A New Awards Ceremony Attempts to Unify Gay Independant Cinema

By Thom Fowler
Posted 04/01/02 18:49:45

The First Annual International Gay and Lesbian Independent Film Awards convened at the Ed Gould Theatre on Friday, March 22nd to honor the achievements of gay and lesbian film makers. The Awards show is organized by Jorge Ameer who runs Hollywood Independants, a film distribution company.

“The reason behind the awards show is to create a central station for all the festival films that win awards.”, Ameer tells me. “The jury will be heads of film festivals, head programmer, festival directors and film editors from gay press publications.”

Ballots were sent out and given a timeline, those who turned in their ballot before the deadline were counted. Noticably absent were ballots from the Frameline San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Film Festival and Los Angeles Outfest, two important festivals for gay and lesbian film. Respondees represented a healthy sample of domestic and international festivals and members of the gay press. (Not, “members of the press who are gay”, an important distinction)

The Ed Gould Theatre was about half-full and those who showed up wondered if they hadn’t been had by the high school prom décor. Highlights: The Paris Is Burning slash Priscilla Queen of the Desert presentation of the award by the “Queen of Nocturnal Wonderland” played by Shelly Price. The Queen’s elaborate headpiece relied on a drag queens sense of practical fabulosity and an aluminum foil turkey roasting pan was artfully used as the base. Shelly Price, an actual female, played the role of the queen. She walked on in darkness and the spotlight finally found her as she was exiting the other side of the stage. Highly dragalicious.

The props from the show will become part of the Glitter Awards float in this years Los Angeles Gay Day Parade.

Sandy Dubowski, director of the door smashing “Trembling Before G-D”, accepted his award, a ceramic goblet spray painted gold and covered in gold glitter, with a humble “shalom”.

Before the show, I mistook Dubowski for the press coordinator but he was looking for someone to come and explain to him what he was supposed to do. “Have you ever heard about this”, he asks as he peers into the empty Ed Gould Theatre, wondering what he had gotten himself into. I explain this is the first one.

You know what they say in the non-profit (now correctly known as the public benefit sector), if you want to get a celebrity to show up at your event, give them an award. Everyone else will come for the buzz.

The sincerity level of the event rose dramatically when the Patrik, writer/director of Punks, sang the theme song from his film. Diversity was an important theme for the show. “We wanted to show something that was not too white and not too American”, said Ameer.

The nervous chit chat of the audience was vented by Ant whose jokes about the amateurishness of the show saved the presentation. Ant is currently a regular on the VH1 series, “Late Night With Zach”.

“We didn’t know what to expect, but we were hoping for the best, towards the end of the show, we saw where the show was going, you can preparee and organize, but it’s the people that make the show, the presenters, the performers, the show now has a vibe of its own. We wanted elegant campiness.”, said Ameer.

The 2002 awards was recorded and will tour other gay festivals in a further effort to unite the world of gay independent cinema.

Ameer received several emails after the show criticizing him for swaying heavily towards male films so next year he is adding a category for lesbian films.

Ameer and his crew started working on the ceremony in December but he is giving himself a longer lead time this year and has already begun work on developing sponsor partnerships, and planning the 2003 awards which will open with a fashion show. He also wants to build a permanent website and is happy to talk to volunteers and donors.

Alexis Arquette (brother of David and Roseanna, brother-in-law of Courtney Cox) showed up to present with a superhero mask painted on his face. I saw Alexis again outside the Elton John Aids Foundation Oscar party and asked him about the green glittery mask. Arquette had a late date at Tiger Beat versus Beat It at the El Rey where he was hosting a competetion between who is less likely to get a date – people who love top 40 or people who can’t stop dressing up like Duran Duran. (okay, I had to put a joke in there, hard news is just so boring)

Ameer tells me the name of the award, to him, stands for “a community that likes to shine and glitter shines.”

© Copyright HBS Entertainment, Inc.