Fusion Focus on LGBT Ethnic Minorities (in U.S.) + CineKink 'Mindflesh'

by Alt Film Guide
Pedro Nick Oceano
Fusion Focus: Pedro Nick Oceano.

Fusion 2009: The Sixth Annual Los Angeles LGBT People of Color Film Festival will be presented by Outfest and HBO on March 6-8, 2009. The three-day festival includes screenings of features and short films, in addition to panels, workshops, and parties throughout the Los Angeles area. The screenings will be held at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood; the panels and workshops will take place at Universal Studios and the Village at Ed Gould Plaza.

As per the Outfest press release, Fusion “is a growing part of Outfest and is the only multi-racial, gender-inclusive film festival of its kind.” I don't believe that the color white is included, but I'm not going to get into the merits or lack thereof of a film festival devoted to gay/lesbian/bi/etc. ethnic minorities in the United States – considering that Outfest's own summer festival already showcases numerous films featuring ethnic minorities – or question what exactly is “a person of color” (a Chilean descendant of German immigrants? A dark-skinned Pole? A Swede who forgot to apply his sunscreen lotion?).

Instead, I'd rather mention the films.

Amanda Micheli and Isabel Vega's Oscar-nominated short La Corona, for instance, is an intriguing look at a beauty pageant set within the confines of a Colombian penitentiary, where we witness several inmates prepping themselves up for the runway while discussing their (at times) blood-soaked past.

Also of particular interest are:

  • Pedro, directed by Nick Oceano and written by this year's Academy Award winner Dustin Lance Black (for Milk). Pedro is a biopic chronicling the brief life of HIV-positive Pedro Zamora, who was a hit in MTV's 1994 edition of The Real World.
  • Shamim Sarif's London-set I Can't Think Straight, about two Muslim women coming to terms with their mutual attraction;
  • several Metro/Sexual and Underground shots, including Todd Holland's Wig and Julian Breece's The Young and Evil

For more information and for a complete listing of Fusion 2009 films, see below or log on to www.Outfest.org.  Festival tickets are on sale now to Outfest members and the general public. Special ticket packages are also available.

The schedule below is from the Outfest press release.


All films screened at the Egyptian Theatre.

Friday, March 6



In this lineup of humorous, moving and sometimes disturbing short films, a young man pursues a harrowing obsession, a family struggles with gender identity, and women in prison battle for the ultimate crown. Poetic, erotic, and unapologetic, these acclaimed films boldly launch the 6th edition of Fusion.

EL ABUELO Dir. Dino Dinco; HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Dir. Roberta Marie Munroe; THE BATH, Dir. Mi-rang Lee; THE YOUNG AND EVIL, Dir. Julian Breece, LA CORONA, Dir. Amanda Micheli and Isabel Vega

Followed by drinks, food and dancing at the Opening Night After-Party.


Saturday, March 7


Cher, Fufu the dog, and a diva in fishnets are the unequivocal stars of these innovative and uncompromising short films. Taking thematic and formal risks, these works challenge tradition, expectations and the very notion of queer history. 

ARE YOU ME? (MRS. LEE), Dir. Erica Cho; BLUE COVERS, Dir. Indira Allegra; CROSSING, Dir. Visperd Madad-Doust ; CUSPS, Dir. Sara Zia Ebrahimi; FRAGMENTS, Dir. Natasha Mendonca; IT'S ME CHER: A DOLL-U-MENTARY, Dir. Timothy Ochoa; MARTI AND I, Dir. Juan Carlos Zaldivar; NIKAMOWIN (SONG), Dir. Kevin Burton; STRUGGLE BEFORE DAWN, Dir. Osuna UNTITLED #1 (FROM THE SERIES EARTH PEOPLE 2507), Dir. Nao Bustamante


Dir. Shamim Sarif, 2008, UK, 80 min.

The sexual chemistry is undeniable between two beautiful and ostensibly straight women in this London-based, opposites-attract romantic comedy. An outgoing Jordanian woman and a shy Muslim British Indian woman deal with family pressures and expectations while attempting to remain true to themselves and each other.

With short: I'VE GOT YOU, Dir. Camrin Pitts



Dir. Kortney Ryan Ziegler, 2008, USA, 77 min.

Six black transmen in the US discuss their professional and personal lives as artists and lawyers, fathers and husbands. An exploration of race, sexuality and transgender identity, this honest and original documentary is a portrait of the lives of these men and allows them to tell their own unique stories.

With short: IN MY SKIN, Dir. Timothy Ochoa


Dir. Clint Alberta, 1999, Canada, 89 min. - 10 year anniversary screening!

Clint Star, the dashing, dangerous and possibly trustworthy host of this bright, free-wheeling personal documentary traipses around his hometown of Alberta, Canada and provokes raw and scintillating conversations with family and friends about sexuality, Native culture, abuse, loss and personal triumph.



Jargon-slinging, text-messaging youth roam Los Angeles, bullies in London terrorize a neighborhood, and an angst-ridden woman in Tokyo ponders her future. In these short films, big city lessons often mean relying on friends and family, the sage words of elders, or simply having faith in oneself.

QUEERER THAN THOU, Dir. Ramses Rodstein; SOULJAH, Dir. Rikki Beadle Blair; LAUNDROMAT, Dir. Edward Gunawan; WIG, Dir. Todd Holland; WHEN I BECOME SILENT, Dir. Hyoe Yamamoto; DISH, Dir. Brian Harris Krinsky




Dir. Nick Oceano, 2008, USA, 93 min.

This biographical film reinvigorates the moving true story of Pedro Zamora, the openly gay and HIV-positive Cuban-American who captured the hearts of MTV viewers in the San Francisco edition of THE REAL WORLD in 1994. The first feature film directed by past Fusion filmmaker Nick Oceano (EL PRIMO) and written by Dustin Lance Black (MILK), PEDRO pays tribute to a young man and captures his passion for life and education around HIV prevention.





Location: Universal Studios

Upload and Links

For the first time Fusion is offering a one-day program of professional development workshops for 20 People of Color LGBT filmmakers and community organizations seeking to develop commercial visibility in today's queer media market. The first part of the day will be spent discussing effective means of using media to tackle social justice and political issues. The second part of the day will be dedicated to linking filmmakers up with community organizations to produce a short PSA or video that will be streamed on the Outfest website.

Application and registration are required for Upload and Links.




Location: Village at LAGLC

Seeing in The Dark: An Insight into Cinema by Queers of Color

As race and sexuality top the US political agenda for 2009, an increasing number of today's queer filmmakers are turning both eyes and ears to the body of work from queer communities of color from past decades. Dipping into the archives of the Outfest Legacy Collection at UCLA's Film & Television Archive, filmmaker, scholar and curator Cheryl Dunye investigates a selection of the most popular works from the 1980s and 1990s and will screen them with a panel of film and video professionals and makers including: Shari Frilot, Ernesto Foronda, Jocelyn Taylor, Ming-Yuen S. Ma.



Location: Village at LAGLC

Prop 8 and the Fallacy of Single Issue Politics

November's disheartening passage of Proposition 8 has stimulated a range of discussion within LGBT communities of color - from criticism of the tactics utilized by the No On 8 campaign to despair over the homophobic and racist fissures exposed in communities of color and the LGBT community in the aftermath of Prop 8's passage. This esteemed panel will address tough questions such as: Is gay marriage really a civil rights concern for queer people of color? Should focus be placed upon combating racism within the LGBT community and homophobia within communities of color as a first step? Can both sides recover from depictions of gay marriage supporters as threats to children and gay marriage opponents as promoters of hatred?

Moderated by: Jonathan Kidd (Outfest Board Member, Professor and Filmmaker)

Panelists: Reverend Escoto (Metropolitan Community Church), Jasmyne Cannick (Journalist and Filmmaker), Maggie Gallagher (Institute for Marriage and Public Policy) and Doreena Wong (API Equality - Los Angeles)




Location: Village at LAGLC

“Nuts and Bolts” Workshop Series

Need to learn the basics of web media making but were afraid to ask? Want some constructive advice for your next queer media master piece? Want to better understand how to get work in the entertainment industry? Fusion 2009 will close its conference with an afternoon of “Nuts and Bolts” workshops.


11:00 - 12:30

Instant Gratification Media Making

A panel of DIYers will explain how to make a short film using a camera phone, edit on a laptop and get it out in the world. They will share tricks of the trade, take questions and provide hands-on help.

Panelists: Rex Rude (MMA Creative Group), Jian Chen (QTpi Media), Pat Branch (Comic, Screenwriter, Blogger on theDinah.com), Erica Cho (Filmmaker, Visual artist), Jay Esguerra (Filmmaker)


12:30-1:00 Snacks and Networking


1:00 - 2:30

Breaking In

A variety of industry insiders and accomplished filmmakers will share their success stories and advice for emerging writers, directors, producers, cinematographers and editors.

Panelists: Tajamika Paxton (Producer and Director), Patti Lee (Cinematographer and Producer), Michelle Crenshaw (Cinematographer), Angel Lopez (Participant Productions)

CineKink NYC: 'Mindflesh'

When a film festival's community sponsors have names such as DDevious Delights, National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, Gay Male S/M Activists, Leather Invasion, Lesbian Sex Mafia, the film festival in question must be CineKink NYC, currently taking place at the Anthology Film Archives, at 32 Second Avenue & 2nd St. in New York City.

Among the screening films are Daryl Wein's documentary Sex Positive, about an early AIDS activist; Robert Pratten's horror thriller Mindflesh; a shorts program called – I kid you not – “Whips & Restraint”; the documentary Graphic Sexual Horror; and the sex-film industry parody The Auteur, which happens to be the only film among those listed that I've seen. (The best thing about The Auteur is an extreme case of male bonding at the film's outrageous – both figuratively and literally – climax.)

CineKink NYC 2009 runs until March 1.


The schedule below is from the CineKink website:

Wednesday, February 25 - 6:45 PM

CineKink Season Opener!
(Daryl Wein, 2008, USA, 78 minutes)
When Richard Berkowitz arrived in New York City in the late 1970s, the sexual revolution was at its peak and, in a time when gay men lived and loved with wild abandon, he enjoyed lucrative work as an S/M top. And then he developed AIDS. Transforming himself from sex worker to ground-breaking AIDS activist, Berkowitz collaborated with performer Michael Callen and virologist Dr. Joseph Sonnabend to investigate and bring attention to the illness, and he helped author the first safe-sex manual. But instead of being lauded for such efforts, the assertion that a hedonistic lifestyle was contributing to the transmission of AIDS was denounced as self-hating and sex-negative, as few people-just as they were enjoying new freedoms-were ready to accept that they might be endangering their health with their choices.

With safer-sex practices a matter-of-fact occurrence for so many today, it's hard to remember that they weren't always in existence and Berkowitz's influence on our early awareness has been all but forgotten. In the face of this, SEX POSITIVE weaves an absorbing story of an activist hero-and places something we now take for granted into a compelling historical context.

World Premiere
A split-screen seques a spontaneous sexual encounter with myriad activities at an international AIDS conference, all culminating in a big birthday climax with a charismatic Bill Clinton at the dais. (Charles Lum, 2008, USA, 15 minutes)

Filmmakers Daryl Wein and Charles Lum will be on hand following the screening for discussion.

Wednesday, February 25 - 9:00 PM

New York Premiere
(Robert Pratten, 2008, United Kingdom, 75 minutes)
In this psycho-sexual horror/thriller, a London taxi driver is haunted by increasingly realistic apparitions of a beautiful woman and fantasies that suddenly veer well beyond the realm of consent. Enlisting the help of a parapsychologist, he learns he must relinquish his obsession with this goddess from a parallel dimension-or alien beings will destroy the one he truly loves. (Based on the Buddhist horror novel, “White Light” by William Scheinman.)

World Premiere
(Bret Wood, 2008, USA, 17 minutes)
To evade the psychological cruelty of her disabled husband, a woman arranges a tryst for him and a 'dancer' at a cheap motel.

Filmmakers Robert Pratten and Bret Wood will be on hand following the screening for discussion.

On Thursday, February 26 at 6:45 PM it's WHIPS & RESTRAINT, a kinky collection of shorts that dip into the toy-bag and play with the dynamics of sexual power and release, control and submission.

Program includes: GRAVUREN DESADE (John Campbell, 1992, USA), BUTLER (Erik Rosenlund, 2005, Sweden), IN THE CLOSET (Hungry Heart, 2007, Norway), 20 LICKS (Joseph S. Valle, 2008, USA), BELLE DE NATURE (Maria Beatty, 2008, France, 12 minutes), SERVING MADAME GINA (Gabriele Hoff, PsyD, 2008, USA) and KINK, INC. (Casey Clark, 2008, USA).

Then, at 9 PM, put on your favorite dress-up for LIPSTICK & CRINOLINES, a colorfully pansexual mash-up of gender frolics, blurred boundaries, several pairs of Lycra bicycle shorts-and some very high style!

Program includes: MISS JEZEBEL'S FEATHERS (Jesse Miksic, 2008, USA), DORIAN: A PICTURE (above, Joe E. Jeffreys, 2008, USA), PRITCH AND PANCH DO… THE CINDERFELLA EXPERIENCE AT MISS VERA'S FINISHING SCHOOL (Dylan Wynn Davies, 2005, UK) and THE TOUR DE PANTS (Luke Woodward, 2008, USA).

On Friday, Feb. 27 at 6:45 PM, THE WORKSHOP travels to a wooded glade near San Francisco, where a controversial 10-day seminar challenges the boundaries of normal convention and takes on societal constructs of sexuality and monogamy.

At 9 PM the shorts program, WANTON FEMALE DESIRE, celebrates the pursuit of female pleasure and offers up some general guidance as to what it is that a woman might want.

And at 11:10 PM, GRAPHIC SEXUAL HORROR takes a long peek behind the imposing facade of the notorious bondage website Insex.com, to explore the dark mind of its artistic creator and ask hard questions about personal responsibility and consent.

Kicking off Saturday, February 28 at 12:30 PM, and playing with several other BDSM-related shorts, KINKY is a sexy, informative and humorous look at black sexuality, fetish and kink.

At 2:30 PM, HAPPY ENDINGS? is an intriguing exploration of the Asian massage parlor industry in a city where a 25-year-old loophole has made the exchange of sex for money legal-as long as it happens indoors.

At 4:30 PM, the comedic MARTA'S SEX TAPE, about a painter who decides to make “special films” to pay off a loan, plays with two other colorful shorts on some ins-and-outs of work in the adult sphere.

At 6:45 PM it's TWISTED KNICKERS, a swirl of assorted kinky comedic bits, some of them funny “ha-ha,” some of them just a little bit off-kilter.

At 9 PM, THE AUTEUR [above], a mélange of romantic comedy and raunchy satire set in the world of adult film, tells the story of renowned porn director Arturo Domingo, the creative genius behind such classics as 'Five Easy Nieces' and 'Requiem for a Wet Dream.'

And, closing out the festival's regular screening schedule at 11:10 PM, a special event, BRING IT!, features a dazzling array of talent from today's adult cinema, each representing a wide range of genres and visual styles, all stepping up with a hot sampling of their recent creative endeavors.

CineKink NYC concludes the evening of Sunday, March 1 at 6 PM, with an Awards Celebration, including encore screenings of jury-selected best shorts from the week and presentation of the annual festival awards, to be followed at 8:3O PM by the CineKink Afterglow Party, one last chance to mingle with like-minded festival-goers and enjoy a few additional screenings, this time in a relaxed play party setting. The locations for both events will be announced at a later date.

Tickets: Tickets for each program - $10/door; $8/advance; $6/seniors & students, door only

Discounted pass: http://cinekink.bside.com/2009/films/cinekinknycfestivalpass_cinekink2009

'American Primitive' trailer

From Utah to Southern California: Directed by Gwen Wynne, and co-written by Wynne and Mary Beth Fielder, American Primitive is set in early 1970s Cape Cod, where two young women (Daniele Savre and Skye McCole Bartusiak) living with their father (Tate Donovan) and his business partner (Adam Pascal) struggle to come to terms with a secret – dad's relationship with his partner goes beyond business dealings – that may destroy their unconventional family.

Also in the American Primitive cast: veteran Susan Anspach (best known for Five Easy Pieces, but whose best performance thus far is probably her mom-on-the-brink in the bizarre 1981 comedy Montenegro), Josh Peck, James Sikking, Anne Ramsay, Johanna Braddy, Corey Sevier, Stacey Dash, Jordan Claire Greene, John Savage, and Jason Stuart.

American Primitive is having its world premiere tonight at the 2009 Palm Springs Film Festival. The film will be screened again on Tuesday afternoon, January 13, at Palm Springs' Camelot Theatres.

Official Site.

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