Trans filmmaker Rhys Ernst hits Sundance with Adam
Transgender filmmaker Rhys Ernst, whose TV miniseries documentary This Is Me led to directing an episode of Transparent, has stepped into features, helming his first full-length, Adam.
Taking its initial bow at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival in January, and based on the novel by queer cartoonist and author Ariel Schrag, Adam is the story of a teenage boy who spends his last summer of high school with his older sister in New York City among her lesbian and trans activist circle of friends. What he encounters there challenges his ideas, identity and integrity.
The film stars Nicholas Alexander (Good Girls), Margaret Qualley (The Leftovers) and legendary Pose house mother MJ Rodriguez, which is also great news. More trans filmmakers at Sundance, please, and more Pose ladies in everything, please. And by everything we mean Elektra Abundance working with Scorsese and Soderbergh, thank you. See you at Sundance.
Viola Davis gloves up for The Fighting Shirley Chisholm
Sometimes non-queer people earn the right to call themselves more than allies; they get to be honorary members of the LGBTQ community. If anyone deserves that it’s the late Shirley Chisholm. She was the first African-American woman elected to Congress in the House of Representatives in 1968. And she was “intersectional” before the internet decided on a concise word for caring about the rights and dignity of all people. She stood up for poor and working class people, she was for LGBTQ rights when it was politically poisonous to take that stand, and she generally gave a damn when others didn’t.
Now Academy Award winner Viola Davis will portray her for Amazon Studios feature, The Fighting Shirley Chisholm, written by Adam Countee (Silicon Valley) and directed by Maggie Betts (Novitiate). Davis is a perfect choice. She’s the one you call when you want it knocked out of the park, and she’ll return Chisholm to the public consciousness, letting a new generation know why the words “Unbought and Unbossed” are engraved on her headstone. Look for this one sometime in 2019.
Jim Parsons delivers a Spoiler Alert
Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies isn’t really a happy story, but it’s a true one, and it’s about queer love in the face of the unthinkable. It began life as a memoir from writer Michael Ausiello, about the 11-month period between diagnosis and death from cancer of his partner, photographer Kit Cowan. And now it’s going to be a film starring Big Bang Theory’s Jim Parsons.
Michael Showalter (The Big Sick) will direct and produce the screenplay by David Marshall Grant (A Million Little Things) and Dan Savage. But it’s not all going to be about illness. The story covers the expanse of Cowan and Ausiello’s 14-year-long relationship and the million little things that go into building a life together that’s strong enough to deal with the worst possible doctor’s news. We’ll be there with a box of tissue.
Spending a Late Nightwith Emma Thompson and Mindy Kaling
Lesbian filmmaker Nisha Ganatra (Chutney Popcorn, Transparent) has a new project premiering at The Sundance Film Festival. It’s called Late Night, and stars (also written by) Mindy Kaling. The story revolves around a talk show host (Emma Thompson), on the verge of having her series cancelled. A new writer (Kaling), the lone person of color as well as the sole woman, comes on staff as a “diversity hire” and shakes up the show’s production.
Co-starring John Lithgow, Hugh Dancy, Denis O’Hare and Amy Ryan, it’s a personal project for Kaling, whose career has been spent maneuvering around similar white, male obstacles. She even wrote the film specifically with Thompson in mind because she’s a fan and wanted to work with her – in other words it’s the opposite of Hollywood movie-making by committee and exactly the sort of thing that earns its way into Sundance.
Romeo San Vicente is at his best after dark.
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