juliette binoche

FilmWatch Weekly: Queer Docs, fat Buddhas, and more

The week's notable films also include the latest from French star Juliette Binoche

As American society has taken steps—some halting, some confident—toward recognition and acceptance of a wider variety of gender and sexual identities, compelling true-life tales reflecting a previously stifled panorama of experiences have emerged. Each year, the Portland Queer Documentary Film Festival presents a thoughtfully curated selection of those stories, and its 2018 iteration, which runs from Thursday, May 17, through Sunday, May 20, at the Hollywood Theatre, is no exception.

The opening night selection looks to the past while providing hope in the face of a fraught future. “50 Years of Fabulous” examines the oldest gay and lesbian charity group in the country, The Imperial Council of San Francisco, which was founded in 1965 by José Julio Sarria, the first openly gay candidate for public office in American history. The film functions as a tribute to Sarria, who died in 2013, as well as a testimony to the group’s accomplishments and a recognition of the challenges it faces to remain relevant today.

“Fifty Years of Fabulous” leads off the Portland QDoc Film Festival.

Other highlights include “Every Act of Life,” an affecting and admiring portrait of four-time Tony Award winner Terrence McNally (“Love! Valour! Compassion!,” “Kiss of the Spider-Woman,” “Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune,” and so many others). Testimonials pour in from titans such as F. Murray Abraham, Angela Lansbury, and Rita Moreno. Audra McDonald, who was in the original cast of McNally’s “Master Class” and, coincidentally, will be appearing with the Oregon Symphony at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall on Tuesday, May 22nd, has some very nice things to say. And Nathan Lane, naturally, is irrepressible.

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FILM REVIEW: Juliette Binoche beautifully waits in “L’Attesa”

The iconic French star plays a bereaved mother who hosts a visit from her dead son's girlfriend in this melancholy drama.

True to its title, “The Wait” (“L’attesa”) is about people waiting for others to arrive or return, and it begins with an image of one of history’s most eagerly anticipated figures: Jesus Christ, in the form of a large crucifix displayed in a Sicilian church where a funeral is being held. Easter is just days away, so death and resurrection are already on the minds of the mourners in this very Catholic country.

Slowly, dreamily, first-time director Piero Messina moves the camera to reveal not who’s in the casket but who’s standing off to the side, dazed, clearly the mourner who has suffered the greatest loss. She is Anna (Juliette Binoche), a Frenchwoman who married (and eventually divorced) a Sicilian man and has an adult son named Giuseppe. Not long after the funeral, the mirrors still covered in black cloth and Anna still near-catatonic with grief, she receives a guest: Jeanne (Lou de Laâge), Giuseppe’s girlfriend, arriving for a pre-arranged visit. But where, Jeanne wants to know, is Giuseppe?

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