A crop of amazing short films, all featuring gay themes or starring or directed by LGBT people, screened last week at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. The movies were part of the 6th annual Don Thompson LGBT Film Festival, which nurtures queer filmmaking talent and is named in honor of Thompson, a librarian and archivist at USC's School of Cinematic Arts. Sponsored by USC Lambda, the university's LGBT alumni group, the movies were judged by filmmakers Tina Mabry, Glenne McElhinney, Grease director Randal Kleiser, Sony Pictures Television executive Jason Clodfelter, and the author of this article; comedian and actor Drew Droege of faux-Chloe Sevigny fame, hosted the event.
All seven movies were phenomenal, with themes of adolescence (Genderfreak), fantasy (Dream Girl), loss (Hew), and hypocrisy (Heterophobia) explored. Three winners were announced: the audience award went to Conor Fetting-Smith's Bingo Night, a documentary on entertainers earning their keep at bingo games, the prize for LGBT awareness went to the searing, yet hopeful Teens Like Phil by Dominic Haxton, and the award for artistic merit was given to Leopold Dewolf for the four-minute relationship treatise Niagara. The latter film, shown below, will leave you slightly breathless.