PJ Raval's Call Her Ganda Will Open aGLIFF 2018
Local director headlines roster of new and returning films
By Richard Whittaker,
11:20AM, Wed. Jul. 11, 2018
Call Her Ganda, the new documentary by Austin director PJ Raval, has been picking up awards at festivals nationwide all summer. Now Austin filmlovers will get their chance to see it, as it's been announced as the opening night for aGLIFF, the All Genders, Lifestyles, and Identities Film Festival.
You may recognize the fest from its old name (the Austin Gay and Lesbian International Film Festival), but it's retaining the same quality of programming, with both new and retrospective screenings.
Aside from Ravals' opening night presentation, he'll be screening another of his award-winning features, 2014's Before You Know It. However, he's not the only director getting a double bill, as aGLIFF celebrates another Texan filmmaker, Yen Tan, as the recipient of its first ever Tribute Award. That honor will be marked with a return screening of his SXSW 2018 AIDS crisis drama 1985, but also 2008's Ciao. Plus, on August 22 there will be a special fifth anniversary return for his 2013 SXSW success Pit Stop, with a free screening at the Dougherty Arts Center.
As always, there are a few more films that have become Austin festival favorites making a local return, including two more SXSW titles (Spanish drama Anchor & Hope, and the award-winning TransMilitary).
But there are also some big premieres on this first list, with Argentinian sperm donor tale Mater making its US debut. Plus Studio 54, the chronicle of New York's legendary and short-lived mini-bohemia by director Matt Tyrnauer, getting its first exposure in Texas (if you can't wait for that, aGLIFF is giving a sneak early peak at Tyrnauer's most recent tale of glorious debauchery, Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood, next Tuesday, July 17 at the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar - tickets available here)
aGLIFF 2018 runs Sept. 6-9. Tickets and full lineup soon at www.agliff.com. Now here's that first wave of films:
Call Her Ganda
D: PJ Raval
USA, Southewst premiere, 93 mins.
The film investigates the story of Jennifer Laude, a Filipina transwoman, who was brutally murdered by a U.S. Marine. Three women intimately invested in the case - an activist attorney, a transgender journalist and Jennifer's mother, galvanizing a political uprising, pursuing justice and taking on hardened histories of US imperialism.
D: Yen Tan
USA, 80 mins.
Inspired by the award-winning short film of the same name, 1985 follows Adrian (Cory Michael Smith, Gotham), a closeted young man returning to his Texas hometown for Christmas during the first wave of the AIDS crisis. Burdened with an unspeakable tragedy in New York, Adrian reconnects with his brother (Aidan Langford) and estranged childhood friend (Jamie Chung), as he struggles to divulge his dire circumstances to his religious parents (Virginia Madsen and Michael Chiklis).
Anchor & Hope
D: Carlos Marques-Marcet
Spain, 113 mins. In their mid-30s, Eva (Oona Chaplin) and Kat’s (Natalia Tena) humble, yet carefree, lifestyle in their London canal boat gets turned upside down when Eva presents Kat with an ultimatum: she wants a child. Kat resists, knowing that it will end the bohemian lifestyle she’s always envisaged with Eva. When Kat’s best friend, Roger (David Verdaguer), drops in from Barcelona to party with the ladies, however, the three of them toy around with the idea of creating a baby together. Forced into a corner, Kat sees no other way out but to say yes. Surprisingly, their offbeat DIY fertilization process is actually successful. As Eva enjoys her pregnancy and Roger fantasizes about his role in his new family, Kat feels like the third wheel and begins distancing herself. When Eva has an unexpected miscarriage, the group’s true feelings are laid bare, leading Eva and Kat to break up while Roger prepares to go back to Barcelona.
Before You Know It
D: PJ Ravel
USA, 110 mins.
Three gay seniors navigate the adventures, challenges, and surprises of life and love in their golden years.
D: Yen Tan
USA, 87 mins.
Jeff is taking care of everything Mark left behind when he died in an accident. Mark was about to have a visitor, Andrea, an Italian guy he met online. Now, Jeff and Andrea have the chance to share memories of the Mark they knew while getting to know each other.
D: Pablo D’Alo Abba Argentina, North American Premiere, 80 mins
Lena and Celeste love each other and desperately want to become mothers. One night, they go out looking for a sperm donor and choose a stranger to conceive their child with. That night Celeste meets Darío, a young man unhappy with his life and dominated by his overprotective mother. The event will set their lives on a different course, especially Dario's, who will discover that he can do something for himself. Based on the play Wind in a Violin by Claudio Tolcachir.
D: Matt Tyrnauer
USA, Texas Premiere, 98 mins.
For 33 months, from 1978 to 1980, the nightclub Studio 54 was the place to be seen in Manhattan. A haven of hedonism, tolerance, glitz and glamor, Studio was very hard to gain entrance to and impossible to ignore, with news of who was there filling the gossip columns daily. Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager, two college friends from Brooklyn, succeeded in creating the ultimate escapist fantasy in the heart of the theater district. Rubell was the outgoing party-boy who wanted to be everybody’s friend and was photographed with every celebrity du jour who entered the club and Schrager was the quiet, behind-the-scenes workhorse who shunned the limelight. Studio 54 was an instant success and a cash cow, but the drug-and-sex-fueled dream soon crumbled before their eyes. With unprecedented access to Schrager, who tells the whole unvarnished story for the first time, and a treasure-trove of rare footage, director Matt Tyrnauer constructs a vivid, glorious portrait of a disco-era phenomenon, and tells the story of two friends who stuck together through an incredible series of highs and lows.
D: Gabe Silverman, Fiona Dawson
USA, 93 mins.
The 2018 SXSW Audience Award-winning feature film debut by Gabriel Silverman & Fiona Dawson, Transmilitary follows the Emmy-nominated short film "Transgender, At War and In Love. Around 15,500 transgender people serve in the U.S. military (notably the largest transgender employer in the U.S.), where they must conceal their gender identity because military policies ban their service. Transmilitary chronicles the lives of four individuals (Senior Airman Logan Ireland, Corporal Laila Villanueva, Captain Jennifer Peace & First Lieutenant El Cook) defending their country’s freedom while fighting for their own. They put their careers and their families’ livelihoods on the line by coming out as transgender to top brass officials in the Pentagon in hopes of attaining the equal right to serve. The ban was lifted in 2016, but with President Trump now trying to reinstate it, their futures hang in the balance again.