Monday, October 10, 2011

Sacred Places (Halfway Through) - Stephen Cone for "The Wise Kids"

A bit late to the blog, but, you know, as they say...

I started the Tour without a laptop and spent about half an hour in Atlanta on my first day off changing that. So, here I am, typing this from the Marriott in Chattanooga (on my very first Apple product), where we're screening tonight at the Loose Cannon Gallery. The Chattanooga Film Society has impressed me in a big way with how they've prepped for and promoted the event over the past month or two (I did a radio interview for them 2 weeks prior to the Tour, and another this morning). I'm excited for the screening tonight.

There are a thousand ways I could go with this blog, but I'll just touch on two things:

Up to the tour we'd screened mostly at really wonderful and well-known gay & lesbian film festivals, winning several awards and playing to packed houses. It's been really great, as THE WISE KIDS deals with the private pain and joy that comes with grappling with and accepting one's own sexuality. What you get at themed festivals like those, though, is a very specific (and necessary) type of audience. And for a film that deals not only with sexuality but with faithand doubt and family and identity and growing up, there are more audiences to reach; audiences of a different sort. So, what I've looked forward to and enjoyed very much is playing to those new audiences on this Southern Circuit Tour, a tour that is bringing all sorts of people - southerners, northerners, gay, straight, young, old, Christian, non-Christian, etc. - to the film. From Unitarians to Catholics-turned-Baptists to young straight men and young gay women, I've had the opportunity to engage with folks who are grappling or have grappled with the same issues Brea, Laura, Tim, Austin and Elizabeth are grappling with in the film. These encounters have been so special to me, including a profoundly meaningful late-night discussion with two community college students in Gadsden, AL. How would they have seen this film otherwise, were it not for South Arts?

Secondly, and lastly (for now), I just want to state how inspiring it's been to venture to the cultural institutions hosting these screenings. The Jule Collins Smith Museum of Art in Auburn, the Acadiana Center for the Arts in Lafayette, LA, Wallace Hall in Gadsden, AL, the Clarkston Community Center in Clarkston, GA and three more I'll encounter this week. All of these places provide opportunities for people in the south to encounter the sacred, profound, silly, playful, intellectual, emotional and liberating qualities of art and it's expression. As I've walked onto these "sacred grounds" I've been moved by the architecture, the atmosphere, the cultural possibilities, and by the quiet cultural heroes doing their part to make the world a better, richer place. Fitting that I'm taking with me into these buildings a movie about finding holiness.