As a documentary filmmaker, one might think I’d be reluctant, or at the very least nervous, about offering my documentary picks at a film festival. And perhaps any other year, that might be the case. But this is definitely the year of the documentary, and the programmers at Cinema Diverse have nailed it with their selections!
Having served as a programmer and juror for several film festivals this year, I have had the opportunity to see most of the newly released documentaries! And I can honestly say: audiences are in for some awesome non-fiction filmmaking at Cinema Diverse: Palm Springs LGBTQ Film Festival!
Every year we documentarians hit the film festival circuit anxious to see what will be “the documentary to beat.” This year there are so many outstanding documentaries, making it impossible to name just one.
It’s no wonder that THE UNTOLD STORY OF ARMISTEAD MAUPIN has been selected to kick off the festival. This documentary is a true crowd-pleaser and has won a collection of both audience and jury awards! Director Jennifer Kroot has done a remarkable job telling the story of one of the greatest storytellers of our time! The film delivers a revealing and engaging portrait of Armistead Maupin, best known for his work, TALES OF THE CITY. Opening night ticket-holders are in for a very special night – Armistead Maupin will be in attendance for a Q&A and book signing!
Another documentary that is winning over audiences and jurors alike at film festivals this year, and has the awards to prove it, is CHAVELA.  Through the use of stunning archival footage, compelling interviews, and captivating music performances, directors Catherine Gund and Daresha Kyi have captured the essence of this charismatic woman and extraordinary singer. This film is truly magical and mesmerizing, much like Chevela herself! You may not have ever heard of Chavela Vargas, but after seeing this film, you will never forget her! 
It’s no small task to share a piece of history and make it into a completely engrossing film, but that is what Josh Howard has accomplished with his brilliant directing of THE LAVENDER SCARE.  The documentary revisits the 1950’s when President Eisenhower declared gay men and lesbians a threat to American security, launching the longest witch-hunt in American history. As a result, thousands of workers lost their government jobs. The film offers an explicit portrayal of an important part of LGBTQ history, and delivers its impact with honesty and heart.
And speaking of history…BEFORE HOMOSEXUALS truly offers the most comprehensive history of same-sex love, more than any movie has ever dared to tackle! It’s no surprise that the award-winning filmmaker, John Scagliotti, (IN THE LIFE, BEFORE STONEWALL) would be the one brave enough to produce this delightful masterpiece! This tantalizing exhibit of love, art, history and culture is more than just a film; it’s an experience!
THE FABULOUS ALLAN CARR is, quite simply, a fabulous way to complete your weekend at the movies! Jeffrey Schwartz whose body of work includes the award winning films VITO, I AM DIVINE and TAB HUNTER CONFIDENTIAL, has done it again! His new film takes viewers inside the wild world of Hollywood producer Allan Carr.  As can be expected from this prolific filmmaker, his subject is fascinating, and the documentary is perfectly paced, informative, and entertaining!
And while you’re at the box office, I invite you to buy a ticket to see the 10-year anniversary screening of the award-winning LAUGHING MATTERS…THE MEN! Shot during Palm Springs Pride, the film interweaves hilarious standup comedy performances and insightful interviews by its distinguished cast: Bruce Vilanch, Alec Mapa, Andre Kelly, Bob Smith, Eddie Sarfaty and Scott Kennedy.
Full disclosure: I directed and produced this film and I hope to see you there!