In their promotional photos on the web page for Maine Elements of Film, co-founders Charlotte Warren and Eddy Bolz are shown with paper bags over their heads, while their bios consist of the statement, “Does it matter? Let’s talk about something more interesting. Like movies.” Fair enough.
Not to rob the duo of their mystique, but Warren and Bolz, who started the local film organization last year, have been two of the most dedicated and plugged-in people on the Maine film scene for a long time. (Look for their names to be all over October’s annual all-spooky horror anthology institution Damnationland this fall.)
Having just brought us the comedy shorts collection Thaw at Portland’s Apohadion Theater in April, the dynamic duo are continuing their mission to bring eclectic, exciting movies to town with Wednesday’s queer film showcase, Fliq. Standing for Films Lavished in Queerdom, the night – also hosted by up-and-coming Portland film destination The Apohadion – will be, according to Warren, an empowering, enjoyable and mostly lighthearted evening of LGBTQ-themed films.
“While there are some darker elements in the films,” Warren said, “we really shied away from movies about queer people being murdered. I’ve seen enough of that onscreen, thanks.”
For Warren, the 14-film roster for this inaugural Fliq represents a wide-ranging, multifaceted view of a variety of aspects of the LGBTQ experience, and one that – in keeping with Fliq’s association with this year’s Pride Portland! celebration – was curated with an eye toward the celebratory. “We also stayed away from coming-out stories, for the most part,” said Warren, “mainly because that’s been done. A lot of filmmakers mine their own lives for stories, and that’s great. But, culturally, we should be past that ambivalence about sexuality. For Fliq, we tried to focus on more narratives and documentaries that are not shy about that, that are secure in their identity.”
For the busy founders of Maine Elements of Film, the growing prevalence of LGBTQ filmmakers and the opening up of the independent film scene meant culling through some hundred or so submissions (mainly through the festival submission site Film Freeway) to select the 14 films for this year’s event. Running right around two hours in total, the evening’s entertainment comes from all over the world, including movies made right here in Maine. Said Warren, “It’s a truly international program. We’ve got films from the Russian Federation, South Africa, Brazil – we really got a decent variety, not only geographically, but among the different ways that people identify within queer culture all over the world. Plus, we’ve got some great local stuff. It’s just exciting to see what people are working on.”
Fliq is just the latest in Maine Elements of Film’s efforts to add even more color and variety to Portland’s film scene. (In addition to Thaw and Fliq, Bolz and Warren say they’ve got a third such event in the planning stages.) It’s all part of their mission to explore, screen and celebrate filmmakers and films Portlanders might not otherwise have a chance to see. “Fliq is something I was kind of wanting to do as a queer person myself,” said Warren, “to know what kind of content exists out there in the world. Often queer films are skewed to be kind of sad or tragic. We were hoping to give queer filmmakers a platform to show a more hopeful side.”
Bolz and Warren claim that there’s something in the (R-rated equivalent) Fliq for everyone, from adult fantasy tales (“Switch,” “Only Trumpets”) to wordless explorations of desire (the six-minute “From Head to Toes”) to the picturesque adventures of a young, gay skater in Milan (“Family First”) to a Maine-made music video for the band Fine (“Water Signs”) to any number of defiantly exuberant celebrations of queer culture and life, many of which take place in societies where being queer or trans means living under constant threat from the closed-minded. (Like America, just for one example.) Said Bolz, “I’m just excited for all of them. All these films, they don’t go for the obvious queer themes that people might think. They’re about people trying to tell their own stories.”
COMING TO LOCAL SCREENS
Starts Friday: “The Gospel of Eureka.” Also presented in conjunction with Pride Portland!, this life-affirming documentary examines the seemingly contradictory forces that coexist in heartening harmony in the small Ozarks town of Eureka Springs, Arkansas. A thriving gay community and a local Christian one come together to create the annual passion play and drag show.
Sunday: “Rebel Without a Cause.” Head out to Congress Square to catch a free outdoor screening of this beloved tale of teen rebellion, starring the legendary eternal teen, James Dean.