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: Real Boy

Real Boy is the coming-of-age story of Bennett Wallace, a transgender teenager finding his voice – as a musician, a friend, a son, and a man.

Directed by Shaleece Haas, the film follows Bennett over the first three and a half years of his transition – as he grapples with issues of identity, sobriety, and connection to the people he loves. And the person he loves most is his mom, Suzy, who struggles to accept and understand his decision to transition.

As Suzy works to overcome her misgivings, Bennett finds support in the people who understand him best – his musical hero Joe Stevens, a celebrated transgender musician fighting his own demons; and his best friend Dylan, another trans teen on a similar path to young manhood.

At its heart, Real Boy is a story about growing up. It’s a story about the meaning of family, given and chosen. And it’s a story about how our search for identity isn’t just personal, but involves those closest to us.

One of our Pride Month selections, Real Boy is now available on Dekkoo. You can watch the trailer below.

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’.

Eyes Wide Open is an extraordinary portrait of forbidden love

Powerfully moving and quietly humane, Eyes Wide Open, Haim Tabakman’s, debut feature is an extraordinary portrait of forbidden love in an ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem community.

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Aaron (Zohar Strauss) leads a quiet life. Each day he heads from his tidy apartment where he lives with his four children and his wife Rivka (played by an actress with the unlikely name of Tinkerbell) to his butcher-shop to his synagogue to pray.

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Aaron is a tzaddik, a righteous man, and when Ezri (Ran Danker), a beautiful twenty-something man arrives at his shop in a rainstorm looking for shelter, he gives it. But something more happens as sexual desire develops between the two men. Ezri wants to kiss Aaron, but Aaron tells Ezri that it’s a challenge for them to pray about. Ezri takes Aaron to a spring outside the city, and desire bubbles to the surface between the two men.

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As their gay love is consummated, the love between Aaron and Rivka becomes troubled. And a self-appointed “God-squad” of Jewish thugs warns Aaron that Ezri is a they don’t want in their neighborhood.

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Beautifully insightful and almost delicate in its storytelling, Eyes Wide Open, is a stunningly essential film in the cannon of queer filmmaking. With not an extra word, frame or movement, director Haim Tabakman and screenwriter Merav Doster craft a truly gorgeous and unforgettable film.

Eyes Wide Open is available now on Dekkoo.