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Home Movie FestivalsAFI FEST Gay Republicans + Rwanda Genocide: AFI FEST Winners

Gay Republicans + Rwanda Genocide: AFI FEST Winners

Gay RepublicansGay Republicans movie poster: How can a(n even moderately) sane person be both openly gay and a member of the United States’ openly anti-gay Republican party? Wash Westmoreland’s Gay Republicans attempts to show their reasoning – or lack thereof.
  • Gay Republicans, the Rwanda genocide, and two young Mexicans’ wild weekend among this year’s winners at Los Angeles’ AFI FEST.

Political documentary Gay Republicans wins Los Angeles’ AFI FEST Audience Award

Ramon Novarro biography Beyond Paradise

Gay Republicans, Wash Westmoreland’s documentary about an apparent schism within the U.S.-based right-wing gay organization Log Cabin Republicans, was the Audience Award winner for Best Documentary at Los Angeles’ 2004 AFI FEST, held Nov. 4–14 at the ArcLight theater complex at Sunset and Vine, in the heart of Hollywood.

Narrated by actress Pamala Tyson, Gay Republicans revolves around the difficult choices facing gays who support the United States’ pro-big business, pro-“traditional values” Republican party while knowing full well that Republican President George W. Bush is adamant in his opposition to gay marriage and that the Republican party itself is mostly anti-gay in just about every regard.

Which should come first, party allegiance and right-wing ideology or (their own) civil rights? Gay Republicans depicts the inevitable conflicts that arise from the gay + Republican oxymoron, presenting interviews with a handful of, what else, avowed gay Republicans espousing a mix of right-of-center and far-right views.

Rwanda genocide + dysfunctional parents

From the inner conflicts facing U.S. gay Republicans to the outer conflicts that culminated in the depravity of the Rwanda genocide: the AFI FEST Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature went to Terry George’s real-life-inspired Hotel Rwanda, set during the 1994 blood-soaked orgy that tore apart that small central African country.

Winner of the Toronto Film Festival’s People’s Choice Award back in September, Hotel Rwanda features American actors Don Cheadle, Nick Nolte, and Joaquin Phoenix, in addition to British actress Sophie Okonedo.

Less thematically disturbing than either Gay Republicans or Hotel Rwanda was the AFI FEST Audience Awards’ other winner: Neele Leana Vollmar’s My Parents / Meine Eltern, about a young woman who, with some trepidation, decides to introduce the man of her dreams to her dysfunctional parents. My Parents was chosen as the festival’s Best Short Film.

Duck Season nabs Grand Jury Prize

Curiously, none of the AFI FEST Audience Award selections won any of the Grand Jury prizes.

Instead of Hotel Rwanda, Mexican filmmaker Fernando Eimbcke’s debut feature Duck Season / Temporada de patos was the Grand Jury Prize winner for Best Feature Film in competition. Set in an apartment in Mexico City’s Tlatelolco housing development, the black-and-white Duck Season shows how two male teenagers (Daniel Miranda, Diego Cataño) spend one Sunday afternoon while their parents are away and the power goes out.

Instead of My Parents, the winner of the Jury Prize in the International Shorts Competition was Taika Waititi’s New Zealand entry Two Cars One Night, with a special mention going to Chris Landreth’s Canadian short Ryan, about National Film Board of Canada animator Ryan Larkin.

Lastly, instead of Gay Republicans, another Canadian entry, Avi Lewis’ The Take, was the Grand Jury’s Best Documentary. Written by Lewis’ wife, author and social activist Naomi Klein, The Take reveals how a group of auto factory employees turned their Buenos Aires-based company into a worker cooperative. Robin Scovill’s U.S.-made The Other Side of AIDS received a special mention.

La mala educación Bad Education Gael García BernalBad Education with Gael García Bernal: Considering Wash Westmoreland’s Audience Award winner Gay Republicans and the gala presentation of Pedro Almodóvar’s Bad Education, gay-themed movies had a significant place at this year’s AFI FEST.

International movie showcase

This year’s AFI FEST showcased more than 130 films from 42 countries. Compared to the previous edition, festival organizers have estimated a 20 percent increase in box office receipts, while the number of attending filmmakers has doubled.

At a packed screening of his The Chorus / Les Choristes, three-time Academy Award-winning producer Arthur Cohn (for the documentary features Le ciel et la boue, 1961; American Dream, 1990; One Day in September, 1999) told the crowd that the American Film Institute (AFI) should be renamed the “International Film Institute.” He wasn’t exaggerating.

In fact, at least when it comes to the AFI FEST, the title “International” would be more than appropriate as most of the festival’s highlights were non-U.S. fare such as:

  • Three titles mentioned above: Hotel Rwanda (U.K. | South Africa | Italy), Duck Season (Mexico), and the Christophe Barratier-directed The Chorus (France | Switzerland).
  • Pedro Almodóvar’s Bad Education / La Mala educación (Spain).
  • Zhang Yimou’s House of Flying Daggers (China).
  • Alejandro Amenábar’s The Sea Inside / Mar adentro (Spain | France | Italy).
  • Fatih Akin’s Head-On / Gegen die Wand (Germany).
  • Andrés Wood’s Machuca (Chile).
  • Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s A Very Long Engagement / Un long dimanche de fiançailles (France | U.S.)
  • Darrell Roodt’s Yesterday (South Africa).

World cinema talent

Among the film celebrities from around the world who took part in this year’s AFI FEST were:

Penélope Cruz. Lesley Ann Warren. Shohreh Aghdashloo. Audrey Tautou. Zhang Ziyi. Orlando Bloom. Alejandro Amenábar. Don Cheadle.

Gael García Bernal. Joseph Fiennes. David Lynch. Jodie Foster. Olivier Martinez. Kevin Bacon. Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Javier Bardem. Kevin Costner.

And Pedro Almodóvar, who received a special tribute.

“Gay Republicans + Rwanda Genocide: AFI FEST Winners” notes

AFI FEST website.

See also: Starring Kevin Bacon, Nicolle Kassell’s child molester drama The Woodsman won the London Film Festival’s top award.

See also: Socially conscious Moroccan drama given top award at the Carthage Film Festival.

Gay Republicans movie poster: World of Wonder.

Gael García Bernal Bad Education / La mala educación image: El Deseo.

“Gay Republicans & Rwanda Genocide: AFI FEST Winners” last updated in May 2023.

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