Sundance Film Festival: Gay Themes

I Love You Phillip Morris Rodrigo Santoro Jim Carrey as gay artistI Love You Phillip Morris with Jim Carrey as the titular “I,” real-life con artist Steven Jay Russell, and Rodrigo Santoro. Directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, this gay comedy-drama-romance of sorts received quite a few warm reviews at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival; lawsuits and infighting, however, ended up delaying its domestic release. Ewan McGregor plays “I's” fellow inmate & object of desire Phillip Morris, no relation to the one-elled cigarette brand.

Gay boycott or no, Sundance 2009 has several films dealing – at least to some extent – with gay characters.

The most publicized gay-focused film at Sundance is I Love You Phillip Morris, about a scary-looking ex-cop (Jim Carrey) who becomes a criminal and is arrested. While in jail, he falls for a fellow inmate (Ewan McGregor). Based on a book by Steve McVicker, I Love You Phillip Morris was written and directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, whose writing credits include Bad Santa and Bad News Bears.

Benjamin Bratt in La Mission

Peter Bratt's La Mission portrays the difficult relationship between a San Francisco gay teen (Jeremy Ray Valdez) and his tough father (Benjamin Bratt, above), who throws his son out of the house. After the event, Dad must deal with his anti-gay bigotry.

Unmade Beds by Alexis Dos Santos

Writer-director Alexis Dos Santos' Unmade Beds chronicles the dos and don'ts of London's club scene.

One Day in a Life by Stefano Tummolini

Stefano Tummolini's Italian drama, Un altro pianeta / One Day in a Life chronicles the happenings in one deceptively ordinary day. One Day in a Life was the 2008 Queer Lion winner at the Venice Film Festival.

Emmy Rossum in Dare

Dare is a dramatic comedy about three high-school seniors (Emmy Rossum, Ashley Springer and Zach Gilford), one of whom is sexually disoriented. Also in the cast, Alan Cumming and Sandra Bernhard. Directed by Adam Salky.

Humpday by Lynn Shelton

Writer-director Lynn Shelton's comedy Humpday revolves around two male heterosexual buddies who decide to have sex with one another so as to take part on an amateur porn contest.


Push: Based on the novel by Sapphire depicts the emotional travails of an overweight teenager (Gabourey Sidibe) whose life is changed by a lesbian teacher (Paula Patton). Also in the cast: Mo'Nique, Sherri Shepherd, Lenny Kravitz, and Mariah Carey. Directed by Lee Daniels.

Shouting Fire by Liz Garbus

Liz Garbus' documentary Shouting Fire: Stories from the Edge of Free Speech discusses various contemporary First Amendment cases, including that of a student who sued for the right to wear Bible-inspired anti-gay messages on T-shirts at school.

James by Connor Clements

Among the gay-themed shorts are the Finnish comedy A Mate, about a supposedly straight guy caught having sex with a (male) friend; Marco Berger's The Watch, in which two young men spending the evening together may or may not have sex; Connor Clements' James (above, available for free on itunes), in which an Irish boy tries to come to terms with his sexuality; Julian Breece's The Young and Evil, the story of a gay teen who wants to seduce an HIV-prevention counselor into infecting him with the virus; and Jenny Olson's 575 Castro St., an experimental documentary shot on the empty set of Gus Van Sant's Milk.

'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.

American Primitive by Gwen Wynne

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.


Rodrigo Santoro and Jim Carrey I Love You Phillip Morris image: Roadside Attractions.

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1 Comment to Sundance Film Festival: Gay Themes

  1. Joel O

    Don't forget the fantastic “Everything Strange and New”! Sundance buzz was strong.