POSTED ON Oct 2, 2014 BY Three Dollar Bill Cinema

Getting behind the “Killer Lesbians” headline with OUT IN THE NIGHT

This post was contributed by director Blair Dorosh-Walther, who will be present, along with producer Giovanna Chesler, at the OUT IN THE NIGHT Seattle Premiere on Saturday, October 11 at 12:30pm at the Egyptian. 

Immediately following the arrest of seven young African American women on August 18th, 2006, I became interested in their case. I read the many salacious headlines like “Attack of the Killer Lesbians,” “Gal Gang,” “I’m a man, lesbian growled” and on and on. However, it was the first of many New York Times articles that really gave me pause. The headline read: “Man is stabbed after admiring a stranger.” An admirer?? I really could not believe it. A man does not ‘admire’ teenage girls on the street at midnight. That is harassment. And I have never met a woman who hasn’t been harassed on the street at some point in her life, never mind in New York City where it is commonplace. This story would have unfolded differently had the women and gender non-conforming youth involved been white. Race and class, as well as gender and sexuality, were and remain critical issues in this case.
For the next two years I worked as a part-time activist around this case, originally feeling that a white director should not tell this story. Two years later, however, as their appeals were approaching, I could not stop thinking about this story. I wrote to each of the women in prison and asked if I could come visit them and discuss the possibility of a documentary. I spoke with their family members to see if they were also interested, as well as their attorneys. We discussed what a documentary entails and sort of interviewed each other to make sure everyone was comfortable moving forward.
Way too often in the mainstream, LGBT rights are spoken about through ‘marriage equality.’ Gender identity blends with ‘sexuality’ as if they are one in the same. But the NJ4’s gender identities played a role in this story, particularly in the way they were represented in the media.

So as we move beyond marriage equality as the central LGBT issue, their experiences reveal so many more that need to be addressed: Feeling safe on the street. In any town, in any city. The right to defend yourself without fear of imprisonment. Trust in calling the police when you are threatened. And representations of spectrums of gender that aren’t neatly “male” or “female.”
My approach to filmmaking is both political and practical. I very much identify as an Anarchist. Oddly, the act of making an independent film feels like the truest way for me to live that out in my career. When it works correctly, filmmaking is about a small, passionate and dedicated group of people governing equally. We work equally in our specific roles for a common and shared vision. I love that part of filmmaking. I’m sure many people wouldn’t necessarily agree with me, but for me it is the lens through which I see and feel the process. As a developing artist, I originally found my creative voice in the abstraction of painting and sculpture. But I did not continue in fine arts because of that very abstraction. I want access to meaning and justice to be more transparent. In my ‘other’ life, in social services and activism, I’ve paid attention to those things. So, filmmaking - visual storytelling - merges these two parts of me in a way that feels whole.

blair dorosh-walther

POSTED ON Sep 30, 2014 BY Three Dollar Bill Cinema

States of Grace: A labor of love

Thank you to the filmmaking team behind STATES OF GRACE for this behind-the-scenes story. STATES OF GRACE plays Saturday, October 11.

States of Grace is a labor of love that emerged from a desire to witness and document a friend’s remarkable journey following a tragic, life-altering event. Dr. Grace Dammann, the primary subject of the film, is a dear, longtime friend. Our daughters, now young women, had been buddies as toddlers, and we maintained a close friendship during the years that followed. 

We received the devastating news that Grace had been in a head-on collision on the Golden Gate Bridge while we were traveling overseas in May 2008. We returned home to the frenzy and panic at the trauma hospital, where Grace’s large circle of friends and family kept vigil. Would Grace live? If she survived, would she have any brain function? What would her quality of life be like? How would she, along with her family and community, face the daunting unknowns that lay ahead? These questions consumed us all for the many weeks she was in a coma. We waited and fretted while the doctors performed surgery after surgery attempting to mend her shattered body. 

The idea of making a film about Grace didn’t surface until after she regained consciousness, nearly seven weeks after the accident. To everyone’s shock, Grace awoke on the Fourth of July singing “You Are My Sunshine” and asking philosophical questions, indicating that her mental faculties were miraculously intact. Coincidentally, we had taken her daughter, Sabrina, to the Marin County Fair that day. As we walked around the dusty fairgrounds, Sabrina—who had been in the car with Grace and survived the accident with only minor injuries—brought up the idea of making a movie about her mom. At that time, the trauma of the accident was still too painful and Grace’s future still too uncertain for us to seriously contemplate filming. But as the weeks and months unfolded,
Grace’s recovery and spirit continually amazed and inspired us. We began to think that Sabrina’s idea held real promise. As seasoned producers of social issue and educational documentaries, we were ready to dig into a more artistic project and eager to create a verité film that followed a deeply personal story over time. Mark was also itching to move out of the editing room and pick up his camera again, getting back to his love of cinematography. 

In 2009, near the end of thirteen months in residential rehabilitation hospitals, Grace was released for an afternoon to celebrate Sabrina’s sixteenth birthday at a nearby Chinese restaurant. We videotaped the party as a trial run and were completely captivated by the experience; in our bones, we knew her homecoming and recovery would be a remarkable journey to follow. When Grace left the hospital for good a week later, we were there with our camera to start shooting in earnest, never imagining this film would become such a passionate, consuming project for us for the next five years.

Right from the start we wanted the filmmaking to be as unobtrusive and observational as possible, so the two of us comprised the entire production crew. We had a unique opportunity to capture the experience in an extremely personal and intimate way, given our history and closeness with Grace, Fu, and Sabrina. All three of them gave us uncensored access to their lives, and we showed up as often as possible to bear witness to their unfolding new reality. 

Helen conducted the many interviews with the family, as well as Grace’s friends, doctors, and therapists—sometimes using formal interview setups, sometimes organically as scenes unfolded. Mark, who managed both camera and sound, frequently shot on his own, showing up at countless doctor’s appointments and physical therapy sessions—as well as sleeping on the living room couch in order to capture the family routine through the night or to document five a.m. trips to the hospital for Grace’s surgeries. To film during times when we weren’t around, we gave Fu a small digital camcorder; two of the more poignant scenes in the film come from her footage.

While we set out to focus on Grace’s recovery, Fu proved to be a compelling character in her own right. It wasn’t until we were well into the editing process that we came to understand how much this was a story about the entire family—and especially the complex roles and relationship between Fu and Grace as caregiver and care receiver. 

Though it was difficult at times to straddle the line between filmmaker and friend, there was a kind of magic in the intensity, intimacy, and emotion of the experience for all of us—and our friendships deepened through the process. For Grace, the filmmaking became a way to process her own feelings and experiences as she was going through them. For us, it was both a privilege and an emotional challenge to witness her arduous healing and rehabilitation process; her struggle to come to terms with her profound limitations and dependency; and her determination to make meaning out of her radically altered life and identity. We were often astonished at Grace’s resilience in the face of great struggle, and it was heartbreaking to share in the profound loss she had to endure.

Grace hoped that something positive could come out of the accident, and she sees the film as a way to contribute something to the world—just one more piece in her long legacy of being of service to others as a physician and a Buddhist. We share that aspiration, believing that her story and the many lessons embedded within it will have a profound effect on audiences and will prove to be a far-reaching educational resource.

--Mark Lipman & Helen S. Cohen

POSTED ON Sep 23, 2014 BY Three Dollar Bill Cinema

Exclusive Image Gallery for BLACKBIRD

Special thanks to the filmmaking team behind BLACKBIRD (directed by Patrik-Ian Polk and produced by Keith Brown) for this gallery of image stills! BLACKBIRD plays Sunday, October 12. Purchase tickets now!



Director Patrik-Ian Polk, who has thrilled packed houses at our festival with premieres of NOAH’S ARC (SLGFF 2004) and NOAH’S ARC: JUMPING THE BROOM (SLGFF 2008), returns with a heartfelt and hopeful drama that boasts a vibrant soundtrack and a gifted cast, including newcomer Julian Walker and Academy Award–winner Mo’nique.

Randy (Walker) is a model high school student and a dutiful son who prays, behaves, and sings in the choir. But he’s unable to abate his frequent and increasingly sexy fantasies about other boys. However, he soon realizes he isn’t the only one of his friends struggling against the restrictive norms of their Southern Baptist community. Through various means, he becomes intimately aware of the pressures and challenges they each face around love, sex, and coming of age.

On top of his personal crisis, Randy also deals with a trying family situation that obliges him to take care of his distressed and devout mother (the incomparable Mo’nique) and reconnect with his estranged father (Isaiah Washington). Sparks fly when he meets hunky Marshall, but will this new relationship provide a welcome escape...or make matters worse?

Based on the book by Larry Duplechan and adapted by Polk and Rikki Beadle-Blair (FIT, SLGFF 2010), BLACKBIRD sings with emotional lows and infectiously joyful highs, creating an exquisite and beautiful cinematic experience.

Northwest Premiere

Guests in attendance

Sponsored by Gay City Health Project

Copresented by Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute

Centerpiece Reception after screening at Gay City

POSTED ON Sep 22, 2014 BY Three Dollar Bill Cinema

Director Susanna Fogel on LIFE PARTNERS

LIFE PARTNERS plays Sunday, October 19 at 6:30 PM at AMC Pacific Place. It is followed by our Closing Night Gala at Il Fornaio Atrium Café. Purchase tickets now. 

We’ve all had a best friend. Especially for women, this relationship is as intense as any romantic partnership we will ever have. She’s the person we share our innermost fears with, the person who drives us to the emergency room, the person we bring as our date to weddings. Particularly nowadays, when people are encouraged to take their time in committing romantically, these quasi-marital friendships can last well into our 20s if not 30s, and are a huge part of the Zeitgeist. 

It’s surprising, then, how rarely these friendships are accurately portrayed in American films. In mainstream romantic comedies, we’re treated to the “comic relief sidekick” friend who is unflaggingly supportive of the movie’s protagonist (and overly interested in her love life). And we’ve seen the onscreen frenemy who will stop at nothing to sabotage her “best friend” through broad set pieces that sometimes literally involve hair-pulling. 

But what about that person you love more than anyone in the world...but still talk about behind her back and find yourself subtly one-upping when you’re feeling insecure? That person you love so much that it kills you to see her making mistakes and why doesn’t she just listen to you when you tell her how to fix her life? That person who drives you so crazy with her passive-aggressive crap that when you complain about it to the guy you’re dating, he can’t help but ask why you’re still friends with her because he just doesn’t get it? It’s that friendship my cowriter Joni and I set out to study with this film, in the tradition of films like Nicole Holofcener’s Walking and Talking that are unparalleled in their realism about female friendship and its absurd amazingness.Just as we believe there’s a dearth of honest films about female friendships, we also feel a need for films about gays and lesbians having relatable experiences in a diverse world. 

Joni and I identify differently (she’s gay, I’m straight) and we wanted to represent her community without focusing a narrative on “coming out” or emphasizing the politics of her sexuality in a way that would make the film niche. On the contrary, we wanted to universalize it. Not only did we want to show a platonic gay-straight friendship where neither character is romantically interested in the other, but in executing the script as a director, I strived for accessibility. In casting, I sought actresses who were widely known and broadly appealing to play lesbians, like Leighton Meester who lends so much credibility, nuance and heart to a role that could not be further from her role on GOSSIP GIRL. As for her straight counterpart, I tried to avoid the plight of the generic romantic comedy heroine by casting Gillian Jacobs, an actress known for her quirky personality and cult comedy fanbase. 

As far as my aesthetic approach to directing this film, I aimed for a combination of real and slightly elevated. I’ve always admired directors like Cameron Crowe who combine naturalistic writing and performances with a real sense of style that lends an element of wish fulfillment, fun and entertainment. With this in mind, I tried to encourage moments of spontaneity and raw emotion, while still delivering the scripted comedy and avoiding an overly improvisational or haphazard feel. I approached production design, costume and music with this same philosophy in mind, always aiming for a combination of real and slightly elevated. 

With all that said, my hope with LIFE PARTNERS is to deliver a female friendship comedy that resonates and entertains, hitting that sweet spot between a “film” and a “movie” as it explores the universal theme of friendship...along with some related themes (sexuality, women at the center of their own narrative, to name two) that deserve more of a spotlight.

--Susanna Fogel

POSTED ON Sep 15, 2014 BY Three Dollar Bill Cinema

Guest Post: Why We Made A Documentary Film about Greg Louganis

Special thanks to Cheryl Furjanic and Will Sweeney for this contribution. BACK ON BOARD: GREG LOUGANIS opens the 2014 Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival on October 9 at the Egyptian Theatre. Tickets on sale September 18; passes on sale now

BACK ON BOARD: GREG LOUGANIS Three years ago we read that Olympic Champion diver Greg Louganis was returning to the sport of diving -- as a coach and Olympic mentor -- after a two decade-long absence.  As filmmakers in our late thirties, we both had fond and vivid memories of Greg in the Olympic Games.  We thought a film about Louganis and his return to the sport synonymous with his name would make for an incredible film.

We called and talked to Greg and we were all excited about the idea.  The result of these last three years of work together is our feature-length documentary "Back on Board: Greg Louganis" which will be the opening night film at the Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival on Thursday, October 9th at the Egyptian Theatre.

After spending three years with him, we can tell you (and our film does it even better), that even when you think you know everything there is to know about Greg, trust us, there's more.  BACK ON BOARD: GREG LOUGANIS is an intimate portrait of Greg's private struggles and public triumphs.

While once a household name, we found that mentions of  "Greg Louganis" today is met with a wide range of responses:  From “Isn’t he the one who hit his head?” or “Is he still alive,” to “Wow, I LOVE him, what ever happened to him?” to -- way too often -- blank stares from young people who had never heard his name in their lifetimes.

So what did happen to Louganis?  There's a common perception that Olympic Gold Medalists are set for life right?  Well, not if you were known to be gay in the 1980's and came out publicly at HIV+ in the 1990's.   Well, we certainly didn't expect to find Greg on the brink of bankruptcy when we began shooting.  How did he end up there and how did he end up so far away from "his sport?"

We knew that Greg’s return to diving gave us a natural way to tell his unique story and explore his enduring legacy.  The film follows Louganis as he reunites with the sport he once dominated but never felt entirely welcome in.  A critical question of the film is “how is it that the greatest diver of all time feels rejected by his own sport?”   While there isn't just one answer to this question, there are certainly a variety of factors that were at play.

Greg was never closeted but in the 1980's.  While he was diving, Greg and the press seemed to have a "don't ask, don't tell" policy.  Newspaper mentions of his "live in manager," or his "roommate/manager," or his "best friend, who he lives with," were all thinly veiled public acknowledgements of his homosexuality.  Greg's impact as an example challenging the "athlete stereotype" made even more of an impact when he came out as HIV+ in his 1995 autobiography.  Before Jason Collins, before Michael Sam, Greg Louganis was blazing trails. Before Greg, David Kopay was speaking up by coming out. Thankfully, times have changed.

Audiences will see the evolution of American society’s attitudes towards the LGBT community and acceptance of individuals with HIV/AIDS unfold by watching our film. What Greg experienced during the Olympics in 1976, 1984, and 1988 illustrate how much the world has changed in three decades but as recent horrible news reports from Russia and Brunei illustrate -- there is still much more work to be done.

It was a pleasure for us to experience the unique beauty and grace of Louganis’s perfect diving (over and over and over) in the editing room.  This along with Greg's never-seen-before archival footage, present the awesome artistry of Louganis and his gravity-defying precision and excellence on the diving board. There is exquisite pleasure from watching slow-motion dives performed and studying the intricate form of the human body in motion.  All of this is set against Greg's internal dialogue of what was going on in his heart and mind, and in his personal life, while he was presenting an incredibly stunning image of America's favorite athlete.  At the core of our film are several incredibly touching relationships -- between Greg and his coach, Greg and his mom, and Greg and his boyfriend (now husband). 

After filming the Olympic diving trials in Seattle, we are excited to return and show the film here. It has been an honor to make this film with, and about, Greg.  We look forward to the impact that our film has on audiences at film festivals and beyond.  Louganis' resilience is awe-inspiring to behold and has proved to be a source of inspiration for us many times over while making this film. 

Cheryl Furjanic is the director, producer and co-writer of BACK ON BOARD: GREG LOUGANIS . Will Sweeney is the producer and co-writer of BACK ON BOARD: GREG LOUGANIS . 

Director Cheryl Furjanic  Producer Will Sweeny

POSTED ON Sep 3, 2014 BY Three Dollar Bill Cinema

Check out the brand-new 2014 Festival trailer


Thanks to Clyde Peterson of Do It For the Girls Productions for the wonderful animation!

The 2014 Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival poster is here!

We are super excited to reveal this year's artwork, courtesy of Corianton Hale of SleepOp.

2014 SLGFF poster by SleepOp

Stay tuned for more exciting announcements! #QueerItUp

POSTED ON Aug 26, 2014 BY Jason

Teenage Dreams Come True

Teenage Dreams Come True

The Three Dollar Bill Outdoor Cinema was successful beyond our wildest dreams! Thanks to everyone who came out on Fridays for the Teenage Dreams summer movie series.

Whether you cheered at BRING IT ON, carried a watermelon before DIRTY DANCING, made sassy remarks at CLUELESS, or did a Top That rap at TEEN WITCH, you helped us create that surreal movie magic at Cal Anderson Park this summer. Each night attracted audiences of a thousand people or more, all having a great time and sharing the cinematic experience under the stars.

We look forward to seeing you at the 19th Annual Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival happening October 9-19!

And we'll see you outdoors next summer for more outdoor movies!

POSTED ON Jul 3, 2014 BY Jason

Coming Out All Over

Coming Out All Over

presented by Three Dollar Bill Cinema & the Northwest Film Forum

Costume designers, the unsung alchemists of movie magic, finally get their due thanks to guest curator Mark Mitchell’s delectable selection of three couture classics. Combining his encyclopedic knowledge of the history of costume design with his queer sensibility, Mark will take us on a tour of the many-splendored world of queer film style. Come for the classy commentary, stay for the sassy footnotes, and don’t forget to get lubricated before show time during happy hour at our lobby bar!

Three Thursdays in June, at the Northwest Film Forum (1515 12th Ave)

Happy Hour starts at 6:30pm, Films at 7:30pm
Full Series Pass: $25/$15 members
Individual tickets: $11/$8 student, senior/$6 members


SALOME (1922)
Thursday, June 12

Allah Nazimova stars in the Oscar Wilde scripted story of Salome. This silent film classic features the infamous and salacious dance done in exchange for the head of John the Baptist. Valentino’s wife, Natacha Rambova (born Winifred Shaughnessy in Salt Lake City, Utah) robs Aubrey Beardsley blind and brings his drawings to life in dramatic black and white. Her costumes for this work are nothing short of magical, and the pearl wig haunts one’s dreams.

Thursday, June 19

The wild and X-rated adaptation of Gore Vidal’s scintillating novel is a cult film like no other. Raquel Welch portrays the extraordinary titular character in one killer outfit after another, thanks to the genius of Theadora Van Runkle, best known for her costumes for Bonnie and Clyde (1967) and The Godfather: Part II (1974). Co-star Mae West’s less effective costumes were designed by multiple Academy Award winner, Edith Head.

Thursday, June 26

A homoerotic space trip with harness-clad bird men, a fanciful emperor with a penchant for beaded gowns, and numerous scenes with our shirtless hero tied up and helpless. Delish. It’s Danilo Donati on poppers, going full gay outré space in this golden phallus of cinematic art. Donati designed for films by Fellini and Pasolini, and the great costume houses of Rome. Here he gets shiny, sexy, and silly, so unbutton your shirt one more button and enjoy!

POSTED ON May 16, 2014 BY Jason

Translations #9—a Big Hit!

Translations #9—a Big Hit!

The feeling at the Northwest Film Forum was electric for our sold-out closing night film, KATE BORNSTEIN IS A QUEER & PLEASANT DANGER and there was a surprise Intro and Q&A with director Sam Feder and Kate Bornstein via Skype! The evening was full of standing ovations, laugher, applause and heart-felt conversations about art, writing, health and creative practice. It was truly a memorable night and a fitting close to a festival that brought several special guests and hundreds of attendees to over a dozen programs over the 4-day festival. Thank you to everyone who made is a huge success!


Best Documentary Feature
Directed by Sam Feder

Best Narrative Feature
Directed by Eric Schaeffer

Best Documentary Short
Directed by Melissa Koch

Best Narrative Short
Directed by Rachel Goldberg

Want to remember Translations all year long? We have a limited number of festival t-shirts available that we're selling online for a short time. Purchase one today HERE.

Help us make Translations even better! Please give us your feedback through our Audience Survey. Thank you!

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