Gay films at Sundance reveal more equality, fewer stereotypes

Fri Jan 24, 2014 7:44pm EST
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By Piya Sinha-Roy

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - While politicians and judges in Utah tangle over whether same-sex marriage should be legal, filmmakers at the state's famous Sundance Film Festival found inspiration in the growing equality for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

The Sundance festival, long a top venue for gay-themed film, this year offered a documentary on the legal battle over gay marriage in California and a drama on a girl coming to terms with her mother's transition to a man. And in the alternative Slamdance festival, a popular documentary looked at conversion therapy practiced by some evangelical Christian groups, which gay rights activists view as brainwashing and coercion.

The trend in LGBT films shown at Sundance in recent years, festival watchers say, is toward a less stereotypical representation of the community as equality takes hold.

Filmmakers "are making the viewer use their brain more, and it's great," said Lance Bass, a former member of boy band N'Sync who came out as gay in 2006 and is now involved in the film business.

"They're telling stories about LGBT members that happen to be gay, instead of making the film all about being gay."

This year's LGBT films at Sundance include "52 Tuesdays," where a young girl comes to terms with her mother's transition into a man. "Love is Strange" follows an older married gay couple forced to live apart when one of them loses his job, a film exploring the effects of the economic downturn as much as it does gay marriage.

The legal fight for same-sex marriage is what captured the attention of "The Case Against 8" filmmakers Ben Cotner and Ryan White, a contender in the U.S. documentary competition.

The film explores California's controversial Proposition 8, a ban on same-sex marriage. The five-year ban was lifted by a San Francisco appeals court in June 2013 after a judge declared it unconstitutional.   Continued...

People wait in line in the early morning to buy tickets to films at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, January 18, 2014. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart