Small Town Gay Bar

There’s no groundbreaking crafts­man­ship or technique on display in director Malcolm Ingram’s nonetheless very well-made documentary, Small Town Gay Bar, although Jonathon Cliff’s cinema­tography is often quite lovely. What makes this stylistically unassuming festival favorite so powerful is all that it reveals through understatement. Centered on the lives in and around small-town gay bars in Mississippi (primarily the two spots Rumors and Different Seasons), the film tentacles out to address local gay bashing in macro (the religion-based attacks by the likes of Fred Phelps and Donald Wildmon’s American Family Association) and micro (the young 20-somethings who brutally tortured and murdered an 18-year-old gay boy). But it also celebrates the diversity of gay and lesbian folk who, lacking options of subniche splintering, have to come together under one roof — flaming trannies, flannel-wearing dykes, black drag queens, cowboy homos, disco disciples and country-music devotees. It’s family in a way you rarely find in the gay ghettos of WeHo, Castro, etc. In a wonderfully unforced but focused manner, Ingram captures the countless struggles still existing for queer folk in the Bible Belt. While there are no real shocks or revelations as to what those difficulties might be, witnessing the extraordinary courage of those interviewed, who let the cameras follow them to their workplaces, into their homes, through their photo albums, is to be blown away by the resilience and strength captured. Outfest Wednesdays at the American Cinematheque; Wed., April 18, 7:30 p.m.


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