face rejection and sickness to keep it that way. ‘Sorry Angel’ is available to watch now on Dekkoo!

Produced in 1967, this amazing 22-minute short film introduces us to four transwomen who are subjected to a six-month psychological project and then grilled about their personal lives. This unique exploitation documentary offers a rare and provocative glimpse into pre-Stonewall queer life. ‘Queens At Heart’ is available now on Dekkoo!

Don’t miss: LGBT Film Archivist and Historian Jenni Olson on Queens at Heart

Knowing your queer history is essential, and the award-winning ‘When The Beat Drops’ offers an immersive deep-dive inside the growing culture of bucking—an energetic, hyper-athletic, dance phenomenon cultivated by queer people of color in the Deep South. Watch ‘When the Beat Drops’ on Dekkoo!

Jesse, a mixed race transgender teen, arrives from Switzerland for a cross-country road trip with her estranged father Marcus. They strike a weighty deal, one with serious repercussions for their relationship and their trip. ‘Jesse’ is now playing on Dekkoo!

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Coming next week: Arturo and Alessandro have been a couple for 15 years. When their friend leaves her children in their care, their tired routine is turned upside down.

LGBT Film Archivist and Historian Jenni Olson on Queens at Heart

For contemporary LGBT viewers, Queens at Heart offers a vivid and compelling lens on how far we have come as a movement while also giving a deep (and wildly entertaining) understanding of what it was like to be transgender at a very different time in history. There are very few filmed images by or about LGBT people before the Stonewall Riots of 1969. There were especially few portrayals of trans lives and experience in this era. The two other films that come to mind from this period are: the remarkable feature documentary, The Queen (1968) and the short documentary portrait of an African American trans woman, Behind Every Good Man (1967). (While the 1970 dramatic feature, The Christine Jorgenson Story is at least somewhat well intended, it primarily comes across as lurid and sensationalist.)

Produced in New York City in 1967, this amazing 22-minute short introduces us to Misty, Vicky, Sonya and Simone — four courageous trans women who candidly discuss their personal lives with a lurid male interviewer who claims to have spoken to “thousands of homosexuals” (and who clearly doesn’t understand the difference between sexual orientation and gender identity). The film offers an extremely rare and poignant glimpse into pre-Stonewall queer life as it takes us to a New York City drag ball and follows the women through their daily lives. They talk about their double-lives — going out as women at night but living as men during the day, and about how they take hormones and dream of “going for a change.” One talks about avoiding the draft, another about her fiancé and another about the torment of childhood as an effeminate youth.

“We know that homosexuality is a psychological aberration that should be treated,” proclaims the interviewer as the film ends. Shifting to a surprisingly sympathetic tone he then concludes with the provocative challenge, “but what about those who don’t want to change? Who are we to judge?” This flip-flop perfectly encapsulates the film’s schizophrenic combination of attitudes as it alternates between luridness and validation, judgment and empathy.

Of course it is extremely significant for us to be able to look back and see this rare portrait of four wonderful trans women being so candid and courageous in the years before Stonewall. Queens at Heart is especially remarkable for how candid and brave the women are in expressing themselves so vulnerably when we can tell that the film was produced more as an exploitation film than as a serious documentary.

As a film historian and archivist I’ve unearthed many films over the years. Queens at Heart is the most significant on every level. It is a film that had been essentially lost to us — with nothing having previously been written about it in LGBT film literature. As a glimpse at pre-Stonewall queer life it is remarkable: from the wonderful footage of the drag balls and gay men dancing together to the provocative interviews with transgender women which are truly jaw-dropping in their candor. The power of this film for bringing us face to face with our forebears (and queer life in 1967) is absolutely incredible, and the film is of even greater interest in this era of increased trans awareness and activism.

Queens at Heart is a tremendously valuable archival portrait of pre-Stonewall trans women — their candor and courage are a true gift and this is a must-see film for anyone interested in transgender history.

About Jenni Olson:
Jenni Olson is an LGBT film historian, archivist and filmmaker based in Berkeley, California. Her work as a film historian includes the Lambda Award nominated The Queer Movie Poster Book (Chronicle Books, 2005) and her many vintage movie trailer presentations (Homo Promo, Trailer Camp, etc.). She is on the Advisory Board of the Outfest UCLA Legacy Project for LGBT Moving Image Preservation.

The new gay series I Am Syd Stone is available now on Dekkoo

Originally released in 2014, writer-director Denis Theriault’s 10-minute short film I Am Syd Stone earned acclaim at film festivals around the globe and competed as an entrant in the prestigious Iris Prize festival. The film was also included in the 12th volume of the popular Boys on Film DVD series.

I Am Syd Stone followed a closeted gay movie star (played by Gharrett Patrick Paon) returning to his hometown for his high school reunion, who unsuccessfully attempts to rekindle his relationship with his former boyfriend Brent (Michael Gaty).

Now Theriault has followed up that successful short with a brand-new series of the same name. This new six-episode show expands the story.

Syd Stone (now played by Travis Nelson) has found his career as an actor has fading. He is now on location in a small town to film a B-movie, and meets and falls for lawyer Matt (Benjamin Charles Watson), but must confront the emotional consequences of having remained closeted for the sake of his career.

The series is set in the present day, and alludes to the events of the original film, however, there is a much happier ending in store for Stone this time around.

All six episodes of I Am Syd Stone are streaming now on Dekkoo.

A romantic encounter changes the life of a drag artist in the drama Your Eyes on Me

From writer-director Sergei Alexander, the British drama Your Eyes on Me tells the story of an experienced drag queen named Gloria (Paul Stone) whose life starts to change when she meets Kandi (Jean-Philippe Boriau) a younger drag-virgin who is auditioning for her next show.

As a bond begins to develop between Gloria and Kandi, their relationship takes an unexpected turn. Suddenly, the past, and the choices Gloria made as a young man, become a stark reality.

A Russian-born filmmaker who arrived in London in 2004, Alexander makes his feature-length debut with Your Eyes on Me. The film won major awards and acclaim at the 2020 London Independent Film Festival.

Your Eyes on Me is a story of love, family, friendship and sexuality, one which can be read and interpreted on many different levels and through many different lenses,” said Alexander. “I hope that film will bring viewers on a thought-provoking and emotional journey, eliciting questions around their beliefs of love, self-acceptance and self-identity.”

Watch the trailer for Your Eyes on Me below. The film is available now on Dekkoo.

Short Film Spotlight: Neon Boys

To be a father, you have to make difficult choices. Having a hard time landing a job after spending time in prison, Shawn (Matty Gliteratti) decides to try his hand at making ends meet by working as an erotic dancer. It’s all in an effort, ultimately, to support his daughter. While he’s there, though, stripping down to make some cash, he finds that he’s beginning to fall in love with a man… for the first time in his life.

A stylish, candy-colored and deeply heartfelt short film from director AJ Mattioli and co-director/star Jonathan Salazar, the new thirty-minute short film Neon Boys has charm and sex appeal to spare.

Watch the trailer for Neon Boys below. The film is available now on Dekkoo.

The power of music influences an intense male love triangle in The Accompanist

A troubled ballet star seeking a comeback finds his salvation in a piano accompanist who can shape shift time with his music and take people back to “where they need to be healed the most.” When the ballet dancer’s boyfriend sees the attraction between dancer and pianist, an all out war ensues to see whose love will win out.

Jason works as a piano accompanist at a local ballet studio. He is suffering from memories of a tragic car accident, and is dealing with his wife, Karen, who after moving out, is pushing for a divorce. Although his children are supportive, Jason is depressed over the fracturing of the family.

At the ballet studio, he meets troubled star Brandon, who is looking for a comeback. The attraction is palpable. Brandon is impressed by Jason’s “magic” music that somehow captivates the dancers at the studio and allows them to dance with added grace and elegance. However, Brandon’s off-again, on-again boyfriend, Adam, who is also a dancer at the studio, is insanely jealous of the attraction evident between Brandon and Jason.

Jason and Brandon begin working together at night at the studio to prepare him for upcoming auditions. Brandon learns more about Jason’s special powers to send people back in time with his piano music to “where they need to be healed the most.” As the love triangle plays out between Jason, Brandon and Adam, the lines between eroticism and violence become blurred. Unexpected events unfold where the surreal combines with the magical power of music, transforming all of their lives in the process.

Watch the trailer for The Accompanist below. The film is now streaming on Dekkoo.

Short Film Spotlight: Shadow Animals

In the new Swedish short film Shadow Animals, a young girl (Ayla Turin) follows her parents to a party where she experiences assorted grown-up rituals. As the evening progresses she finds the adults’ behavior increasingly strange. Everyone tries to fit in, but not everyone succeeds.

Skillfully mixing kitchen-sink social drama with over-the-top surrealism, Shadow Animals manages to pinpoint the illogical adult world that makes childhood something deeply serious.

Writer-director Jerry Carlsson has created a fascinatingly weird dance-based drama about the discovery of human behavior.

Watch the trailer for Shadow Animals below to get a sense of what the film has up its sleeve. It’s now available on Dekkoo.

The Ice King tells a story of art, sport, sexuality and rebellion

Featuring incredible unseen footage of some of his mort remarkable performances, the searing documentary The Ice King tells the story of lost figure skating icon John Curry. With access to Curry’s personal letters, archive interviews, and interviews with his family, friends and collaborators, this is a portrait of the man who turned ice-skating from a dated sport into an exalted art form.

Watch any figure skating and it falls into two possible camps: before and after John Curry. From what was a macho, technical sport whose judges punished deviation blossomed – through John Curry’s stubborn beauty – ice-dancing. This was no Holiday on Ice, but a new artistic medium. After winning gold at the Winter Olympics for a rebelliously balletic routine, Curry saw the world’s stages sheeted with ice. Audiences and reviewers alike were enthralled by his genius. But Curry’s story is about more than skating. On the night of the final, Curry became the first openly gay Olympian at a time when homosexuality was barely legal.

From bullying and prejudice, to relief in the gay underworld, to his untimely death from AIDS, Curry’s story dovetails with the experiences of a generation. Tortured by demons, Curry was forever on the run. Never owning a home, he lived on the favors of those who loved him. The only place he found true freedom was the ice.

The Ice King tells the story of a man whose body was a battleground. From love affairs, to violence in sex clubs, to its ‘unmanly’ elegance on the ice, every act was rebellion. John Curry was no activist, but an artist expressing his authentic self – yet in a world where his existence was taboo, his life was unavoidably political.

Watch the trailer for The Ice King below. The film is available now on Dekkoo.