Pick of the Day: For the Bible Tells Me So
Earnest documentaries about coming out are become an indie-film-fest cliche. Earnest documentaries that seek to resolve perceived tensions between homosexuality and Christian faith might be a Southern indie-film-festival cliche.
But, happily, For the Bible Tells Me So -- which chronicles four religious families coping with a son or daughter's homosexuality -- isn't a film to be appreciated solely for its good intentions. Rather, it's a well-made, effective piece of movie-making that begins with a sharply assembled collection of pertinent archival footage: See anti-gay activist Anita Bryant get a pie in the face at a Des Moine press conference, then immediately bow her head in tearful prayer. See an odious Jimmy Swaggart, circa 2004, tell a congregation: "I've never seen a man in my life I wanted to marry. If one ever looks at me like that, I'm gonna kill him and tell God he died."
From there, For the Bible Tells Me So introduces its families, all of whom end up having some significance within the gay-rights movement and one of whom happens to be the Gephardts of Missouri, with the former congressman and presidential candidate and current father of out-lesbian daughter Chrissy sitting down for a family interview just like everyone else. Screening at 6:05 p.m.
Feature Pick: Swedish Auto
I haven't had time to fully pre-screen this debut feature from writer-director Derek Sieg, which stars Lukas Haas (Brick, Alpha Dog) as a socially awkward, voyeuristic mechanic and January Jones (We Are Marshall, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada) as one of his objects of contemplation, but on first contact it looks and feels like one of the better unheralded narrative features to screen at the festival in any year. Screens at 8 p.m.
Shorts Pick: First Amendment: Cancelled
This winner of this year's Hometowner Award for best local narrative short screens today as part of "Shorts Program 2." The four-minute film from Angel Ortiz, previously a winner at Live From Memphis' Lil Film Fest, is an uncomfortable but visually impressive take on the subject of torture. Another local short of note in the program is Jon Sparks' Happy Artistic Freedom Day, another Lil Film Fest grad that boasts a strong lead performance from Amber O'Daniels. Screening at 3:05 p.m.
-- Chris Herrington