So in past Junes I’ve written about some amazing LGBT authors and biographies of some of my favorite LGB actors, for this year’s post I wanted to blog about some films that look at LGBT families from a variety of backgrounds. All are available for streaming from Hoopla for Hoboken Public Library resident card holders and other BCCLS members.
Romeo Romeo, a short documentary from 2012, looks at the lives of Jessica Casano-Antonellis and Lexy Casano-Antonellis as they struggle to conceive. The Romeo in the title refers to the son they are desperately hoping for. Romeo Romeo is sometimes funny and other times heartbreaking. Many of their difficulties will be relatable to any couple who has struggled with issues of fertility and both the emotional and financial costs that occur. Romeo Romeo gave me a deeper understanding of what couples or individuals who are going through treatments like IVF go through both procedurally as well as personally. Every time the couple took a pregnancy test I found myself hoping along with them that it would come back positive. It was heartwarming to see their friends and family showing their support. Lexy has a pretty singing voice and works part time as a performer so her lovely vocals are featured throughout Romeo Romeo. You can see an interview with the director Lisa Gottlieb here.
In Chutney Popcorn, Reena, played by Nisha Ganatra, leads a comfortable life working in a salon creating intricate henna designs, riding her motorcycle, and spending time with her spunky girlfriend. Then when her recently married sister learns she is infertile, Reena decides to act as surrogate, throwing her life in to chaos as first her sister decides she might not want the baby after all and then her girlfriend breaks up with her. Nisha Ganatra also directed, co-wrote, and produced the film. More recently Ganatra directed several episodes of the ground breaking series Transparent about a family’s evolution as they learn one of their members is transgender. Playing Reena’s girlfriend Lisa is Jill Hennessy, who you might remember as Jordan Cavanaugh, in one of my favorite procedurals from the early 2000s Crossing Jordan. Notable Indian actress, Madhur Jaffrey, gives perhaps the best performance of the movie as Reena’s mother, who slowly learns to embrace her daughter’s orientation. I remember watching this film in college back when it came out in 1999. Re-watching Chutney Popcorn recently, it was fun to flash back to 90’s fashion. It was jolting, however, to realize that just 15 years ago that Reena’s announcing to her mom that she wouldn’t be getting married because she was gay seemed like something that at the time might always be true and made me realize how far LGBT Rights have come. Check this out for a sweet story that shows the power of love and family. Chutney Popcorn is also available to borrow on DVD for BCCLS members.
Any Day Now
As mentioned in last year’s Pride Month post, Alan Cumming is one of my favorite actors so I was interested to check out Any Day Now, a film where he portrays part of a gay couple who take in a child with Down syndrome after the teen’s mom goes to jail. Despite the love and support they provide, they face legal challenges due to prejudice against their relationship. Although set in the late seventies/early eighties as a period piece, the original script for Any Day Now had actually been written over 30 years before the movie was made by Emmy winning Screenwriter George Arthur Bloom, who was inspired by a real story. Travis Fine, who also directed Any Day Now did some rewriting, but the “heart and soul of [his] screenplay remain as the anchor to the movie,” according to Bloom (you can see an interview with him here). The movie has a powerful message about justice and equality, but the strong performances of the actors help it rise above simply didacticism. Alan Cumming gives an amazing performance as Rudy Donatello, a singer and sometimes drag performer, who shows heart and courage when facing a biased world. Garret Dillahunt performance as his partner Paul, is much quieter, but still conveys great emotion. Any Day Now is also available on DVD from the Hoboken Public Library and other BCCLS libraries.
-Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference