July 21, 2018
The longest-running LGBTQ Film Festival in the Mountain West, the 15th annual Damn These Heels is a safe, supportive environment that celebrates our community’s diversity by sharing LGBTQ history, culture, ideas, struggles, and triumphs through film.
Past Damn These Heels films are award-winners, audience favorites and films from around the world including Todrick Hall: Behind the Curtain, The Pearl, Strike a Pose, Kiki, Out Run, The Slippers, Boulevard, Beginners, Summer of Sangaile, Tangerine, and more.
Directed by Tracy Choi
97 min | 2017 | Macau/Hong Kong/Taiwan | Not Rated
Presented in Cantonese and Mandarin with English subtitles
Cast: Gigi Leung, Fish Liew, Jennifer Yu
In a small town somewhere in Taiwan lives Sei, a warm and beautiful woman in her late-thirties. Sei moved from Macau to Taiwan 15 years ago with her husband. One day at her home, Sei discovers a missing person ad in the papers with her name. Her best friend in Macau, Ling, had just passed away and old friends there are hoping Sei could attend the funeral. Sei recalls her younger days with Ling in the 1990s. It was Ling who got Sei her first job at a massage parlor and invited Sei to live at her home. Sei and Ling’s friendship deepened when Ling discovered she was pregnant. Sei promised she would raise the baby with Ling like a real family. The arrival of Ling’s baby boy, Lok Lok, gave new meaning to the girls’ lives. But as the date of Macau’s handover neared, Ling was spending less time at home after falling in love with a restaurant owner. On the eve of Macau’s handover, the two girls had a big fight before they parted ways. Today, Macau has transformed from a quiet small town into a neon metropolis. Sei re-united with Lok Lok, who is now a handsome 18-year-old. Sei often wondered what happened to Ling after she left Macau. Little does she expect what Lok Lok is about to reveal: Ling has kept a promise to Sei she never knew…
Nominated: Best Supporting Actress Nomination Fish Liew & Best New Performer Nomination Jennifer Yu–36th Hong Kong Film Award
Directed by Rebekah Fortune
97 min | 2017 | UK | Not Rated
Cast: Patricia Potter, Scot Williams, Harry Gilby, Karen Bryson
Young soccer star Charlie has the world at his feet. With a top club desperate to sign him, his future is seemingly mapped out. But the teenager sees only a nightmare. Trapped in the body of a boy, Charlie is torn between wanting to live up to her father’s expectations and shedding this ill-fitting skin. Charlie’s next move will tear the family apart and threaten everything they hold dear.
Winner: Best Feature Film for Youth–2017 Zlin Film Festival; Official Selection: 2017 Edinburgh International Film Festival, Frameline41
Directed by T Cooper
93 min | 2018 | USA | Not Rated
Man Made takes us into the heart of transgender male (FTM) culture, revealing unexpected truths about gender, masculinity, humanity, and love. Four trans men (who like the film’s director were born and raised female), take a variety of life paths toward stepping on stage at Trans FitCon, the only all-transgender bodybuilding competition in the world (held in Atlanta, GA). Man Made is a character-driven, intimate, and riveting verité-style competition film, but also a unique social justice narrative. It speaks to the ways in which we all choose to define and reshape ourselves, both figuratively and literally.
The strength on display in Man Made transcends the physical: Rese is a young father struggling with periods of homelessness; Dominic seeks out his family of origin, confronting an alternate history for himself; Kennie admits to himself and his loved ones who he is for the first time in his life; and Mason, a loving husband who struggles with mental illness, works daily to be the man he’s always wanted to be—on both the inside and out. We follow these subjects’ emotional and physical journeys as they navigate lives as the men they are, despite very real risks inherent in the current social and political climate. For the men of Man Made, it’s not about winning—it’s about being seen.
Official Selection: 2018 Inside Out Toronto LGBT Film Festival, 2018 Outfest Los Angeles, 2018 Frameline Film Festival
Directed by Dominique Choisy
108 min | 2017 | France | Not Rated
Cast: Johnny Rasse, Mickaël Pelissier, Nathalie Richard, Juliette Damiens, Marie Vernalde, Bertrand Belin, Julien Graux, Sophie Matel, Tancredi Volpert, Yannick Bequelin
Invited to present his first feature film My life with James Dean in Normandy, the young director Géraud Champreux has no idea this film tour is about to change his life. From wild stampedes to woeful screenings, from trawler trips to drunken evenings, Géraud ends up finding inspiration in this unlikely town at the end of the earth.
An 89-minute short film program featuring serious, heartfelt, and touching LGBTQ+ films from around the globe.
Top 10 Places to Visit in São Paulo by Akira Kamiki | Beauty by Christina Willings | A Kitchen Can Take You Back by KUER’s RadioWest | Sunset by Katie Ennis, Gary Jaffe | Spark by Aharonit Elior| Crook – “Lavender” by Luka Fisher| Something About Alex by Reinout Hellenthal
Directed by Alessandro Genovesi
90 min | 2018 | Italy | Not Rated
Presented in Italian with English subtitles
Cast: Diego Abatantuono, Monica Guerritore, Salvatore Esposito, Cristiano Caccamo, Dino Abbrescia, Diana Del Bufalo, Beatrice Arnera, Rosaria D’Urso, Antonio Catania, Enzo Miccio
Antonio has finally found the love of his life, Paolo, with whom he lives happily in Berlin. Even if still not sure about their families’ reactions, they decide to get married in Italy, in the small village from where Antonio’s parents live. His mother, Anna, immediately accepts the guys’ intentions, as long as all traditions are respected: the future mother-in-law will have to attend the wedding, a famous wedding planner will be in charge of the organization and the marriage will be celebrated by her husband, Roberto, the mayor of the town, who has based all his politics on hospitality and integration. Joined by their bizarre friends Benedetta and Donato, the two fiancées start to prepare the ceremony, but will Paolo’s conservative mother, Vincenza, attend the wedding? And, above all, will Roberto support his son’s choice?
Directed by Ayse Toprak
85 min | 2017 | Turkey/Germany | Not Rated
Presented in Arabic with English subtitles
Mr. Gay Syria follows two gay Syrian refugees who are trying to rebuild their lives. Husein is a barber in Istanbul living a double life between his conservative family and his gay identity. Mahmoud is the founder of Syria’s LGBTI movement and is a refugee in Berlin. What brings them together is a dream: to participate in an international beauty contest as an escape from their trapped lives and an answer to their invisibility. Will the dream come true or will the refugee crisis and the harsh consequences of being gay in the Muslim world shatter it to pieces?
Winner: Best Documentary–2017 Chicago International Film Festival; Official Selection: 2017 Sheffield Doc/Fest
Directed by Dean Hamer & Joe Wilson
72 min | 2018 | USA/Tonga | Not Rated
Presented in English and Tongan with English subtitles
Leitis in Waiting is the story of Joey Mataele and the Tonga leitis, an intrepid group of native transgender women fighting a rising tide of religious fundamentalism and intolerance in their South Pacific Kingdom. The film follows Joey, a devout Catholic of noble descent, as she organizes an exuberant beauty pageant presided over by a princess, provides shelter and training for a young contestant rejected by her family, and spars with American-financed evangelicals threatening to resurrect colonial-era laws that would criminalize the leitis’ lives. With unexpected humor and extraordinary access to the Kingdom’s royals and religious leaders, Joey’s emotional journey reveals what it means to be different in a society ruled by tradition, and what it takes to be accepted without forsaking who you are.
Official Selection: 2017 Frameline Film Festival, 2018 Festival International Du Film Documentaire Oceanien, 2017 Big Sky Documentary Film Festival
Mature Audiences Only
New this year, filmmakers of all experience levels are invited to participate in the 48 Hour Film OUT project. On July 13-15, participating local LGBTQ film teams got together for a wild and sleepless weekend and wrote, edited, and shot these LGBTQ movies in just 48 hours. Join us for a world premiere of these films!
Directed by Gabriel Silverman and Fiona Dawson
93 min | 2018 | USA | Not Rated
Cast: Senior Airman Logan Ireland, Corporal Laila Villanueva, Captain Jennifer Peace & First Lieutenant El Cook
Panel discussion with Olivia Jaramillo, transgender, active duty Air Force; Josie Jesse, 8 years Air Force then transitioned, and moderated by Sue Robbins of the Utah Pride Center, 20 years US Army then transitioned.
The 2018 SXSW Audience Award-winning feature film debut by Gabriel Silverman & Fiona Dawson, TransMilitary follows the Emmy-nominated short film Transgender, at War and in Love. Around 15,500 transgender people serve in the U.S. military (notably the largest transgender employer in the U.S.), where they must conceal their gender identity because military policies ban their service. TransMilitary chronicles the lives of four individuals (Senior Airman Logan Ireland, Corporal Laila Villanueva, Captain Jennifer Peace & First Lieutenant El Cook) defending their country’s freedom while fighting for their own. They put their careers and their families’ livelihoods on the line by coming out as transgender to top brass officials in the Pentagon in hopes of attaining the equal right to serve. The ban was lifted in 2016, but with President Trump now trying to reinstate it, their futures hang in the balance again.
Winner: Documentary Competition Audience Award–2018 SXSW; Official Selection: 2018 Frameline Film Festival
Directed by Leilah Weinraub
72 min | 2018 | USA | Not Rated (Mature Audiences Only)
Shakedown is the story of Los Angeles’ black lesbian strip club scene and its genesis. Owned and operated by women, underground and illegal in nature, the club Shakedown emerged from a post-RIOTS, post-OJ, post-integration but still very racially divided Los Angeles.
Showing the protagonists backstage and in interviews, this intimate chronicle reveals that Shakedown was more than just a strip club; as one of the few spaces for lesbian subculture, the club brought together and galvanized a community of freaks and queers of color, and for that it suffered police reprisals. The film’s director is herself a member of this community; using exclusive archive material, posters and flyers, her film takes a personal look at female desire that is rarely presented on the big screen.
Official Selection: 2018 Berlinale Film Festival
Directed by Jeremiah Zagar
94 min | 2018 | USA | Not Rated
Cast: Raúl Castillo, Josiah Gabriel, Isaiah Kristian, Evan Rosado, Sheila Vand
Us three, us brothers, us kings. Manny, Joel, and Jonah tear their way through childhood and push against the volatile love of their parents. As Manny and Joel grow into versions of their father and Ma dreams of escape, Jonah, the youngest, embraces an imagined world all his own. Based on the novel by Justin Torres.
Winner: Next Innovator Award–2018 Sundance Film Festival, Future/Now Award–2018 Montclair Film Festival
Directed by Bruce La Bruce
91 min | 2017 | USA | Not Rated (Mature Audience Only)
Cast: Susanne Sachße, Viva Ruiz, Kembra Pfahler
When an injured male leftist on the run discovers the remote stronghold of the Female Liberation Army — a radical feminist terrorist group whose mission is to usher in a female world order — one of the members takes pity on him and hides him in the basement. However, the man in the basement is just one of many secrets threatening to disrupt the FLA’s mission from within. Balancing sharp social commentary and salacious popcorn entertainment, iconic filmmaker Bruce LaBruce has created an experience that’s a blast to watch and just as much fun to dissect afterward.
Nominated: Teddy Award for Best Feature Film–2017 Berlin International Film Festival