LEAVE NO TRACE (Tribeca 2022) – Review by Leslie Combemale

When Norman Rockwell began his long association with The Boy Scouts of American, he couldn’t possibly have imagined how much his romanticized, clean-cut, patriotic representation of the organization would aid in building a system tailor-made for pedophiles. The dozens of art images shown as part of the new documentary Leave No Trace are only one way filmmaker Irene Taylor lays out how the once storied, now infamous boy’s club promoted and branded itself as a safe, wholesome way to create a strong, healthy, loyal, and obedient young man. Leave No Trace recounts, often in shocking ways, just how far from the truth that really is, and has been nearly from their inception. Only in February 2022, the Boy Scouts of America reached a 2.7 billion agreement over sexual abuses that occurred over decades.

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BEING BEBE – Review by Valerie Kalfrin

BeBe Zahara Benet, the first winner of the reality TV show RuPaul’s Drag Race, is a boisterous drag performer who doesn’t always like the word drag. “I like ‘the whole female illusion,’” says BeBe in the documentary Being BeBe, an intimate portrait that introduces viewers both to her and her offstage alter ego, Nea Marshall Kudi.

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WEEK IN WOMEN: Sonía Sebastian directs THE KISS LIST – Brandy McDonnell reports

Award-winning The Virgin of Highland Park helmer Sonía Sebastian is directing the LGBTQ+ coming-of-age story The Kiss List. Screenwriter Ximena García Lecuona adapted Sara Jo Cluff’s young-adult book of the same name. The movie wrapped filming earlier this month in and around Louisville, Kentucky. MarVista Entertainment developed the feature film under the direction of the company’s Head of Creative Affairs Hannah Pillemer from Cluff’s 2019 book from Monster Ivy Publishing.

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WELCOME TO CHECHNYA – Review by Diane Carson

David France’s documentary Welcome to Chechnya makes painfully clear that brutal, state-sanctioned oppression still exists in this autonomous Russian region where LGBTQ individuals suffer beatings, long-term imprisonment with accompanying torture, and vicious, unpunished killings. President since 1917 Ramzan Kadyrov has initiated and supported such action.

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A SECRET LOVE – Review by Pam Grady

The history of LGBTQ people from the mid-20 century on in North America is contained in Terry Donahue and Pat Henschel’s story, the subterfuge society required giving way to a judgmental niece carping that it’s sinful that they are not married. In some ways, A Secret Love is a time capsule, but more than that, it is an affecting portrait of a couple’s unshakeable bond in the twilight of their lives.

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BEFORE STONEWALL – Review by Maitland McDonagh

Newly restored to mark the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, Greta Schiller’s Before Stonewall (1984) chronicles the making of a gay and lesbian community, through the recollections of gay men and women who paved the road to Stonewall by simply living their lives and loving the people they loved, despite draconian laws that ensured that they could be refused employment or fired from their jobs, denied the right to rent apartments and thrown in jail simply for being who they were. The film reminds us that rights fought and paid for can be taken away, a fact well worth noting in our parlous times.

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TELL IT TO THE BEES – Review by Leslie Combemale

This love story, which happens in a small town, in post-war Scotland, speaks to the judgement and fear of imprisonment same-sex couples had at the time, since homosexuality was only decriminalized in England in 1967. It also exposes the lack of agency, and often suffocating restrictions and expectations set for women, while showing that love, and the falling into it, is always beautiful.

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Joel Edgerton and Garrard Conley talk BOY ERASED – Nell Minow interviews

Joel Edgerton wrote, directed, and stars in Boy Erased, based on Garrard Conley’s memoir/expose about his time in a brutally abusive Christian “gay conversion” program. When the film was screened at the Middleburg Film Festival, Edgerton and Conley spoke about what the theme and story mean to them.

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