Home #Hwoodtimes SHORTS: OUR TRUTH, OUR HISTORY: Real Stories About LGBTQ+ People


By Jim Gilles

Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 7/18/22 – Short film can be considered a concentrated piece of storytelling or a “sample” of what a filmmaker’s vision of a feature film may be. But they can also be an authentic exploration of a a topic, person, place, or theme. At Outfest 2022 is a set of intimate short documentaries or narrative reenactments of key queer moment through history in Shorts: Our Truth, Our History on Tuesday, July 17, 7:00 PM at the Director Guild of America, Theatre 2. Gifted non-fiction filmmakers allow us to spend a few moments with inspirational queer athletes, and trailblazing Muslim leaders. Members of the legendary House of LaBeija write letters ruminating on their personal stories, and actors boldly take on the persona of towering figures like James Baldwin. If you are interested in these films but unable to make it to the theatre screening on Tuesday, you will still be able to stream them online beginning July 20, at 8:00 AM with Outfest Virtual: https://watch.eventive.org/outfestla2022/play/62ab9515f236470701ea7d48

All girls tackle football team with Coach Chys Sacco

First Down (USA, 12 min), directed by Carrie Stett, tells the story of an underdog team in America’s first all-girls tackle football league, as they complete for a title amid their own personal struggles on the field and in their own lives as high-school-age young women. Head football coach – Chys Sacco (Crystal) – who is trans male and now using male pronouns – encourages these young women, some of whom felt outcast due to their weight or image issues into being their true authentic selves as members of a all-girls football team. Chys Sacco brought in Coach Kinikini as a line coach and Coach Renica as Defense Coordinator. This is an all-girls tackle football team that had never won a game. This true story takes place in Utah.

Director Carrie Stett shares the vulnerable stories of young women with compassion, including offensive line woman Giselle Gomez, who never considered joining a sport before like tackle football due to her weight, which in turn led to chronic bouts of anxiety and depression for the high school teen. She discovered friends and a home for her size within the league, where her build was perfectly suited to football. Running back Liz Rubens found her own outlet for anger and other strong emotions on the field, a foil to her own turbulent home life where family members struggle with anger management and substance abuse. Coach Crys, who we see giving himself a testosterone injection with the help of his partner, created the youth league as a place for the women to be themselves, exemplified in his decision to come out to the team in their first practice of the season. Ideally, with youth leagues as a starting example, he hopes other schools, then colleges will create their own women’s football teams.

Laura Seay’s The Baldwin Archives, featuring Peter Duval Smith

The Baldwin Archives (USA, 8 min): In this narrative reenactment of the famous 1963 interview that took place in 1963 between famed author James Baldwin and BBC journalist Peter Duval Smith, director Laura Seay has created an impressive re-telling of the powerful analysis of the situation of Black people in America in the 1960s.  It is a bold conversation. In 1963, famed author James Baldwin sits with BBC journalist Peter Duval Smith as the legendary writer expresses his perception on the plight of racism in America, and the importance of compassion for your fellow human being. In being interviewed by Duval Smith (played by Jordan Gavaris), Tory Devon Smith takes the part of James Baldwin.  It is a bold conversation Baldwin spoke expresses his perception on the plight of racism in America and the importance of compassion for one’s fellow human beings.

Holding Moses – by Riykah Beth Medow & Jen Rainin

Holding Moses (USA/Japan, 17 min): Directed by Riykah Beth Medow and Jen Rainin, this short film tells the true story of a queer, non-binary dancer who finds the rhythm to parent her profoundly disabled son. Riykah Beth Medow is also the producer of the amazing documentary feature film Jeannette (2022), which screens at Outfest on Wednesday, July 20. Jen Rainin and Rivkan Beth Medow are known for their documentary Ahead of the Curve (2020), about Franco Stevens, the woman who founded the most successful lesbian magazine in the 1990s.Rivkah Beth Medow is a producer and director, known for Let Them Eat Dirt (2019), Being George Clooney (2016), and Sons of a Gun (2009). Jen Rainin founded Frankly Speaking Films with Rivkah Beth Medow in 2020 to produce media that centers strong LGBTQ+ women and non-binary people to increase visibility and spark change.

Andy Vallentine’s The Letter Men

The Letter Men (USA, 9 min): Director Andy Vallentine has put together a moving short film based on the real love letters written by Gilbert Bradley to his sweetheart, Gordon Bowsher during WWII. Exchanged between 1938 and 1941, the letters were uncovered in 2017 and represent the largest known collection LGBTQ love letters from that time period. Using text from the actual letters, The Letter Men follows the two men as they fight to keep their love alive in the face of war and loss. Garrett Clayton and Matthew Postlethwaite portrays Gilbert Bradley and Gordon Bowsher in the dramatic reenactment of their story. Director Any Vallentine is mostly known as director music videos and in currently in post-production with The Mattachine Family about a gay couple who adopt a foster child. 

Fredgy Noël’s The House of LaBeija

The House of LaBeija (USA, 10 min):  Directed by Fredgy Noël, this short poetic documentary pays homage to the historical House of LaBeija through a series of letters from its members. The film features members of the first prominent ballroom family, the House of LaBeija. established in 1971 by Krystal LeBeija. features original music composition from Manhattanite, Khalif Diouf, formerly known as Le1F. In 2022 the House of LaBeija’s members continue the tradition of being a safe space for transgender women, a safe space for queer people, and a safe space for those who need one. They are family and New York City is their home. Featured in the film are Samil LaBeija, Krystal LaBeija, Jasmine Rice LaBeija, Bougie LaBeija, Jeffrey La Beija, Diovanna LaBeija, and Vivian LaBeija. Fredgy Noël is a director and producer, known for Milking It (2015) and Cotton Candy (2020).

Portal (USA, 12 min):  Directed by Rodney Evans, this short non-fiction film about the lack of touch for single people during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic and how two queer, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) friends sustain each other through communication and connection. Starring Rodney Evans and Homay King, this is an amazing feat for Rodney Evans, whose sight impairment is huge challenge to his ability to direct films now. Evans is well known for his Brother to Brother (2004), which was the winner of the Sundance Film Festival-Special Jury Prize-Dramatic Competition. His Vision Portraits (2019) was an in-depth exploration of the creative paths of blind and visually impaired artists.

Two Spirit (Colombia, 15 min, in Wayuunaiki/Spanish): Directed by Mónica Taboada-Tapia. this short film offers us a window into the life of Georgina Epiayu, a trans woman in a small indigenous community in Colombia, as she attempts to reach an understanding with her neighbors. The Wayuu people are an Amerindian ethnic group who live on the mostly desert Guajira Peninsula in the northwestern part of Columbia near Venezuela. The Wayuu were never subjugated by the Spanish and managed to maintain many of their traditional ways  Director Taboada-Tapia has made several small films including Fidel (2012), about a lost dog in the streets of Bogota and part of a TV series El Placer de Escaparse del Mundo (2021).

Legacy (USA, 1 min.): Directed by Giovannie Espiritu), this very short film tells the story of generations through poetry and pictures. Espiritu is a bisexual, once-undocumented immigrant Filipina mother known for her film Ally 3000 which won over 12 awards at film festivals including Outfest 2019 – mainly in scriptwriting and social justice. She is also an actor and her primetime credits include a recurring role on ER (NBC), Bones (FOX), Gilmore Girls (ABC), and Trauma (NBC). She can be seen as the lead in the Amazon series, Dyke Central, which was featured in After Ellen, BuzzFeed, Bust Magazine and Curve Magazine as a top LGBTQ series to watch.

Legacy by Giovannie Espiritu
Nicole Teeny’s Unity Mosque

Unity Mosque (USA/Canada, 6 min): In this short film, director Nicole Teeny introduces us to one of the world’s first queer-affirming mosques plays a life-saving role in the lives of its members. The founders and attendees of the titular place of worship in Toronto share their stories and opinions about one of the world’s first queer-affirming and gender-equal mosques. It features Shawn A., Troy Jackson, and El Farouk Khaki. Nicole Terry has directed parts of a TV series Kat on a Date (2014) and served as editor on several documentary TV series.