Birth of a Nation, Luke Cage, and the Power of Black Resilience


Over the last couple of years, several amazing reports were released that felt like throwbacks to an earlier America.

A 2000 Emory University study that found that 74 percent of whites, compared to only 50 percent of blacks, received painkillers for bone fractures. In 2016, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences looked at the intersection of racial biases and black pain in a survey of more than 300 medically and non-medically trained whites and found that 58 percent of the participants believed that “black skin is thicker than white,” including 40 percent of first- and second-year medical students and 25 percent of residents.

In 2012, the study “Racial Bias in the Perception of Other’s Pain” looked at pain perception as it related to white and black NFL players, in addition to a series of pain-related comparison scenarios (accidentally stapling your hand versus someone of another race stapling their hand), finding that participants consistently rated the pain experience of blacks lower. And in 2014, Social Psychological & Personality Science found a “super-humanization bias” when whites looked at blacks, more quickly assigning terms like ghost, paranormal and spirit to black people. Read more »

The Must-See Films at This Year’s qFLIX Film Festival

qFLIX Philadelphia is from July 5-10, 2016.

qFLIX Philadelphia is from July 5-10, 2016.

Through July 10th, this year’s qFLIX film festival is screening 50 of the most inventive and unique LGBTQ films the city has to offer. Here’s our day-by-day cheat sheet to the standouts.

WEDNESDAY: Kiss Me, Kill Me, directed by Casper Andres
9:30 p.m. at Prince Theatre, 1412 Chestnut Street
Thought you were ready for a gay marriage? This mystery murder caper will have you guessing again. This brilliantly crafted film features so many famous LGBTQ stars that you will be stunned by the cameos while wondering whodunnit. Read more »

5 Questions: Todd Solondz on His New Film, Wiener-Dog


Filmmaker Todd Solondz has been packing the art houses and subsequently bumming out his audience since the release of his 1995 dark comedy Welcome to the Dollhouse. Since then he has made the disturbing ensemble Happiness and its follow-up Life During Wartime, Storytelling, and Dark Horse, among other heavy works; call his particular brand of awkwardly confrontational humor Dispirit-Com. His new film, Wiener-Dog, follows along a similar trajectory of jet-black humor and despair. It uses a guileless dachshund to link together four different vignettes of characters suffering from one depressed malaise or another. In Solondz’s vision, the characters are invariably on the outside looking in, hoping for things to be different, but becoming more and more twisted around by their crippling loneliness. For all his on-screen bleakness, however, the director himself comes across as well-spoken and quite sociable. He spoke with Ticket about the quality of dogness, his disparagement of film school, and the small glimmer of hope he slips into the film. Read more »

LOCAL NEWS: LGBT Non-Discrimination Bills Look Stalled for Summer

harrisburg in half

The LGBT non-discrimination bills recently proposed in the Pennsylvania legislature might have to wait until the fall before being considered.

After all of the recent progress made by the state Senate in approving LGBT non-discrimination protections in committee, the possible passing of them seems to be stalled until the fall. Groups such as the Pennsylvania Family Organization have made the argument that such polices would infringe upon their “religious liberty,” and GOP legislators are using that opposition as a justification to hold back on a vote. “Since the House wasn’t going to act on it this week anyway, I’m allowing our chairmen some time to hold hearings and do what they need to do to deal with the bill, and then we’ll make a decision in the fall,” said Senate majority leader Jake Corman to the press. As of now, both parties will are expected to continue to make the case for their positions until lawmakers decided to finally consider a vote. According to Equality Pennsylvania, 68 percent of LGBT Pennsylvanians are not fully protected from discrimination practices in their local ordinances. As a result, Pennsylvania is ranked the lowest on the Human Rights Campaign’s State Equality Index. Read more »

5 Questions: Whit Stillman on Love & Friendship

Whit Stillman, director of “Love & Friendship,” with star Kate Beckinsale.

Whit Stillman, director of “Love & Friendship,” with star Kate Beckinsale.

Whit Stillman has been making films since his sparkling debut, Metropolitan, back in 1990, but it has taken until now for him to find the perfect literary muse for his brand of hyper-verbose, witty ruminations. Critics who first questioned the pairing of the modernist filmmaker and the writing of Jane Austen didn’t see how deeply connected their work was. Both are droll and keen observers of human nuance, but they also share a love of characters who use their loquaciousness either to mask their true feelings or to reveal far too much of them. His new film, Love & Friendship, based on a very early Austen novella that was never published in her lifetime, stars Kate Beckinsale as the wily, conniving widow Lady Susan, who hatches a plan to marry her daughter off to someone of wealth, while reserving a second rich husband for herself, in the form of the doofy, brilliantly confused Sir James Martin (Tom Bennett, in a command performance). Based in New York, Stillman trekked the short distance down to Philly and spoke with us about his Austen connection, casting an anti-heroine, and the joy of watching Tom Bennett at work. Read more »

LGBTQ&A: Isaiah Solomon Freeman

Photo of Isaiah Solomon Freeman.

Isaiah Solomon Freeman

White|Wash, directed by Philly native Isaiah Solomon Freeman, is an experimental horror film — set in an imaginary world where marginalized images are the standard — about an aspiring actress and single mother who experiments with bleaching when she realizes there are roles for women of a darker complexion.

What inspired you to do this film?
Growing up, I had self-confidence issues. I realized that I hated my features that didn’t represent European features. I hated my nose, my complexion, and my lips. I talked to friends who felt the same way about themselves. When it came to writing my senior thesis film, I wanted to do a horror film, but I also wanted a film that dealt with race. I was reading The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison, when I realized that dealing with colorism would be a perfect topic to get a conversation started as well as incorporate a horror feel. Read more »

NATIONAL NEWS: GLADD Study Shows Major Drop in LGBT Diversity in Films

Transgender biopic The Danish Girl.

Transgender biopic “The Danish Girl.”

Only 25.5 percent of the LGBT characters portrayed in films from seven major studios this year are of color.

While Hollywood’s racial diversity issues have become a major topic of discussion, the problems appear to be even deeper when it comes to LGBTQ diversity. According to a new report released on Monday by GLADD, the racial diversity of LGBT characters has fallen noticeably. Overall, 17.5 percent of last year’s films from the seven major Hollywood studios contained characters who were lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. However, only 25.5 percent of those characters were of color; the previous year’s percentage was 32.1 percent. “Hollywood’s films lag far behind any other form of media when it comes to portrayals of LGBT characters,” GLADD president and CEO Sarah Ellis said in the report. “The film industry must embrace new and inclusive stories if it wants to remain competitive and relevant.” The organization says the industry “must do better to include LGBT characters in roles directly tied to plot and which reflect the wide diversity of our community, including people of color, those living with disabilities, and a variety of geographical and ideological backgrounds.” Read more »

Five Questions: Jeremy Saulnier on Green Room

Jeremy Saulnier, director of Green Room.

Jeremy Saulnier, director of Green Room.

Considering the bloody, jarring material he often works with, Jeremy Saulnier is an almost absurdly normal and unassuming seeming man. His new film, Green Room, follows the violent travails of a callow, dead broke punk band who get a gig booked at a mysterious club outside of Portland that turns out to be a white supremacist stronghold, lead by the terrifyingly calm Darcy (Patrick Stewart). When a body suddenly turns up in their dressing room, things go from bad to worse in a hurry. Soon, the band is fighting for their lives just to survive the night.

Despite the distinctly B-movie set up, Saulnier, who showed a penchant for such violent meditation in his previous film, Blue Ruin, never lets the material move into slick silliness or flamboyant gore. Instead, it’s a dark, gritty, scarily realistic account of survival. The director spoke with us on the topics of violence, visual storytelling, and finding an audience. Read more »

EDITOR’S PICKS: My Top 10 LGBTQ Movies on Netflix

Oscar winner Michael Douglas won an Emmy award for his role as flamboyant entertainer Liberace.

Michael Douglas won an Emmy for his turn as flamboyant entertainer Liberace.

1. The Kids Are All Right (2010)

This Oscar-nominated comedy/drama stars acting heavyweights Julianne Moore and Annette Bening as they navigate lesbian parenting and love in one of the most reflective gay films of the decade.

2. Boys Don’t Cry (1999)

Hillary Swank won her first Oscar for this emotional biopic on the troubled life of Brandon Teena, a transgender lover who lost his life due to a hate crime in a Midwestern town. Read more »

REVIEW: Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine

Photo from Magnolia Pictures.

Photo from Magnolia Pictures.

Why is it that when the world learned of Steve Jobs’ death in 2011, complete strangers who never even knew him were overcome with tears?

This is the question director Alex Gibney poses to the audience at the beginning of Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine, amidst shots of people leaving flowers at Apple stores, holding up virtual candles on their iPads, and mourning the loss of a man who seemed, before his cancer, invincible. Read more »

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