Northeast Valley News

Special guests add fun, bring personal touch to 2015 Desperado


"Crazy Bitches" actors: Mary Jane Wells, Nayo Wallace, and answer questions and add humor to the Desperado Film Festival.

Photo by Sharlene Celeskey

Photo by Sharlene Celeskey

"Crazy Bitches" actors: Mary Jane Wells, Nayo Wallace, and answer questions and add humor to the Desperado Film Festival.

Sharlene Celeskey, Contemporary Culture Editor

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“Desperado LGBT” film festival is an entertaining and educational journey through LGBT life, held from Jan. 23 to 25 at Paradise Valley Community College. The sixth annual festival offers movies with a variety of themes and genres that rely heavily on independent films.

High points of the festival include the quality films not seen in local theaters, short films, exposure to new subjects and the question and answer sessions. One of the biggest disappointments of the event was the lack of crowd diversity. Men attended gay themed films, while women went to lesbian themed films and the straight crowd stays away

“Boy Meets Girl,” a beautifully filmed and cleverly written movie about sexual identity, won the audience award. When charismatic newcomer Michelle Hendley hits the screen you can’t stop watching her. She immediately takes you into her world of a transgendered woman in a small town in Kentucky. The story explores several themes as Henley’s character Ricky becomes romantically involved with the recently engaged Francesca (played by Alexandra Turshen). Both women are attracted to men but now question their beliefs about sexuality. The film keeps you interested, as the story is pleasantly unpredictable. Eric Schaeffer, director and screenwriter, crafts a thoughtfully written film that deserves a wider audience.

Three films along with the opening documentary, “Back on Board: Greg Louganis,” featured a Q & A session after the film. These sessions enhance the screenings and give more insight into the making of the films.

“The Foxy Merkins,” a hilarious quirky comedy, features the very funny Lisa Haas. She co-wrote the screenplay and her facial expressions alone elicit laugher. The film is a female buddy film with Haas playing a homeless lesbian prostitute that gets into the most hysterically, zany situations. She admits that she interviewed sex workers prior to the filming.

Half a dozen of the cast and crew of comedic horror film, “Crazy Bitches,” drive from California to attend Desperado. The film, sometimes funny, sometimes scary, features 30-something sorority sisters going to a ranch to reconnect and to relax. Director Jane Clark, producer Tara Carbajah, actor and producer John McLaughlin with three female actors ham it up onstage during their Q and A session, which adds great fun to the festival. Big white buttons with “Crazy Bitches” printed in large letters are passed out before the film.

“The Ten Year Plan,” closed the festival on Sunday night and both director and writer J.C. Calcino and producer Matthew Solari talk about their film after the screening. The film, a gay traditional romantic comedy, explores both love and friendship with appealing, handsome actors. The film is based on a true story of two of his friends explains Calcino. He explains he filmed it in 12 days, with a budget of $100,000, while using different friends’ houses for the sets. (“Crazy Bitches” was also filmed in the same amount of time with a similar budget.)

If you purchased the all-festival pass, you receieved admission to all three days of films and all events. It is the best way to learn and experience what the festival is about: to educate the public in an entertaining way about LGBT experiences.

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Special guests add fun, bring personal touch to 2015 Desperado