Home #Hwoodtimes Opening Night Film – CIRCUS OF BOOKS The Orpheum Theater (Los Angeles)...

Opening Night Film – CIRCUS OF BOOKS The Orpheum Theater (Los Angeles) Thursday, July 18th 

CIRCUS OF BOOKS' Micah Mason, Joshua Mason, director Rachel Mason, and film subjects Barry and Karen Mason (Photo: Amanda Pedroza)

    • By Judith Oehman
      Damien Navarro | 2019 Outfest Los Angeles Opening Night Gala

      Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 7/18/19 – The hottest LGBTQ party of the summer. Our west coast Broadway was painted red, the Orpheum Theatre swayed.

      This was it, the Pre and Post party for the Gala Opening can be called The height. If you missed this I pity you. Effen Vodka, Angel City Brewery allowed the drink to flow. L.A.’s most fun restaurants made food tasting delectable. If the drink and food was not your thing then you could entertain yourself on the catwalk, or the ” I love..” booth. Now, dance some, lots of room and good music.
      Tribeca, Sundance and Outfest, yes we are there with the elite festivals, Outfest is a leading the charge for inclusion of all. Outfest maybe L.A. based but it is unlimited in its outreach to a wider, all inclusive universe.
      Mike Dougherty | 2019 Outfest Los Angeles Opening Night Galaike Dou

      This could not have been more visible then at the spectacular opening party last night. You could see the groups gathering as early as 530. Your eyes covered an assembly of brightly clothed people who could not be classified as gay/non gay, young, old or any of the normal groupings.  Everyone was there, everyone was mingling, no barriers. We were all ready the celebrate on the Red Carpet. At 6:30 the gates flew open.  The movement was nonstop. People enjoying the old friend reunions. Folks catching up with friends, as well as, smiling at the filmmakers and celebrities who were there to chat and relax.

      The film of the evening was the prefect reflection to the people gathered to await the doors opening. Circus of Books is a documentary of the personal and political history of a family run business. A nice Jewish couple who made and sold gay porn on Santa Monica Blvd for 30 years.
      I was walking out to the street and could see people dancing.  When I was close enough people asked me what was happening. I replied, this is the opening night of Outfest, a gay film festival.  I would have said more but I was interrupted by a dude who said, with a smile, oh, more gay pride. Yah, lots  more gay pride and acceptance.

Valerie Milano, Rachel Mason – writer & director of “Circus of Books, Andrea Meyerson – AMP Productions (Photo: THT)

AS far as gay film festivals go, Outfest takes the cake, it is the icing.  The Los Angeles-based festival is the country’s leading LGTBQ film festival, supporting independent queer film and filmmakers for over three decades. This year, as in recent years, the programs are directed by all the varied types of thought. Efforts are not limited, films directed by women, people of color, and/or trans  all filmmakers are welcome.

This is seen with the fullness of the first film to be screened. Circus of Books is intimate in an unexpected way. This film is a labyrinth. If I informed you that you would travel on a journey with a family that ran one of the largest gay porn business in L.A. for 30 years, simple. Now, we add that this is a sweet,religious mother of 3 and a Jewish couple. Now, try to tie in the fact that this nice couple has had their store on one of gayest streets in the world, Santa Monica Blvd, had a wonderful relationship with the community and their gay employees but the women in the couple, mom, keeps her business life a dark secret and can not accept it when her son declares his homosexuality.  “mea culpa” The mea culpa of the mothers story is the the couple beginning leader of the Pflag. It can”t all be in one film. You’re right. the balance of the labyrinth. You can’t sense that all of the this movement is taking you anywhere but it but it leaves you filled with tear stained cheeks and raving applause.
There is more.  This powerful documentary, by Rachel Mason (who gave us The Lives Of Hamilton Fish in 2014), tells a far reaching tale of family history and gay history but it also takes us into the psychological twists of the mind putting feelings in boxes, the ability that allows us to no see our own hypocrisy. separate us from each other. This is speaks to the condition of this country and the ruling powers.
Circus of Books was an unofficial community center for “boys town”  a place of cruising, hardcore porn and dildos. The reason for Outfest is to encourage the LGBTQ community into the wider, mainstream culture. Macon’s film recognizes the inherent value and infinite diversity of the full LGBTQ universe. See the film and feel the freedom of love and acceptance.
Christopher Racster | 2019 Outfest Los Angeles Opening Night Gala

Christopher Racster will be retiring this year.  There was a tribute to him. I believe that reading his own words will make you understand why we are so sad to be losing him as the director of Outfest.

“The reason we put on this festival is to encourage the LGBTQ community and the wider community — mainstream culture — to recognize the inherent value and infinite diversity,” Outfest Los Angeles LGBT Film Festival opens at the Orpheum Theatre Outfest began 35 years ago with a group of students desperate to find positive depictions of themselves on film; today Outfest is the launch pad for the storytellers that bring our stories to life on screen.” said Christopher Racster, Outfest Executive Director. “I am proud that this year’s program reflects just how far we have come as a movement, as a community and as storytellers. These films capture the true complexities of our lives, our loves, and our identities. But our advancements have only TAKEN our community so far, and we are proud to champion this year’s filmmakers who capture the ongoing fight for our rights for freedom, for love, and for acceptance.”
There was a lovely tribute to the old and the new director. Lots of cheers for the past and hope for the future.  I thank a man who did a brave job during a thankless time.